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Ewing, NJ 08628

Earth Day 2021 – the Work Continues

On April 22nd, fifty -one years ago the country celebrated its first Earth Day.  This marked the beginning of the modern environmental movement with a raising of public awareness of the need to care for the state of the planet. 

2021 Stream CleanupCommunity members marked the anniversary on Saturday with a stream clean up at the Hollowbrook Community Center organized by the Ewing Green Team and The Watershed.  A plethora of volunteers came out to lend a hand including scouts, athletes, the Elks, TCNJ engineering students, volunteers from other Mercer County communities including Lawrence and Hopewell, neighbors, families, friends, AmeriCorps NJ Watershed Ambassadors, Ewing Councilman Kevin Baxter, as well as Green Team and Environmental Commission members. 

For two hours volunteers patrolled the stream banks and the stream proper behind and beyond the Community Center picking up all kinds of plastic and debris, including a large tent pulled from the waters, tires, chairs, and even parts of picnic tables.  The haul was weighed as bags and items were brought to a collection point.  “The total weight of the litter collected is pending but we can feel confident to say we did a TON of work yesterday,” said Green Team event organizer, Donna Morgan.  It was amazing what could be accomplished by dedicated citizens in such a short amount of time. 

It was a beautiful day for a cleanup, and we are grateful to all the community members who came out and gave of their time.  The Green Team works in coordination with the Township to reduce the amount of litter, improve recycling, and beautify our community through continuing community cleanups, and we hope members of the community will join in future events as well.  A cleaner town is healthier as well as litter usually finds its way to the watershed.

Unfortunately, each of us contributes to pollution of our rivers and groundwaters through our daily activities whether knowingly or unknowingly.  This “nonpoint source pollution” is the BIGGEST threat to many of our ponds, creeks, lakes, wells, streams, rivers, and groundwater of our watershed, and ultimately our bays and the ocean.  It threatens aquatic and marine life, recreational water activities, the fishing industry, tourism, and our precious drinking water resources. Ultimately, the cost becomes the burden of every New Jersey resident.

The good news is that simple changes in YOUR daily lifestyle can make a tremendous difference in the quality of New Jersey's water resources. Here are just a few ways from the NJ DEP that you can reduce nonpoint source pollution.

“LITTER: Place litter, including cigarette butts and fast-food containers, in trash receptacles. Never throw litter in streets or down storm drains. Recycle as much as possible.

FERTILIZERS: Fertilizers contain nitrates and phosphates that, in abundance, cause blooms of algae that can lead to fish kills. Avoid the overuse of fertilizers and do not apply them before a heavy rainfall.

PESTICIDES: Many household products made to exterminate pests also are toxic to humans, animals, aquatic organisms, and plants. Use alternatives whenever possible. If you do use a pesticide, follow the label directions carefully.

HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS PRODUCTS: Many common household products (paint thinners, moth balls, drain and oven cleaners, to name a few) contain toxic ingredients. When improperly used or discarded, these products are a threat to public health and the environment. Do not discard with the regular household trash. Use natural and less toxic alternatives whenever possible. Contact your County Solid Waste Management Office for information regarding household hazardous waste collection in your area.

MOTOR OIL: Used motor oil contains toxic chemicals that are harmful to animals, humans, and fish. Do not dump used motor oil down storm drains or on the ground. Recycle all used motor oil by taking it to a local public or private recycling center.

CAR WASHING: Wash your car only when necessary. Consider using a commercial car wash that recycles its wash water. Like fertilizers, many car detergents contain phosphate. If you wash your car at home, use a non-phosphate detergent.

PET WASTE: Animal wastes contain bacteria and viruses that can contaminate shellfish and cause the closing of bathing beaches. Pet owners should use newspaper, bags or scoopers to pick up after pets and dispose of wastes in the garbage or toilet.

SEPTIC SYSTEMS: An improperly working septic system can contaminate ground water and create public health problems. Avoid adding unnecessary grease, household hazardous products and solids to your septic system. Inspect your tank annually and pump it out every three to five years depending on its use.

BOAT DISCHARGES: Dumping boat sewage overboard introduces bacteria and viruses into the water. Boat owners should always use marine sanitation devices and pump-out facilities at marinas.”[1]

These suggestions are simple and easy to apply to your daily lifestyle. Making your commitment to change at least one habit can result in benefits that will be shared by all of us and add to the health and beauty of New Jersey's water resources and join Ewing Township and its Green Team at their next cleanup.   

The ShabakunkTRash

[1] https://www.nj.gov/dep/watershedrestoration/info.html

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