Environmental Commission Newsletter
November 2021
Making the Holidays Sustainable

The Holiday Season is full of festivity and joy. We celebrate by decorating our homes, enjoying bountiful food, and exchanging gifts.

On January 2, however, we collectively dispose of mountains of waste. Below are three ways you can make the holidays more sustainable for our environment.
Sustainable gift wrapping: Each year Americans use 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper. Paper with coatings, glitter, foil, bows, etc. is generally not recyclable and can even jam up expensive machinery. Generally, if you can scrunch it up and it stays in a tight ball, it is paper-based and can be recycled. Learn more about the “Scrunch Test” and other paper recycling tips

There are many recyclable, reusable, sustainable gift wrap options. First, reuse what you already own, old maps, posters, magazines, craft paper, wall paper scraps, last year’s calendar, brown paper bags, newspapers, and any other papery-products you have laying around. You can even choose a type of paper or pattern that hints at the gift contained inside.

Paper gift bags can be reused multiple times, while fabric gift bags will last even longer. Speaking of fabric, scarves, bandanas, pillowcases, extra loose fabric from sewing projects, even graphic tee-shirts can make excellent DIY gift wrap options.
Sustainable table settings and other decorations: Think nature! Arrangements of pinecones, acorns, gourds, and evergreen clippings make great centerpieces. Use fabric napkins and tablecloths to save paper, as well as reusable (or compostable) dishes, silverware and glasses.

Lessen your carbon footprint even more by buying secondhand goods. Thrift stores carry an amazing and eclectic variety of holiday-ware that can be used year after year.
Sustainable holiday menu: According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, a third of all the food produced in the US ends up in the trash. As that food decomposes, it gives off methane, a greenhouse gas estimated to be 86 times more potent at driving global warming than carbon dioxide.

Planning meals out in advance and then sticking to a shopping list can help cut down on food waste. Storing fruits and vegetables at optimal conditions can help them last longer. And be creative when cooking -- you can bend the rules and substitute ingredients you have on hand for those that require yet another trip to the supermarket. And, of course, please compost your plant-based food waste. See our comprehensive guide to composting to learn more.
Leave the Leaves This Fall
While your yard may look “dead” in winter, it sustains a host of creatures when you leave leaf piles, flower stalks, and other debris in place. Fallen leaves, for example, provide important habitat for moths, butterflies and other insects in the winter.

Unfortunately, when we rake, shred, and discard the leaves in an effort to tidy the lawn, we inadvertently kill everything living in them.

Turn over a new leaf and try a fresh approach to landscaping this fall. Rake your leaves into your garden beds, or into "tidy" piles in the corners of your yard. Allow the caterpillars to overwinter, and enjoy the beautiful moths and butterflies in your native flower garden next summer. Learn more about "leaving the leaves" from the Xerces Society of Invertebrate Conservation.
Meet Us at Grow It Green's Winter Farmers' Market
The Environmental Commission will have a booth at Grow It Green's Winter Farmers' Market this year!

Meet members of the commission, learn what we are doing, and let us know which environmental issues concern you most.

The market is open on Sundays, from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM, at the Convent Train Station, Convent Rd., Morris Township. It runs from December 5, 2021 to March 27, 2022. Learn more.
"Skip the Straw" Law Starts Now
As of November 4, 2021, food-service businesses may provide single-use plastic straws to a customer only upon request.

The restriction on single-use plastic straws is part of a broader state law banning the sale or provision of: (1) single-use plastic bags from stores and food-service businesses; (2) single-use paper bags from larger grocery stores (2,500 square feet or more); and (3) use of polystyrene foam food-service products.

These additional provisions of the law take effect on May 4, 2022 and will supersede any established local laws at that time. Learn more from Bag Up NJ.
Jersey-Friendly Yards Webinar
Landscaping for a Healthy Environment - December 7 at 7pm

Join this free webinar, hosted by the Hudson County Chapter of the Native Plant Society of New Jersey. Explore the Jersey-Friendly Yards website, including the tools and resources that you can use to create a "Jersey-Friendly Yard."

Learn the importance of a healthy foundation of soil, how to implement water conservation in the garden, and learn ways to attract pollinators, birds, and wildlife to your yard using native plants. To register, please visit the Native Plant Society of New Jersey website.
Tip of the Month: Avoid Oriental Bittersweet
Oriental Bittersweet, with its bright red berries, is widely used for holiday decorations, especially door wreaths. There are two types of bittersweet vine, American and oriental. Oriental bittersweet is a noxious invasive that poses serious harm to New Jersey's native plants and woodlands. Read more to learn how to identify, and stay away from, oriental bittersweet, in your holiday decorating and beyond.
The Environmental Newsletters We Read
Graphic Courtesy of Aspetuck Land Trust
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