NEW JERSEY MOVES INTO NEW ERA OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
WITH EARTH WEEK CELEBRATIONS IN COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE STATE
(18/P028) TRENTON – A wide range of Earth Week cleanups, fairs, school activities and other celebrations are planned as New Jersey moves into a new era of environmental leadership.
“Earth Week is the perfect time to appreciate our environment and renew our focus on what we can do throughout the year to make it cleaner and healthier,” said Department of Environmental Protection Acting Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe. “The opportunities to get involved are virtually endless – cleaning up litter at a local park, being sure to recycle at home and at work, and educating children on the importance of protecting the environment, to name a few.”
Many celebrations are scheduled for the official kick-off of Earth Week this Sunday, April 22, though many events also will be held this Saturday, April 21. The bulk of events will continue on the following weekend, while some communities will host ecology-themed events well into May.
Some of the events coming up include a river cleanup and community picnic in Maplewood, Essex County; beach cleanups at Liberty State Park in Jersey City; an Earth Day Meditation at High Point State Park in Sussex County; and a spring vegetable planting in Somerville, Somerset County.
Also planned are a litter cleanup in Secaucus, Hudson County; a cleanup of the Wildlife Drive and trails at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Atlantic County; a festival and bike ride in Camden County’s Cherry Hill focusing on reducing the use of plastic; and a cleanup of streets and roads in Atlantic County’s Hamilton Township.
For a listing of events reported to the DEP and ideas on how to get involved, visit: www.earthdaynj.org (Take note that many additional events may not be on this list, so check with your municipality or local news outlet).
Earth Day also marks the DEP’s birthday, April 22, 1970. At that time, New Jersey became the third state to organize its various environmental and conservation agencies under one umbrella. Over the years, New Jersey established one of the nation’s strongest records on environmental protection.
Among the Garden State’s long list of accomplishments:
- New Jersey was the first state to require recycling, enacting the Mandatory Source Separation and Recycling Act in 1987.
- New Jersey enacted some of the nation’s first freshwater and coastal wetlands protections, with passage of the Wetlands Act in 1970.
- In 1961, voters established the first statewide land conservation program, known as the Green Acres Program, that has directly preserved some 657,000 acres of open space, parks and recreation facilities.
- Although the most densely populated state, New Jersey has preserved more than 1.5 million acres of open space and farmlands.
- Down to just one nesting pair of bald eagles in the early 1980s, the state now has more than 150 pairs, with other birds of prey making similarly remarkable recoveries from past use of the pesticide DDT and habitat loss.
- A 1976 law adopted by New Jersey that holds polluters responsible for contamination became the model for the nation’s Superfund contaminated-site cleanup program.
- Under a longstanding partnership with local governments that was established in 1974, New Jersey’s beaches have one of the best records in the nation for water quality.
- New Jersey has some of the most stringent air emissions standards in the nation for industries and power plants, and has worked to significantly reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from the power sector.
“With our legacy to guide us, the DEP pledges to advance New Jersey as a national leader on the environment through policies that address climate change, tackle the needs of our urban communities, spur renewable energy and grow our economy,” Acting Commissioner McCabe said. “We urge residents to become inspired by going to Earth Week events, and then to do whatever they can to make a difference at home, at work and in their communities.”
Here are some tips for helping the environment every day:
- Reduce litter by buying products that use less packaging, bringing your own canvas bags when grocery shopping, and picking up litter along your favorite walks or in parks you visit.
- Save energy by replacing incandescent light bulbs with efficient compact fluorescent or LED lighting; using energy efficient appliances, turning off and unplugging electronics when not in use, turning off lights when leaving a room and turning down the thermostat two degrees in winter and up two degrees in the summer.
- Save water in the home by taking shorter showers using a water-saving shower head, fixing leaky plumbing fixtures, and running the dishwasher and clothes washer only when full.
- Save water outdoors by watering lawns only in the early morning or late at night, using mulch around trees and gardens to retain soil moisture, and planting drought-tolerant shrubs and flowers for landscaping.
- Reduce air pollution by carpooling, riding a bike, using public transportation or driving an electric or hybrid vehicle, and by keeping tires properly inflated and engine tuned to improve gas mileage.
- Reduce chemicals in the home by using natural cleaning products, such as substituting white vinegar for bleach when washing clothes, making glass cleaner using a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice mixed with a quart of water, and making furniture polish by mixing a teaspoon of lemon juice with a pint of mineral or vegetable oil.
- Reduce or eliminate pesticides by using boric acid or other natural alternatives to control insects, and by using compost instead of chemical fertilizers for landscaping and gardens.
- Reduce waste at home by not using single-use plastics such as plastic bags and straws, and by maximizing the amount of waste that can be recycled by reviewing the list of items your community recycles.
- Reduce waste at work by reading documents online instead of printing them, using only 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper, setting printers to print two-sided documents, and asking your office cafeteria to choose reusable utensils and trays.
For more tips, information on cost and environmental benefits of green practices, and other Earth Day information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, visit: www.epa.gov/earthday
Media Note: The DEP’s press office this week will be issuing a separate media advisory providing information on Earth Week events to be attended by Acting Commissioner McCabe and other DEP officials.