Sustainable Jersey Masthead

Spring 2021
Municipalities Certified: 219, Participating: 458 ♦ Schools Certified: 321, Participating: 1021 ♦ Districts Participating: 372


Sustainability in Action: Six Success Stories

Pascack Valley High School Beekeeping Program (Bergen County)

Pascack Valley High School Beekeeping Program (Bergen County)

Behind the science wing of Pascack Valley High School, thousands of honeybees are enjoying a new home. The high school launched an innovative student beekeeping program with help from a $2,000 Sustainable Jersey Grant, funded by the New Jersey Education Association. The program required two beehives; beekeeping suits, jackets, veils and gloves; a honey extractor; and various tools that are important in working with the bees and keeping the hives healthy. The project is led by Kristen Lindstrom, a dynamic Pascack Valley High School biology teacher and environmental club advisor. Lindstrom learned about bees from her father, who is a beekeeper. She said, "I thought this would be a unique opportunity to teach students about the importance of honeybees as pollinators and to get them involved in something hands-on to learn about the environment and the impact that these insects have on our food production and ecosystem." Interested students participate in the Pascack Valley Beekeeping Club (PV Bee Club). In addition to hands-on activities inside the apiary, the club meetings and lectures by pollinator experts and master beekeepers are used to inform and engage the students. The students plan to collect the honey from this year's harvest and sell it to the community to support the program. Beautiful jars and a custom label have been created to package the special product. The PV Bee Club hosted a club logo design contest as part of a collaboration with the Innovation and Design class. The current logo was created by Jack Saul who is a former PV student. The hive stands were constructed by PV technology education teacher Jim Kennedy. Although the program was delayed due to COVID restrictions, it is now on track to grow in the years ahead. PV Bee Club updates are provided on Instagram and Twitter. The student produced PVTV News did an excellent video segment on the bee project: BEEVEE-TV.

Westfield's Adopt-a-Drain Program a First in NJ (Union County)

Westfield's Adopt-a-Drain Program a First in NJ (Union County)

The Town of Westfield has the first and, hopefully not for long, only Adopt-a-Drain program in New Jersey. In June 2020, the Westfield Department of Public Works and the Westfield Green Team teamed up to launch the New Jersey Adopt-a-Drain program, to protect the Rahway River watershed from pollutants that flow into the Rahway River from the town's 2,750 storm drains. Currently, 217 drains have been adopted by 149 residents who volunteer to keep their drain clear of leaves, trash and debris. Local flooding and road erosion will be reduced. Signup, cleaning and reporting are simple and may be safely completed at, or near, the citizen's yard. The project is a partnership with Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota and the Union County Rutgers Environmental Stewards program. The results are measured by the number of residents participating and the quantity of trash/leaves/debris removed from storm drains reported by participants. To date, more than 755 pounds of debris have been cleaned. The program is promoted through social media, the municipal website, local media, flyers and word of mouth. The Westfield Department of Public Works predicts that the project will reduce staff time normally spent unclogging drains. In June 2021, the Westfield Green Team will celebrate the one-year anniversary of the program; awards are planned including the best drain names, the most cleaning recorded and the most debris removed. Also, an Instagram account is set to launch (@njadoptadrain) in partnership with Hamline University. The Town of Westfield is Sustainable Jersey certified at the silver-level and the 2020 recipient of the Sustainable Jersey Rookie of the Year Award.

City of Newark Provides National Model for Removing Lead in Drinking Water (Essex County)

City of Newark Provides National Model for Removing Lead in Drinking Water (Essex County)

In 2019, City of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Department of Water and Sewer Utilities Director Kareem Adeem acted quickly to address growing concerns over Newark's lead water crisis. As tests of filtered water returned with elevated lead results and consumption of bottled water increased, efforts were made to fast-track funding for replacement of all the city's 21,000 lead service lines. Two years later, over 19,200 of Newark's lead service lines have been replaced. In addition to implementing the Lead Service Line Replacement Program, Newark has several city-wide programs to reduce or eliminate lead concentrations at the tap. Newark is operating a new corrosion control treatment system and distributing free water filters and filter replacement cartridges that remove 99 percent of lead to residents. Because most Newark residents are renters, Newark created a Lead Safe Certificate ordinance that requires landlords to have their property inspected and to obtain a lead safe certificate before allowing rentals or leases. An interactive website ( shares what Newark is doing to address the problem and allows residents to see if their home is listed as needing a lead service line replacement. The website and fact sheets are available in English, Spanish and Portuguese. The City of Newark received Sustainable Jersey certification points for their extensive lead service line replacement as an Innovative Project action and was one of the first municipalities to earn certification points for their education and free water testing program under the new Sustainable Jersey action: Removing Lead in Drinking Water. This action is part of the newly established Sustainable Jersey Gold Star Standard in Water. The Gold Star Standard in Water identifies specific actions and levels of performance for municipalities to achieve improvements in water quality, quantity and use. Bronze or silver certified municipalities can earn a Gold Star in Water if they are approved for implementing a specific combination the certification program actions.

