What It Means To Be an Environmentalist (or Everything You Wanted to Know About Sustainability But Were Afraid to Ask)
The Ewing Green Team announces the latest entry in its Environmental Insights Series, environmental presentations designed to engage area residents in a public conversation about critical environmental issues and to spark new ideas concerning sustainability. Join us on Wednesday, February 24th at 6:30 pm for our program, What it means to be an Environmentalist (or Everything You Wanted to Know about Sustainability but Were Afraid to Ask) with a presentation and discussion led by Joseph-Mark Mirabella, Ewing Green Team and Ewing Environmental Commission member, former Environmental Science teacher and NJDEP enforcement supervisor.
Have you ever wondered what environmental protection and sustainability really means? Is there a difference between the two? Come explore and discuss these fascinating issues starting with a history of environmental activism going back to Teddy Roosevelt, the first Earth Day, to the present, and where we are going tomorrow.
So what does it mean to be an environmentalist? The Merriam Webster online dictionary defines an environmentalist as a person who works to protect the natural world from pollution and other threats. If you recycle religiously, are you an environmentalist? If you compost regularly, are you an environmentalist? What if you have installed solar panels on your home but put your grass clippings out at the curb, are you an environmentalist? Do you consider yourself to be an environmentalist? Come tell us what you think it means and what is important to you. We want to know.
About Mr. Mirabella
Joseph-Mark Mirabella is currently the Central Regional Supervisor for the NJDEP Hazardous Waste Enforcement program. He is a former Environmental Science Teacher and has taught and lectured on environmental issues at NJ Colleges and Universities for the last 35 years. Currently, he is a Commissioner on the Ewing Township Redevelopment Agency and is a member of Ewing’s Environmental Commission & Sustainable Green Team.
Date: Wednesday, February 24
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: Ewing Senior and Community Center, 999 Lower Ferry Road, Ewing
Cost: Free and Open to the Public
The tenth annual Local Living Expo: Being Green Pays Off is set for 3/19/16. This year’ event will be bigger and better than ever. This is the first time this event will be at Rider University. It has expanded to include partners from nine local communities.
This year’s Expo is organized by Mercer County Sustainability Coalition (MCSC), a partnership of green teams from Lawrence Twp., Ewing, Hopewell Valley, Princeton, West Windsor, East Windsor and Trenton and sustainability nonprofits, Sustainable Princeton and Sustainable Lawrence. Other partners include Mercer County Office of Economic Development and Sustainability and the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association.
The Expo will run from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. in the Rider University gymnasium, which is located on the main campus, 2083 Lawrenceville Rd, Lawrenceville, NJ. The expo is free and open to the public. The popular event will feature sustainable local businesses, community groups, local farms, demonstrations and speakers throughout the day.
In addition to more than 60 eco-friendly vendors at the expo, visitors can learn about a variety of sustainability issues and exciting community projects such as bike paths, food waste recycling, energy efficiency and wellness.
A farmers market will feature local farms and local artisan food producers. A lunch celebrating locally sourced and seasonal ingredients will be available for purchase.
Bring your whole family, meet your neighbors, enjoy the afternoon and learn how Mercer County area residents and businesses are building sustainable communities. We hope to see you there.
Visit http://www.livinglocalexpo.net for more information about participating vendors and speakers as that information becomes available.
“Starry skies are a vanishing treasure because light pollution is washing away our view of the cosmos. It not only threatens astronomy but also disrupts wildlife, and affects human health. The glows over cities and towns — seen so clearly from space — are testament to the billions of dollars spent in wasted energy by lighting up the sky.”(1)
Whether you are concerned about light pollution or have been adversely affected by it, or just want to learn more about the issue, check out this film produced by the International Dark Sky Association and Loch Ness Productions. It does a masterful job of introducing you to the issue of light pollution and its effects upon human health, wildlife and ecosystems, and wasteful energy consumption.
From the National Wildlife Federation. We couldn’t say it better!
The end of the year holiday season has arrived at last. It is a wonderful time for gathering together to celebrate the richness of life with family and friends. But somehow, these worthy celebrations have been hijacked by the retail establishment turning the end of the year into a frenzy of shopping for gifts and overconsumption. This excessive consumption can not only be stressful and financially burdensome, but also takes a significant toll on the environment.
