Every day, we hear catch phrases like, reduce your carbon footprint, preserve mother earth, go green and environmental sustainability. But until you take it to task and become environmentally pro-active, will it make a difference. Going green is our plan for good government. From the simplest task of banning vehicle idling and broadening the recycling program, to more complex projects such as installing solar panels, acquiring hybrid vehicles, and most recently up-scaling fallen trees into useable products, we are committed to protecting our land and maintaining a healthy quality of life for generations to come.
As a recipient of the New Jersey Clean Energy and Sustainable New Jersey programs, we were able to make upgrades to public buildings including replacing boilers, switches, thermostats, light fixtures, and sensors. The grants also allowed our Shade Tree committee to expand the municipal tree planting and maintenance program. We all know healthy trees contribute to clean air and more shade, which reduces energy use. However, the town has recently partnered with Citilogs, so that unhealthy and fallen municipal trees will be recycled and up-scaled into furniture or other custom pieces.
Our local schools, restaurants, and public buildings are now finding alternatives to using foam cups and plates since our ban on Styrofoam was banned in town last year. Styrofoam floats on water and because it breaks down into small pieces, and gets into our water system affecting marine life. Hydraulic fracturing is another abrasive process that uses hazardous materials for natural gas during drilling. There is no good use for this ‘fracking’ process and will not be an allowed practice here.
Petroleum and diesel fuel are two of the most common offenders to the environment. Idling has long been common practice for vehiclesincluding trucks at rest during long hauls, or making deliveries to local businesses. We have adopted ordinance to ban the hazardous habit that gets you nowhere, wastes fuel, and emits toxins into the environment. So, the next time you find yourself idling on a local street talking to a friend or waiting to pick someone up, consider turning the motor off. You have a lot to save, including the ever rising cost of a gallon of gasoline.
You may have noticed we have been replacing old municipal vehicles with energy efficient hybrids, that produces fewer emissions and uses less gas than traditional vehicles. The hybrids arecurrently being used in our traffic patrol, OEM, and other municipal departments. With one natural gas vehicle in our fleet, we are in the process of installing a natural filling station for future use of these vehicles.
The endless benefits of solar panels such as renewability and having no negative impact on the environment, makes it a good choice. Solar panels are now on public buildings including schools, DPW and municipal parking lots. An extra bonus to solar panels is the noticeable savings on utility bills. This initiative has been funded through the NJ Meadowlands Commission and Hudson County. Earlier this year the town participated in the Hudson County Cooperative Purchasing System to publicly bid on a joint electricity purchase to reduce the electric rate and consumption through alternative green methods. The initiative was astonishingly successful and generated a 32 percent rate reduction.
Our community has always maintained a strong relationship with agencies including the Hackensack Riverkeeper, and NJMC. Surrounded by water, the Hackensack River has many protected estuaries, that are home to protected wildlife. These agencies as well as local groups like Ernst and Young, Boy and Girl Scout Troops contribute to the ecosystem through river and wooded parks clean-ups and Project Pride.
The town collects a small parking fee per vehicle at Dinosaur Field Station at Laurel Hill to be used toward our many local environmental programs. All of our parks have undergone full upgrades with water and safety features as well as green landscaping.
Even the smallest initiatives such as changing indoor lighting have a big impact on reducing reliance on inefficient and hazardous products such as fossil fuel. We need to always think about future generations and the kind of planet we are leaving for them to use. The less energy we use, the less negative impact we have on the environment.