Hawthorne Borough's Gateway to the Passaic River Project (Passaic County)

Hawthorne Borough's Gateway to the Passaic River Project (Passaic County)

Residents of the Borough of Hawthorne and Passaic County are enjoying enhanced access to the Passaic River thanks to the Gateway to the Passaic River project implemented by the Hawthorne Environmental Commission and the Hawthorne Green Team. The walkway provides access to fishing and recreational activities such as kayaking, canoeing and boating. Two rain gardens, designed with input from Rutgers University's Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program, were installed to capture storm water flow from the parking lot. The gardens filter the water before it reaches the river, removing potential pollutants. Bird nesting boxes and native plants for pollinators were also added. The project was supported in part by a $20,000 Sustainable Jersey Grant funded by the PSEG Foundation and $1,500 from an Open Space Stewardship grant from the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions. Rayna Laiosa, who chairs the Hawthorne Environmental Commission/Green Team and serves as a Borough Councilwoman, said, "I believe we've created a connection to and appreciation of this unique riverside ecosystem for the residents of Hawthorne, now and for future generations." She added, "We're working to promote Hawthorne's waterfront open space while stressing the importance of using native plants to New Jersey and increasing Hawthorne's biodiversity." In Fall 2020, the Environmental Commission planted additional swamp milkweed in the woody area along the walking trail to the Passaic River. The work is ongoing as the Hawthorne Environmental Commission conducted a Spring Clean Up at the Gateway on March 20, 2021. Recently, the Environmental Commission partnered with the Hawthorne Shade Tree Commission for tree planting in May 2021 by adding dogwoods, red maples, sycamore, sweet gum and pin oak to the Gateway area surrounding the rain gardens. Watch the video of the grand opening of the project: Part One and Part Two. The Borough of Hawthorne is Sustainable Jersey certified at the silver-level. Pictured in the photo by Jessica Ellis are Mayor Richard S. Goldberg and Rayna Laiosa, Hawthorne Environmental Commission/Green Team.

Mercer County Sustainability Coalition Hosts #GreeningTogether Events for Earth Week

Energy Conservation the Focus for Mendham Township Elementary School Green Day (Morris County)

Green teams throughout Mercer County organized a successful Earth Week 2021 celebration. The Mercer County Sustainability Coalition (MCSC) held a week-long Greening Together event in April that served up virtual activities, panel discussions, art education and socially distanced outdoor activities each day. "Greening Together" featured experts from climate, to compost, to solar power and everything in-between. Daily topics included: Love Your Park; Climate Deep Dive; Journey to Zero Waste; Trenton Talks Transportation; Water Wednesday; Ultimate Green Kahoot (a fun on-line game); Green Infrastructure and Arbor Day webinars and plantings. "Our local green teams, working together with partners like The Watershed Institute and the Rider University Eco-Reps, were able to provide a rich array of Earth Week experiences that no single green team could have launched. 'Greening Together' provided an opportunity for residents to learn from local environmental stewards, green teams and experts about best practices for protecting our natural resources and living sustainably," explained Joann Held, a Hopewell Valley Green Team member. "We're thrilled that we had enough interest and help to make this event happen. We know time and resources are limited so providing a free event with multiple ways to engage felt like the most equitable way to celebrate this year. We have seen how important it is to listen to science and experts on a global level. We can make real contributions by acting locally--these local changes add up to big benefits. It is time we start taking climate action on the local scale seriously," said Annette Loveless, the chair of the Lawrence Township Environmental Resources and Green Advisory Committee. There are ten Sustainable Jersey Regional Hubs, like the MCSC, located across the state. To learn more, visit the MCSC Facebook page and MCSC Resources Page.

Energy Efficiency Programs Transition Information

New Jersey Clean Energy Program logo

Information on New Jersey's Energy Efficiency Programs Transition is now live on New Jersey's Clean Energy Program™ (NJCEP) website. While NJCEP will continue to offer some energy efficiency programs, all the investor-owned gas and electric utility companies will now also offer energy efficiency programs directly to their customers. Please visit for information and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), and join the Energy Efficiency Listserv for additional details and updates.

Sustainability Heroes

March: Michael Miller, Supervisor of Science, Raritan High School (Monmouth County) April: Susan Lazarchick, Chair, Township of Hamilton Green Team (Atlantic County) May: Carol Peterson, Sustainable Oakland Green Team (Bergen County)

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