Plastics – the Battle Continues

In this entertaining Tedx Talk Ann Cummins shares how she and her husband Marcus Eriksen co-founded the 5 Gyres Institute to explore plastic on a global level, and leverage their science to drive solutions.  Recent 5 Gyres findings are driving national solutions to a previously unknown source of pollution lurking in products in many of our bathrooms, microbeads.  Learn more and take action at http://www.5gyres.org/takeaction/.   Take the microbeads pledge.  

Upcoming Events You Shouldn’t Miss!

Special Events Planned for Next Week

The last week of October is a busy week.  Check out these local events to help you on your path to a more sustainable life.  From plastic pollution to organic waste practices in our county, and bike advocacy in town, there is something for everyone.

BAG IT – Is Your Life Too Plastic?

Film and Discussion 

Date: Monday, October 27, 2014
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: The College of New Jersey Library Auditorium (Basement)
Parking:  See Parking Map.
Cost: Only 2 hours or so of your time

Join the Ewing Green Team for an award winning film and discussion about plastic pollution from single use plastic bags and our disposable lifestyles.  Moderated by Noemi de la Puente, founder and organizer of the grass roots organization, njthinkoutsidethebag.

This screening is part of an ongoing effort to educate Mercer County residents about how they can be part of the solution before they vote on November 4^th on a nonbinding referendum to support a 5¢ fee on single use plastic bags.

An Environmental Insights offering, a series of films, discussions and speakers brought to you by the  Ewing Green Team, designed to engage Ewing residents in a public conversation about critical environmental issues and to spark new ideas concerning sustainability.


If It Grows, It Goes…

All you need to know about organic waste recycling

Date: Tuesday, October 28, 2014  foodwaste-istock
Time: 7 – 9 pm
Location:  Dempster Fire Academy Auditorium, 350 Lawrence Station Road, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648
Cost: Free and open to the public
Pre-registration requested

Organic waste is a part of our everyday lives.  We can’t help but encounter it every time we eat, tend to our yards, or many other daily chores.

That’s why we’re breaking it down for you.  County Executive Brian Hughes will offer opening remarks and a panel of experts will explain what organic waste is, where it goes and what happens in the recycling process. Panelists will present local success stories and how you can bring this program to your town.

The Curbside Organics Program is already in place in Princeton and is currently under contract in Lawrence and Hopewell. Other municipalities in Mercer are looking to join in the near future.

Organic waste recycling is an easy way to make a HUGE impact through small actions.  Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about it, while networking with other like-minded individuals from throughout the region.

Hosted by Sustainable Jersey, sustainability organizations from Princeton, Lawrence, Hopewell, Ewing, West Windsor and The Mercer County Office of Economic Development and Sustainability.

For more info or to register, click here    |    Download the flier   | Driving directions

*Light refreshments will be served.  Doors open at 6:30 pm.*


Bike Ewing!

Join Our New Bike Advocacy Group

Date: Thursday, October 30, 2014  bikeewing
Time: 7 pm
Location: The College of New Jersey, Social Sciences Building Room 241
Parking:  See Parking Map.

The Ewing Green Team announces the launch of a NEW Ewing Bike Advocacy Group and invites you to join with us to promote a more bicycle and pedestrian friendly community.  The 2nd meeting will be held on Thursday, October 30th.

Monthly meetings, goal setting, and other startup activities are in the planning stages.

For more information call Mark at 609- 802- 6798.

The Plastic Plague: A Call to Action

By Joanne Mullowney

“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)

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

by Peter J. Boughton

I 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.