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  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
    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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Community Visioning Summary

visioningsummaryThis past June 7th a group of Ewing residents and neighbors met to have a conversation about a sustainable future for Ewing Township.   A number of key performance areas were identified by participants as being of primary interest during this first Community Conversation.  These areas included Community Engagement, Waste and Recycling, Conservation and Preservation, Development, Economy, and Community Branding.   Numerous great ideas emerged for each topic that merit refinement and development.

The Ewing Green Team plans to continue these conversations at our next three meetings.  We hope to build on the ideas generated to formulate practical actions that will advance the goals that attendees helped articulate.   All Ewing residents are welcome to join us in continuing the conversation at the coming Green Team monthly meetings at the Ewing Senior and Community Center:

  • On July 30th beginning at 6:30pm we will focus on building Community as well as Waste and Recycling issues in our town.
  • At our August 27th meeting at 7pm we will focus on Development, and on Conservation and Preservation
  • On September 24th  at 7pm we will focus on Community Branding and on Local Economy

Click on the image above for more details on the results of the day.  The initial report has been attached.

Our Conversation facilitators, Lori and Natalie will run the meeting on July 30th and return in October to help us develop a feasible set of action plans based on what is generated during these meetings.  Public participation in this process is key if we want to develop a broad, representative approach to shaping and preserving Ewing’s future.  We hope that you will be able to attend our meetings for any and all of the topics.  Please consider these meetings as opportunities to learn about and become involved in the wide range of issues the Green Team and Ewing residents are working on.  The Green Team also has additional actions underway or under study that were not discussed in June.

July Meeting Information

Date: June 30th
Time: 6:30 pm
Location: Ewing Senior and Community Center, 999 Upper Ferry Road, Ewing
Topics: Community Engagement and Waste/Recycling

Posted in Community Conversation, Ewing's Sustainable Future, Meetings, strategic planning, visioning | Leave a comment

Goodbye, Mary Jane

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Ewing Green Team lost a major player recently when Vice Chair Mary Jane Leach moved to Georgia. We will miss her but know that Ewing’s loss will definitely be Decatur’s gain.

See this preview of a Ewing Green Team scrapbook for photos of her tenure with the GT.

Posted in history, Mary Jane Leach | Leave a comment

Mow and Go: Grasscycling Update

mowerThe Ewing Green Team once again invites all Ewing residents to help create a greener Ewing through grasscycling.  So what exactly is grasscycling? It sounds like you should be putting your clippings out at the curb with the rest of the recycling, right?  In fact, that is not the case at all.  Grasscycling is the natural recycling of grass by leaving clippings on the lawn when mowing.  They should not be bagged for curb disposal.  Grasscycling reduces the amount of materials in your household trash and at the same time creates a valuable natural resource that will break down naturally and fertilize your lawn.   It’s simple, easy, saves time, money and energy.  Take a look at the following video to see how easy it is.  Then read the rest of this post below if you have any additional questions.


When you leave your grass clippings on your lawn to decompose; it acts as a natural organic fertilizer supplying half of the nitrogen your lawn needs to thrive. Clippings, which are 80% water, settle between the blades of grass where they shelter the roots from the sun – conserving moisture. They also cool the roots and block weed growth.  Your lawn will remain healthy and green because each time you mow; you will return valuable nutrients to the soil and ultimately need to water less frequently.

Grasscycling begins with proper mowing

To maintain your lawn properly, mow high and mow often, so that you never take off more than 1/3 of the length of the grass. This will result in an attractive, neatly trimmed lawn.  Keep grass mowed to 2” in early spring, gradually raise the height to 3-4” by summer, then gradually reduce to 2” by late fall.

You don’t have to go out to buy a new mower. While most new mowers are mulching mowers; you can attach mulching equipment to your existing mower. Just remove the grass catcher. Ask your lawn mower dealer if you need a special safety plug or adapter kit to convert your mower into a ‘recycling’ mower; installing a mulching blade also is helpful.


There are times when grasscycling does not work. Prolonged wet weather, mower breakdowns, or infrequent mowing are situations where the large number of grass clippings should probably be collected. Add those clippings to your compost pile or use them as mulch around trees, flower beds, and shrubs.  The addition of this organic matter will ultimately improve your soil; sandy soils will retain more water and heavy clay soils will become more productive.

So Why Grasscycle?

So grasscycle for a healthy green lawn; to save a lot of green; and to be environmentally green.  Take advantage of the beneficial organic matter it adds to the soil making it greener and healthier, crowding out weeds and reducing the need for fertilizer.  Save time and effort by eliminating the bagging, raking and disposing of grass clippings.  And finally, help the environment by reducing water and fertilizer requirements and reducing toxic runoff entering storm drains and polluting creeks and rivers.  It’s the ‘green’ thing to do.

Take Our GrassCycle Pledge

Posted in grasscycling, lawn care, mowing, recycling | Leave a comment

Community Conversation Initiates Discussion on Sustainability Issues in Ewing

CBP_0965Just over two weeks ago over 50 concerned Ewing residents, township staff and elected officials  met to have a discussion about a sustainable future for Ewing Township.   It was a gorgeous day and in fact according to one attendee ” I truthfully wanted to skip it when I saw what a beautiful day it was, but I’m so glad that I went!  I think this will be a very beneficial process for Ewing, if it is communicated to and shared with the community.”

In fall of 2013, Ewing Township obtained its first bronze-level of Sustainable Jersey certification.  Using the funds made possible from  a $10,000 Sustainable Jersey Small Grant funded by PSEG Foundation, the team is using a community visioning process to plan for the next 3 year certification.   By consulting the community on what is important to them, the Ewing Green Team plans to respond with a coordinated strategy plan that is specific to what the people of Ewing value and want.  The  Community Conversation on June 7th was the first step in the process. The Green Team will now take the input gathered from the participants and work to develop and prioritize specific goals.  Look for development of specific topics developed at the visioning to be further refined at the summer Green Team meetings.  A second visioning workshop is targeted for fall 2014. The community be invited to come together again to review the sustainability goals that were developed.

Zero Waste Report

Our first conversation was a low-waste effort.  We saw many travel mugs and personal beverage containers.  We were pleased to obtain about ½ of a bag of compostable materials which were taken to the compost bins at the Community Gardens on Whitehead Road Extension.  There was about ¼ of a bag of actual “garbage” that will end up in a landfill.  And the rest of the trash was recyclable.  We kept the badges – the plastic containers are reusable (we hope see community members again during our meetings as we brainstorm for a plan and at the Fall review) and the paper insert was recyclable.

It required a little bit more effort to plan for a low waste event, but for a gathering of our size we felt that the results justified our efforts.  From the cloth napkins to the absence of extraneous handouts and paper, to the lack of individual sized containers (e.g. sugar packets, individual creamers and tubs and jars of condiments, etc.) and even to the double sided badge with the agenda, we tried to reduce our use of unnecessary packaging, plastic and garbage in general.

The public is invited to attend the next Ewing Green Team meeting on June 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the Ewing Senior and Community Center where the members will begin to brainstorm on some of the initial themes developed from the visioning session.

Posted in Bronze Certification, Capacity Building, Community Conversation, Ewing's Sustainable Future, Meetings, plan, strategic planning, Sustainable Jersey, visioning | Leave a comment