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Composter Awarded to Garden Club President

Over 230 residents signed the Green Challenge Pledge.


The Chatham Borough Green Initiatives Committee awarded a backyard composter to Mary Keselica, the president of the Town and Country Garden Club.

Keselica is one of 232 borough residents to took the Green Challenge Pledge, a promise to live sustainably, at the .

The committee's goal was to sign up at least 225 residents, or 2.5 percent of the borough's population, to the pledge, with the chance to win the composter. The names were placed in a flower vase and Keselica's name was drawn at the E-Carnival at on April 28.

Keselica said she was "excited" at winning the composter. "It will make great compost for my gardens, including my home rain garden," she said.

Volunteers from the Town and Country Garden Club maintain the downtown planters along Main Street.

According to Cindy Steffens, the chair of the Green Initiatives Committee, the Green Initatives Pledge helps the borough earn points for Sustainable Jersey by getting residents to live greener lives in the following ways:

Recycle everything that can be recycled. A total of 158 residents pledged to separate recycling from garbage.

Another 112 promised to recycle ink cartridges, which are made of plastic and take between 450 and 1,000 years to decompose, Steffens said. Ink can leak from the cartridges and damage the environment. Cartridges can be recycled at office supply stores, such as Staples and Office Depot.

Also, 116 residents promised to recycle electronics. Electronic equipment has toxic chemicals, such as lead, mercury, cadmium and bromated flame retardant, which can leech into soil, water and air when incinerated or disposed of in landfills.   

Save energy. A total of 122 residents pledged to turn off lights or computers when not in use; 130 pledged to adjust their thermostats, higher in summer and lower in winter, to conserve gas and electricity; and 102 pledged to buy Energy Star appliances when available.  

Adjusting the thermostat can make a big difference. Reducing the temperature by two degrees in winter can save 50 gallons of fuel, up to $150 from your budget, and prevent 900 lbs. of carbon emissions each year. Together, the 130 residents will collectively save 6,500 gallons of fuel, up to $19,500, and prevent 11,700 lbs. of carbon emissions.

Raising the thermostat by two degrees in summer saves $50 and prevents 460 lbs. of CO2 emissions. A total of 130 residents will collectively save $6,500 and prevent 59,800 lbs. of CO2 emissions per year.

Turning off lights and computers when not in use is an easy way to help the environment. The average consumer generates an estimated 12.4 tons of CO2 emissions per year, with 24 percent generated by lighting. The 122 residents who pledged to turn off lights and computers when not in use will reduce their CO2 emissions from light by an estimated 10 percent, together preventing 36 tons of emissions per year.

Be idle free. and began their "Turn the Key, Be Idle Free" program in 2007, and it's making a difference. At Fishawack, 122 residents pledged to turn off their engines when parked anywhere for over 30 seconds. Together, they will prevent five tons of CO2 emissions per year.  

Those canvas bags serve an environmental purpose. Plastic bags are made from petroleum and natural gas, can take over 1,000 years to decompose and kill some 100,000 marine animals per year, including whales, seals and turtles. The Green Initiatives Committee encourages everyone to keep cloth bags in their cars and use them for all shopping, not just grocery shopping. A total of 144 residents pledged to use reusable bags instead of plastic. Together, they will keep an estimated 19,768 plastic bags out of landfills per year.    

Recharge the stormwater. At the 2011 Fishawack Festival, 15 residents of Chatham Borouogh pledged to install rain gardens in their home. Steffens said those 15 gardens can recharge about 355,000 gallons of rain water each year.

“We hope that the demonstration rain garden that was just installed at Municipal Park will encourage people to put in rain gardens,” Steffens said. “If 40 people install rain gardens, we could recharge 1,000,000 gallons of rainwater per year."

Another 20 people pledged to install smart irrigation fixtures. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates Americans use over 7 billion gallons of water outdoors daily, mostly for landscape irrigation, and up to 50 percent of that amount is due to overwatering because of inefficient methods and technologies. 

WaterSense is the EPA label for water that is analogous to EnergyStar for energy. “Smart” WaterSense controllers use computer technology to adapt the amount and frequency of watering to the plants, weather conditions, and soil moisture at the site. These drip and micro-spray controllers use 35 to 50 percent less water than traditional irrigation by avoiding overwatering.

A rain garden manual is available online at the New Jersey Native Plant Society website.


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