How much of our overconsumption normally ends up in landfills? Then think about the additional amount of waste we create during the entire holiday season from the paper, cardboard and plastic wrapping and shipping products that are used in abundance, to the disposable dishes, plastic cups, bottled water, excess wasted food… The list goes on. The Ewing Green Team has collected an extensive list of suggestions for reducing, reusing and recycling to green your holiday season. We hope that there are suggestions here for everyone.
The Holiday Greeting Card
- Send out e-cards instead of mailing them. This will save some trees, reduce the greenhouse gas emissions created while delivering them and more. It will even save $$!
- Cut back. Send your mailed holiday greetings only to those family and friends who truly will be glad to receive them.
- Wish someone a happy holiday by phone instead of sending them a card. It will make their day to be remembered with a personal connection!
- Cut up and use the cards that you received last year as tags for your gifts this year!
- Look for a higher percentage of recycled content for any cards that you do purchase.
Wrapping paper is a major and expensive source of waste. Here are a number of suggestions for greening your wrapping styles.
- Decorate with live greens from your yard instead of bows.
- Put gifts in reusable packaging, such as baskets, bags, or fabric wrappers. Who can’t use an extra basket?
- Just use a ribbon for an oversized object or make it the object of a treasure hunt.
- Be creative in your gift wrapping approach. Eschew the store bought wrapping with these suggestions from tree hugger.com or check out Pinterest for their DIY eco-friendly gift wrapping suggestions.
- Reuse gift wrap that you already have (the gift bags that are so popular in the stores are perfect for that!)
- Wrap gifts in old maps, newspaper, brown paper grocery bags or kids’ artwork. Almost any paper you have around the house is capable of being creatively repurposed.
- Don’t for get to save any bows and bags you already have for reuse. Save them for next holiday season to keep excess items out of the waste cycle.
- Don’t forget to bring your own shopping bags as you shop. You can do this most of the year. It really does get easier to remember!
- If you forget your own reusable bags, consolidate purchases into one bag rather than using several.
Be More Energy Efficient
- If you plan on updating your holiday lighting, purchase more energy efficient LED light strands instead. These are long lasting and will decrease your energy consumption by 80-90 percent!
- Don’t forget to put lights on timers while you’re away for both safety and energy reduction.
- When hosting a party, lower the thermostat. The bodies in the room will quickly heat up the room.
- Recycle your old inefficient holiday lights at Holiday LEDS.
Change your gift giving focus. How many unused gifts do you have hanging around in your closet? Donate those items to local charities. Or, better yet, instead of giving unneeded gifts to someone who already has plenty, gift them with a donation to their favorite charity in their name.
- Give the gift of an experience: from tickets to the theater or a sporting event, to music lessons, to a gift certificate for a massage. Experiences make memories and you don’t have to wrap the gift.
- Give a gift that helps someone go green. I’ve given reusable stainless steel drinking straws and water bottles, as well as reusable bags. Additional suggestions could include energy-saving power strips (think of all of those appliances that are constantly on…)
- If you plan to gift with an electronic purchase be sure to look for consider the energy efficiency of your choice. Look for Energy Star rated models from the EPA.
- Give creatively of things that require little or no packaging. Give the gift of your time i.e. cooking, babysitting, or gardening…
- Purchase locally if you can. You will use less gas and support your local economy.
- Don’t forget to unsubscribe! How many of those catalogs that you received in the mail this year did you actually purchase from? And, you can look at their products online. Use Catalog Choice to cancel nearly all catalogs in one location.
- Shipping – don’t forget to reuse packaging and shipping materials. And drop off extra peanuts at local shipping companies (check out our list here).
The Holiday Greens
Choosing between an artificial tree and a real tree can be a difficult decision. Here are some things to consider while decorating for the holidays.
- Get a tree that can be planted or mulched afterward that is native to the area. Check out the Ewing Environmental Commission’s article on Christmas tree care.
- Make your own wreaths and table centerpieces using materials from your yard or around your home.
Eat more sustainably sourced food. Buy from your local farmers. Buy organic if you can. Food that hasn’t been grown or prepared using antibiotics, growth hormones, chemical fertilizers and pesticides is better for you and the environment. Consider meat that has had humane living conditions prior to slaughter. Green your meal with more vegetables. There are a number of community supported agriculture (CSA) program in our area. Consider giving a membership them.
- So much food is prepared during the holidays and much of it is in excess of what is actually needed. Try to estimate actual head counts more accurately to eliminate excess food waste.
