Build a Scarecrow This Fall & Win Cash!

scarecrow3The Ewing Green Promotes Recycling With its First Annual Scarecrow Building Contest

Demonstrate your recycling smarts and creative skills this fall to win ca$h!   Make a one-of-a-kind scarecrow and enter  the Ewing Green Team’s first Annual Scarecrow Contest this October.  The contest is open to all Ewing individuals, school groups, families, youth groups, service clubs and business groups. Winners will be judged on originality, artistry and the creative use of recycled materials. All scarecrows must be constructed of at least 80% recycled, reclaimed, and/or reused materials.  Materials like glue, nails, string, or other means of attaching items will count toward the allowable 20%new materials.  They must be named to help describe/identify the creative theme and must also be 4-5 feet tall (without stake) and 2-4 feet wide.

There will be Prizes!

Mayor Bert Steinmann will judge (schedule permitting), along with the Ewing Arts Commission. There will be prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd of $100, $50 and $25 gift cards.

Judging will be on Saturday, October 25th at 2:00 at the Ewing Community Gardens at Whitehead Extension Road.   So, please join us for hot apple cider and refreshments as we gather together to see who can make recycling into art whiling have fun and celebrating the fall season.

For registration and details check out our contest page at www.ewinggreenteam.org/scarecrow-contest/ or if you have any questions, please call Lisa at 609-620-0722. The deadline for registration is October 20, 2014.

Posted in Community Building, Contest, recycling, Scarecrow Contest | Leave a comment

Reminder – MCIA Hazardous Waste Disposal Day Today

recycleimageThe MCIA will be running a Household Waste and Electronics Disposal Day today, Sept 20th from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. It will be held at John T. Dempster Fire School, Lawrence Station Rd in Lawrence Twp.

Accepted for recycling are the following:

Aerosol Cans | Used Motor Oil |Propane Gas Tanks | Pesticides & Herbicides | Car Batteries | Paint Thinner | Oil Based Paint | Stains & Varnishes | Gasoline | Anti-Freeze | Driveway Sealer | Insect Repellents | Mercury | Fluorescent & CFL Bulbs | Computers | Printers | Copiers | Fax Machines | Stereos | Televisions | Microwaves

Materials Not Accepted:

NO LATEX PAINT | NO Heating Oil | NO Infectious Waste| NO Radioactive Materials NO Explosives or Munitions | NO Railroad Ties | NO Asbestos | NO Tires | NO Wood NO Fencing | NO Air Conditioners | NO Helium or Oxygen Tanks | NO Unknowns

For Mercer County Residents Only. Only Residential Waste will be accepted, i.e. no Commercial Business waste. Proof of Residency will be required (Driver’s License). For more information call 609-278-8086 or visit WWW.MCIANJ.ORG.

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Sweet Jersey Corn

grilledcorn2By Jo Ann Povia of GardenStateOnAPlate.com

It’s been a glorious year for fresh New Jersey sweet corn. Here are some tips for making the most of the final weeks of the season.

  • The best place to purchase corn is at a local farm selling its own crop. Visit http://www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov for a list of farm stands and farmers markets throughout the county. Our favorites include Kerr’s Kornstand, in Pennington, and Sansone’s Farm in Hopewell. But we recommend you try farms from across the county, they are all deserving of our support.
  • Corn is sensitive to heat. Corn stands should provide shelter from the sun and if you will be transporting the corn for any length of time, or keeping it in your car, make sure you pack it in a cooler.
  • Choose corn that has fresh green husks and moist silk. Pull back the husk to check for plump kernels. If you are buying in a store, do not shuck the corn (no matter how convenient the garbage bin next to the display may appear). The husks protect flavor.
  • Corn is best eaten the day it is purchased. If not, store it tightly wrapped in an air-tight container. Corn freezes well. Blanch whole ears for five minutes, before storing in heavy freezer bags.
  • Corn can be cooked several ways, with or without the husks. Our favorite grill method is to simply pull back the husks and tie them to create handles, remove the silk, and lay them on a hot grill. Turn the ears frequently until the ears develop a nice char.
  • If cooking indoors, corn can be steamed. Bring a pot with about 2 inches of water in the bottom to a brisk boil, place corn in a steam basket and steam for 4-6 minutes.

Corn is extremely versatile. For something different from the standard corn-on-the-cob method of eating corn, try adding corn to salsas or summer soups, mix grilled corn to quinoa and squash, or use it as a topping for salad. Below are two recipes that benefit from the use of fresh corn.

Mexican Street Corn (Elotes)

Adapted by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, founder of seriouseats.com

I don’t know how I spent decades consuming fresh corn before being introduced to the wonders of Mexican Street corn. I have to admit, that I prefer to eat the best corn, at the height of the season, without even the usual additions of butter and salt. So when I first heard about this dish I was not enthused. But if you’re a purist like me, don’t let the ingredients dissuade you. This is a delicious summer indulgence.

