The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) has announced six communities including Merrillville will be piloting updates to the agency’s Clean Community Challenge. The Clean Community Challenge is a voluntary program that recognizes and assists Indiana cities or towns that take proactive and positive environmental actions to promote community sustainability. This year, IDEM is piloting expanded project offerings including community gardens, curbside recycling, composting, and more. The other 2021 pilot communities are Beech Grove, Brown County, Fishers, Richmond, and Zionsville. These communities are testing new levels of membership, expanded project choices, and reduced paperwork requirements. In partnership with the IU Office of Sustainability, some pilot communities will receive a Fellow at no cost to assist with implementation of sustainable best practices.
IDEM says it is working closely with an advisory committee comprised of representatives from Accelerate Indiana Municipalities, the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, the IU Environmental Resiliency Institute, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, local municipalities, and Earth Charter Indiana to implement the improvements to the program. At the end of the pilot, the Clean Community Challenge will be open to all Indiana municipalities, including cities, towns, and county levels of government. IDEM expects to open membership to all Hoosier communities in 2022. Communities will progress through the levels of membership from Bronze, Silver, and Gold at their own pace. For more information about the program, visit https://www.in.gov/idem/partnerships/clean-communities/ .