- Aim for a Zero- Waste event by eschewing the disposable dishware and utensils, eliminating excess packaging by serving food in large containers instead of single-servings, providing bulk water, coffee and drinks instead of individually packaged products, serving bite-sized or finger foods to minimize plate and utensil use.
- If you absolutely must use disposable products, make sure that they are made from recycled or compostable materials.
- Don’t forget that you can compost your vegetative food waste all year long.
- Encourage and participate in carpooling to and from holiday celebrations.
- Make sure your tires are fully inflated to achieve optimal gas mileage while traveling.
- Turn down your electric and gas water heaters to conserve energy and gas while you are away.
Happy Holidays from the Ewing Green Team!
As the Ewing Green Team Celebrates a Great Year
by Lisa K. Feldman
The Green Team had a great 2015, and wants to celebrate all the accomplishments and successful events of the year. One of the major facets of sustainability is building a sense of community; one that welcomes people from all walks of life. And what better way is there to celebrate but with an invitation welcoming any and all to join us at our Holiday Open House.
A few highlights of 2015 include Ewing’s very first bike tour, the Ewing Fall Spin, with over 50 people, the Fall Festival of Fun featuring the popular ‘Trunk or Treat’ with over 175 children participating, the 2nd Annual Scarecrow Contest with 13 entries and cash prizes of $100, $50 and $25, and the opportunity to make-your-own life-size scarecrow to take home, and seasonal refreshments. The Green Team’s Beautify Ewing campaign worked with the Township to design beautiful and sustainable landscaping to welcome visitors for the two entrances for the Municipal Building on Jake Garzio Drive. At this year’s Night Out event, we got to speak with a lot of our Ewing neighbors as we work to map out all the individual neighborhoods in the Township to help gain the sense of community. We started the mapping of safe routes for schools to help keep our children secure. We sponsored several Environmental Insights programs learning about Invasive Species and demystifying Nuclear Energy. We worked with the other Green Teams in Mercer County to host the Living Local Expo which welcomed over a thousand visitors. There is so much more, but this gives some ideas of what we are doing.
A lot of people in Ewing don’t even know that there is a Ewing Green Team. And there is a lot of confusion and concern about what is ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’. But it is basically raising awareness of the many issues such as recycling, transportation, pollution, local food and economic opportunities that are related to sustainability. And we see our mission as getting people to work together to improve the quality of life for present and future generations through education, cooperation, and action. And being part of this effort has been very rewarding.
Our meetings are the 4th Wednesday of each month at the Ewing Community Center at 7:00 pm and are open to the public. However, meetings are not always a good way to meet our group; we are taking care of business and it can be a bit dry. We hope you can stop by for our Holiday Open House and get to meet our members and learn first-hand how each and every one of us can make a difference.
Date: Wednesday, December 9
Time: 7 – 8:30 p.m.
Location: Ewing Senior and Community Center
Happy Holidays from the Ewing Green Team!
Environmental Insights Series
Save the date for the next entry in our Environmental Insights Series and join us on Wednesday night, November 18 at 7 pm when Professor Dan Steinberg of Princeton University will speak about Understanding the Science of Climate Change.
Learn about the causes of climate change, the science behind it, and some of predicted effects of global warming/climate change. Dr. Steinberg will also cover the social implications of communicating climate change and suggest some resources for learning more. Work done by researchers at Princeton University will be highlighted as well as their efforts in developing technologies that will help reduce carbon in the atmosphere. The talk will also include a local focus on the effects of climate change in the state of New Jersey.
A former Operations Astronomer for the Hubble Space Telescope, Dan Steinberg holds a PhD in Geophysics from Binghamton University and has conducted research at the Goddard Space Flight Center. He was recently named a 2015 Fellow by the American Physical Society for his work at the Princeton University Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, where he has held the position of Education Outreach Director since 2000. Steinberg is the creator and leader of dozens of educational initiatives that bring science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to a broad public each year, including K-12 teachers and students, undergraduates and local families in the Princeton and Trenton regions.
The EGT’s Environmental Insights Series is designed to engage area residents in a public conversation about critical environmental issues and to spark new ideas concerning sustainability. Please join us.
Date: Wednesday, November 18
Time: 7 p.m.: Ewing Senior and Community Center, 999 Lower Ferry Rd., Ewing
Cost: Free and Open to the Public