One of the keys to this dish is to use corn cooked directly on a hot grill. The caramelized kernels proved by the char is an essential part of the final blend of sweet and savory flavors. If you can’t find cotija cheese, Italian ricotta salada or Greek feta are excellent substitutes.

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or Mexican crema
  • 1/2 cup finely crumbled cotija cheese or ricotta salada (our preference)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1 medium clove garlic, finely minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
  • 4 ears grilled corn
  • 1 -2 limes, cut into wedges (for diners to add a squeeze of lime juice just prior to eating)

Combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, cheese, chili powder, garlic and cilantro in medium bowl.
Place grilled corn on a platter and smother with the mixture. Serve with lime wedges.

Corn Cakes

Adapted from David Lebovitz Davidlebovitz.com, who had adapted original recipe from Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters

I like my corn cakes on the sweet side, served with butter and real Vermont maple syrup. If you prefer a more savory version, reduce the honey and add fresh herbs, such as basil, thyme or cilantro. These cakes pair well with sausage or bacon for breakfast, served with sour cream or alongside a summer salad of Jersey tomatoes and mixed greens.

They also make a great, gluten free alternative to pancakes. (Make sure that your corn flour is certified as manufactured in a gluten free environment.)

Makes 12- 16 corn cakes

  • 1 1/2 cups corn flour (available in large markets, specialty stores and health food stores)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed (plus more for frying)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 -3 large ears of fresh corn, enough for 2 ½ cups of corn
  • 3 large eggs, separated (you will have one extra yoke)
  1. Heat the butter, milk and honey, in a small sauce pan until butter is melted. Set aside until tepid.
  2. Combine the corn flour, baking powder, salt and chili powder in a large bowl. Create a well in the center, and stir in the melted butter and milk mixture, stir in the milk mixture, 2 egg yolks and the corn.
  3. Beat the 3 egg whites in a mixer until stiff, and then fold into the corn mixture.
  4. Heat some butter in a skillet. Use a large spoon, ladle or scoop to place mounds of batter carefully into the pan. Space appropriately. They will spread slightly depending on the thickness of your batter. Press slightly with spatula if necessary.
  5. The cakes should cook on one side until they brown on the bottom and edges bubble. Flip and cook on the other side until lightly browned – about a minute.
  6. Serve immediately, or place cooked corn cakes in a sheet pan kept in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve.
Posted in Corn, Jersey Fresh, Local Food, Recipes | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Plastic Plague: A Call to Action

By Joanne Mullowney

iStock_000027867238Smallplasticbaginocean“I just want to say one word to you. Just one word… Are you listening? … Plastics.”  Never has there been a phrase quite so retrospectively chilling as these words spoken to new graduate, Benjamin Braddock, in The Graduate in 1967 when our love affair with plastic was beginning to shift into high gear. A revolutionary synthetic product whose usage would allow for conservation of scarce natural resources, its usage surged over time and replaced traditional materials in product after product. Versatile and inexpensive, manufacturers continued to find new usages for plastics in both products and packaging. Disposability and convenience became bywords as we adopted a more throw away life style. However, today we are reaping the consequences of that thoughtless embrace of disposability. We have found that the great disposable product is not so easily disposed of. Our landfills are overflowing with plastic debris, but also significantly, because all streams eventually find their way to the sea, our oceans have become riddled with it. Today, the health of the oceanic ecosystem is in danger, from the smallest plankton thru all levels of the food chain to the largest whale.

Not since Michael Pollack’s expose about our industrial food system in the Omnivore’s Dilemma have I found a book to be as eye-opening and chilling as Plastic Ocean, Captain Michael Moore’s exposé that documents the degradation of the health of our seas. In it, Captain Moore describes his love affair with the sea, dating back to his teens in the sixties. In 1997 he began to notice significant changes when returning home in a trans-Pacific race. After taking a shortcut through the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, a vast “oceanic desert” where slack wind patterns cause sailboats to languish, he came across the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This is one of 5 such gyres now known that are vast repositories of plastic garbage of all kinds, creating a kind of vast plastic soup. Outraged and concerned, Captain Moore began to investigate the increasing evidence of the plastic debris in our seas and on our shores. Plastic Ocean not only records the results of his investigations, but issues a call to action.

In it we learn the effects of plastic non-biodegradability in any practical human scale of time, especially because of the cooler ocean temperatures. We learn that familiar plastic products like bags, foam cups, pens, bottles and their caps, and debris such as fishing nets abandoned overboard by fishermen abound at sea as oceanic plastic pollution and that scientific research is showing that increasing numbers of the deaths of seabirds, fish, turtles and other marine mammals can be attributed to ingestion or entanglement in plastic debris. During his numerous Pacific voyages, Captain Moore has also documented the breakdown of plastics into “microplastics” when exposed to sunlight and other environmental stresses. These smaller scraps remain a plastic polymer and non-biodegradable. Unfortunately, they appear jellyfish like and are readily ingested by multiple marine creatures. In inverse proportion to their size, these are proving to be a grave threat to the health of the entire oceanic ecosystem.

