Environmental Commission Newsletter
October 2021
Fighting Climate Change Starts in Our Back Yards

Climate change due to human activity can feel like an existential crisis -- one that we are powerless to stop. The truth is that meaningful change begins with simple actions taken inside and outside our homes.

In Morris Township, our residential landscape is a great place to start. According to a 2015 NASA study, over 20% of the land area of New Jersey is covered in grass, so how we care for lawns has a big impact on the environment.

Over the decades, lawn care has become dependent on fertilizers and toxic herbicides and pesticides. Mowing and other maintenance activities create greenhouse gases.

Sustainable lawn care is a different way of thinking about your lawn—it’s about feeding the soil, not the plants. It’s about mowing less frequently, letting your grass grow longer, and mulching the clippings.

We urge you to take a look at the following resources and consider adopting any or all of these organic lawn care practices:

  • Our friends at the Environmental Commission of Madison and Sustainable Madison created a two-page brochure on Environmentally-Friendly Lawn Care. This is a simple and clearly written resource for homeowners and their landscapers. 

  • The Great Healthy Yard Project offers lots of good information on why and how to have a pesticide-free yard, and offers a more detailed brochure called Growing Without Gunk.

  • For those who want to dive deeply into this subject, the Cornell University Cooperative Extension has a 20-page presentation titled Lawn Care without Pesticides. This is a truly comprehensive resource, with step-by-step instructions, illustrations and charts, and many other helpful ideas
Exhibit at Morristown Festival on the Green Is Huge Success
The Environmental Commission met and educated hundreds of people at Morristown's Festival on the Green last month. Our members gave away packets of wild flower seeds to adults and taught children how to plant an Oak acorn. We also distributed reusable shopping bags in anticipation of the ban on single-use plastic bags that begins April 2022. It was a huge success and we plan to be there again next year.
(Members of the Environmental Commission standing in front of exhibit at Festival on the Green)
Anti-Idling Law Reduces Emissions
As we noted in the March newsletter, New Jersey has laws against excessive idling. The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and noise pollution. More than three minutes of idling is prohibited, with exceptions. Fines range from $100 to $1,500. For complaints of excessive idling, call the NJ DEPs 24-hour toll-free environmental hotline at 1-877 WARN DEP (1-877-927-6337).
Please Keep Leaves Off Streets and Out of Storm Drains
Leaves should NOT be left in the street for collection. Leaves should be on the edge of your property, and kept 10 feet from storm drains. This will NOT harm your lawn.

If you use a professional landscaper for this work, please share this guidance with them.
INCORRECT: Leaves in street. Blocks traffic and clogs storm drains.
CORRECT: Leaves on edge of property. Harmless to lawn and safer for traffic.
This drain is clogged with leaves and cannot perform it's vital function in storm water management.
Upcoming Events
Native Plant Society of NJ -- Fall 2021 Annual Conference
The society's Fall 2021 Annual Conference will be held VIRTUALLY on Saturday, November 6th. It's FREE and open to ALL! Topics include: The Dawn of Ecosystems; Recognizing and Protecting Ancient Forests; Basic Plant ID; and Rethinking the Front Lawn: Monoculture and the American Dream. For all the details and registration: www.NPSNJ.org

Great Swamp Watershed Association (GSWA) Presents Intro to Rain Gardens
Adding a rain garden to your yard is a beautiful addition to your landscape that also provides a valuable function. Join GSWA for an in-depth review of the benefits of installing a rain garden at your home and get some basic how-to suggestions. Participate in this FREE program in-person or via Zoom on Wednesday, November 3, 7:00-8:00 PM. Registration is required.
Photo of the Month
Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar feeding on Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) in late September.

This native perennial is easy to grow and vital to the lifecycle of the Monarch Butterfly. First blooms in late June. A hard pruning after the first flowering will result in reblooming.

(Photo credit: Charlie Schachter, Associate Member)
Three Ways You Can Help
  • Join our mail list and spread the word by forwarding this email to a neighbor

  • Attend the next meeting of the Environmental Commission on Dec 9 at 7 PM