Our Call to Action

This November 4th Mercer County voters will have the opportunity to take a place among progressive communities across the country and around the globe to vote “yes” on a non-binding referendum to impose a 5¢ fee on single use plastic bags. This will be an important first step in reducing the plague of plastic pollution and litter that imperils our environment and our health. Fee imposition has been shown to be the one method of curtailing usage that truly works.

I encourage you to educate yourselves about our plastic plague before making your decision on November 4th. Read Plastic Ocean. It will open your eyes to the immensity and immediacy of the problem. Attend the Ewing Green Team’s Environmental Insights series film and discussion of the movie, Bag It, on Monday, October 27th where we follow everyman, Jeff Berrier, as he tries to make sense of our dependence on plastic bags. Then, see if you can cast other than a “yes” vote on this issue on November 4th.

Before Nov 4th Do the Following:

Attend: Green Team’s Environmental Insights Series Film and Discussion of the Movie, BAG IT
Date: Monday, October 27th
Time: 7 pm
Location: TCNJ – Library Auditorium
Cost: Free of charge – all are welcome

Read: Plastic Ocean
Title: Plastic Ocean: How a Sea Captain’s Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Oceans
Author: Captain Michael Moore with Cassandra Phillips
Date: Paperback, 2012
Publisher: Avery Trade; Reprint edition
Availability: Amazon (link); Mercer County Library (link)

Posted in Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Plastic, pollution, referendum | Leave a comment

One Man’s Opinion on New Jersey’s Participation in RGGI, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

by Peter J. Boughton

powerplantpollutionI retired from the NJ DEP in 2013 after 10 years. During that time I watched in dismay as NJ sank from pride in the forefront of clean environment and leader in alternative energy encouragement. I had been very proud that NJ was one of the states in the RGGI consortium. In fact I interviewed for an RGGI position just as it was being shut down. One reason I left DEP was the erosion of progressive approaches to energy conservation by encouraging alternative energy generation such as solar, wind and hydro away from coal and oil. Imposed top down management was substituted for professional individual initiative and monies were diverted from helping to fund innovative solutions. It is time for NJ to regain the positive momentum and rejoin RGGI. The claim that most of our pollution is contributed from the US mid-west is bogus. There are in fact pockets of air and water and soil pollution contributed by older local power plants that harm the health of nearby residents, who often tend to be the poor, the elderly, the very young, and the disadvantaged; this leads to burdening our healthcare and educational systems.

We in NJ also owe it to downstream recipients of our pollution, which in fact negatively impacts Europe and Africa on far-reaching air and water currents. We ought to incentivize our own coal and gas and oil burning power plants to upgrade in all sorts of ways to reduce their polluting. An excellent way is the cap and trade where CO2 tonnage is proportionately assessed and the monies redirected to funding the innovations. This makes good business sense and provides good jobs especially in technology, engineering and construction. Ratepayers will also benefit as efficiencies move into the system. A multi-state regional effort is a common-sense leader until a national system is put in place.

Our state should regain pride of place. We have been lagging the past 6 or 7 years in retaining and gaining skilled jobs that make best use of the young professionals graduating from our schools and the experienced professionals who otherwise stay away and move away. Both the capital improvements and the salaries will restore tax dollars to the state’s dire budget shortfalls. I urge the readers of this commentary to take personal responsibility to see the many common sense reasons to restore progress rather than regress NJ into the lower tiers of states. Do not let a top-down administration sap your personal responsibility and sense of right. Do the right thing for your family and your neighbors and vote and verbalize your conscience in this matter. The thanks of many will buck you up if you do. Thank you for taking these concepts to heart and doing the right thing.

Add Your Two Cents

The last day to submit your comments to the NJDEP regarding our state’s participation in RGGI is Friday, September 5th.  To submit your comments and concerns go to http://nj.gov/dep/rules/comments/.  You may also sign your name to Environment New Jersey’s online petition here.  Thank you for all you do.

Posted in pollution, RGGI | Leave a comment

The Work of Community Building Continues

matrixThe July 30th monthly Ewing Green Team meeting was an eventful one, as Ewing residents began, along with the Ewing Green team, the process of  building on the ideas generated the June 7th Community Visioning Day.  The meeting’s purpose was to formulate practical actions regarding the goals that residents articulated in June and a full roster of participants indicated their interest in the task at hand.

Led by Lori Braunstein and Natalie Barney, our facilitators from Maga Sustainability, an Action Prioritization Matrix was created which contained a summary of all of the key performance actions selected by the meeting participants on June 7th as well as additional actions in the area of Community Engagement and Waste/Recycling from the meeting on July 30th.  It contains, in addition, a rating by the members of the July 30th audience, of the “doability” of the actions listed in those two categories.  The key performance actions for the additional categories will be fleshed out and rated during the August and September Green Team meetings, so be sure to attend.

For all who might be interested, all documents generated from the Visioning process can be found on our website under Conversation Documents.

Posted in Community Building, Community Conversation, Key Performance Areas, Maga Sustainability, strategic planning, Waste/Recycling | Leave a comment

The Benefits of Green Cleaning

cleaningI don’t know about you but my life seems busier than ever these days. And cleaning just seems to add to the already burgeoning list of responsibilities. It’s what pulls me to the latest product that promises to make annoying chores even easier. But, ever wonder what’s in that container?

Realize that a large number of marketed cleaning products contain a brew of harsh chemicals which can be bad for your health — and your kids’ health. Moreover, who’s to say it is any more effective than some of the tried and true ‘recipes’ of the past – that we know work well, are often less expensive and are safer in the long run. If you’re someone like me who cleans my home regularly – take some time to consider it.

Reasons to Green Your Cleaning

But, don’t just take my word for it – here are some other reasons to consider going green:

  1. Healthier Home
    Studies have shown that using a household cleaning spray, even as little as once a week, raises the risk of developing asthma. Using green cleaning products can reduce the chances of developing asthma, which “today is the most common chronic illness and the leading cause of school absences due to chronic illness across the country.”
  2. Purer Environment
    Changing to greener methods, helps reduce pollution to our waterways and the air and it minimizes your impact on ozone depletion and global climate change with fewer smog-producing chemicals. Many green products also use recyclable packaging which minimizes waste.
  3. Safer Products
    Conventional cleaning products pose risks such as chemical burns to the cleaner’s skin and eyes. Green cleaners aren’t corrosive and meet strict standards regarding inhalation toxicity, combustibility and skin absorption.
  4. Better Air Quality
    Green
    cleaning products — including store bought and ones you can make at home — include pleasant natural essential oils. Reichert even refers to cleaning with these products as her “aromatherapy.”
  5. Less Expensive
    The cost of environmentally friendly cleaning products has become much more competitive, while cleaning in an environmentally sound way reduces the risk of sick days for employees and the risk of fires and chemical spills.
  6. Fewer Anti-bacterials
    We are told by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that washing with antibacterial soaps isn’t any better than regular soaps, and the American Medical Association (AMA) says that the frequent use of antibacterial ingredients can promote bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Triclosan, a common antibacterial agent found in many soaps, [may] mess with your hormonal system and thyroid. Most green or environmentally friendly cleaning products don’t contain antibacterial agents.
  7. More Knowledge of Ingredients
    Government regulations don’t require ingredients to be listed on any cleaning products.

Natural Cleaning

Here is a list of common, environmentally safe products which can be used alone or in combination for a wealth of household applications – that may surprise you – they did me!

  • Baking Soda – cleans, deodorizes, softens water, scours.
  • Soap – unscented soap in liquid form, flakes, powders or bars is biodegradable and will clean just about anything. Avoid using soaps which contain petroleum distillates.
  • Lemon – one of the strongest food-acids, effective against most household bacteria.
  • Borax – (sodium borate) cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens water, cleans wallpaper, painted walls and floors.
  • White Vinegar – cuts grease, removes mildew, odors, some stains and wax build-up.
  • Washing Soda - or SAL Soda is sodium carbonate decahydrate, a mineral. Washing soda cuts grease, removes stains, softens water, cleans wall, tiles, sinks and tubs. Use care, as washing soda can irritate mucous membranes. Do not use on aluminum.
  • Isopropyl Alcohol - is an excellent disinfectant.
  • Cornstarch - can be used to clean windows, polish furniture, shampoo carpets and rugs.
  • Citrus Solvent – cleans paint brushes, oil and grease, some stains.

Is Borax Safe?

Folks may question whether Borax is safe.  Borax is considered a mild skin irritant similar to baking soda. The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) lists borax as a health hazard of 1, similar to salt and baking soda. A health concern with borax is with its potential to disrupt the reproductive system. Studies have not been done in humans regarding this; however, potential reproductive issues in mice are suspected from high levels of ingested borax. Use of borax for home cleaning formulas, where no borax is ingested, has not been shown to pose health hazards. Borax is a natural substance which is non-carcinogenic, does not accumulate in the body, or absorb through the skin. It is not harmful to the environment.

More Info

For information on green cleaning options that you can make at home, here are a couple of great resources:

And for off the shelf products, here are a couple of choices:

Jennifer Keyes-Maloney

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