The Garden Club of LBI’s Environmental Chair, Mary Wilding, updates members each month on such important topics as seismic testing, fracking, plastic pollution, sea-level changes, and other threats to our environment.
Mary goes to great lengths to raise our awareness of threats to the environment, even becoming a “Bag Lady,” which means donning a suit of plastic bags–made from the exact number each of us discards every year. Mary also solicits volunteers for local clean-up projects that keep our island safe and beautiful.
A Message from Mary: During this extraordinary time, please be smart, safe and well. Our hearts go out to all who are struggling and have suffered loss. Hopefully the coronavirus will become a challenge we all faced together and life will return to a better “old normal” and perhaps we will gain wisdom from this trying time. The decrease in carbon emissions due to decreased travel, stalled economies, cities locked down, businesses closed and people confined to their homes resulted in major recorded decreases. While the extreme reduction in activity is untenable for an extended period, it does demonstrate the feasibility of making a large difference in carbon emissions and an impact on climate change. Hopefully the “new normal” may be better if we are all willing to make changes and our leaders support industries who move to environmentally sound practices.
Continuing to advocate for the single use plastic bags is a priority. During the summer of 2018, The Garden Club of Long Beach Island sponsored 5 screenings of the film “A Plastic Ocean” which provided information on the causes and graphic images of the consequences of plastic pollution in our oceans.
Mary Wilding and Kyle Gronostajski, Executive Director of the Alliance for a Living Ocean, as The Bag Monster
The screenings were part of the ongoing effort to encourage Long Beach Island communities to ban single-use plastic bags and to bring home the message to visitors and residents of the damage being done to the marine environment, all its inhabitants and the impact of microplastics. Switching to reusable cloth or non-woven polypropylene bags is one step toward reducing plastic pollution in the oceans,waterways and on the land. Currently three of the six boroughs on Long Beach Island and Stafford Township on the mainland have passed a ban on single-use plastic bags. Stafford has temporarily reinstated the use of single-use plastic bags during the coronavirus crisis.
In September 2018, Senator Bob Smith, Chair of the N.J. Senate Environmental Committee introduced the strongest statewide ban on plastic products in our nation. Sen. Linda R. Greenstein co-sponsored the bill (S2776) which would ban merchants in the state from using most single-use plastic bags, straws and plastic foam food packaging. The bill was amended to read single-use plastic bags, single-use carryout paper bags and polystyrene foam food products and limiting single-use plastic straws. It passed in the New Jersey Senate, moved to the Assembly Environmental Committee on March 5, 2020 and must be voted upon by the Assembly before it goes to Governor Murphy for signature. Because of the coronavirus this bill is not expected to be acted upon until October 2020.
Continuing to advocate for island wide and a statewide ban are primary goals of the Environmental Committee for 2020, as is providing information on reducing our plastic consumption, especially other single-use plastics such as straws, utensils, bottles, cups, containers etc. Since 80% of the plastic debris in the ocean comes from the land, there are actions to reduce the pollution. The volume of single-use items is staggering. Collins Dictionary made “single-use” the word of the year! Generating community support to address plastic producers and major corporations to take action and to support those that have, is the another objective. It is important that we all take our reusable bags for groceries etc. The major grocery chains do allow customers to pack their own groceries but request you keep your reusable bags in the cart or use the slide-out tray at the end of the conveyor belt to pack the groceries. Clerks are not to touch bags brought in to the store. Sanitizing the reusable bags should be done as usual.
Seismic Blasting/Oil Exploration
The issue of seismic blasting and industrialization of the Atlantic Ocean is another area of great concern. The Environmental Committee intends to actively advocate against seismic blasting and industrialization. With seismic airgun blasting, compressed air is fired into the seabed every 10 or 20 seconds for weeks or months at a time in an effort to find oil and gas formations. The intensity of the blasts can injure or disturb and increase the risk of calves being separated from their mothers for more than 138,000 dolphins and whales, including the North Atlantic right whale. The threat of disrupting important fisheries is also a concern.
There are three bills pending which address protections from oil and gas drilling: H.R.1146, Arctic Cultural & Coastal Plain Protection Act, to restore protection from oil and gas drilling for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an ecologically important coastal plain and home of the Native Gwich’in people. H.R. 205, Protecting & Securing Florida’s Coastline Act of 2019, and H.R. 1941, Coastal & Marine Economies Protection Act, would protect the nation’s offshore waters to new drilling, including the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the eastern Gulf of Mexico near Florida. These bills would also protect 50 National Coastal Parks as well as communities, businesses and wildlife along the coastlines. All 3 bills have passed in the House, have been sent to the Senate where they have been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources. We continue to follow the status of the bills and advocate for their passage.
The Green New Deal
“Green New Deal has been presented in the House and Senate and its policies would address climate change and inequity and could accomplish three things: 1)Tackle the climate crisis and toxic pollution, 2)Create good, high-paying jobs and 3)Fight racial, economic and gender inequity. Sierra Club has five big ideas for a Green New Deal, explaining how it could revitalize our infrastructure, retrofit our buildings, revive clean manufacturing, and restore our ecosystems. If you would like to review their article and consider asking our members of Congress to support resolutions calling for a Green New Deal, click on the following website to learn more. (https://www.sierraclub.org/articles/2019/01/five-big-ideas-for-green-new-deal) If you want to add your support there will also be a website listed you can access (https://act.sierraclub.org/actions/National?actionId=AR0140538&id=7010Z000001qreEQAQ&data=ce8ea67170db396344d2de2322b1521cc9132dc6a4a23395b11c488c1e419a7aff8e347b1259c2d8ddafa895f257de84&utm_medium=email&utm_source=sierraclub&utm_campaign=internationalclimate.”
NEW JERSEY DRAFT ENERGY MASTER PLAN
SPOTTED LANTERNFLY – WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The coronavirus has put us all on hold with regard to community events. The annual spring beach sweep, scheduled for April 25, sponsored by Clean Ocean Action and coordinated by the Alliance for a Living Ocean (ALO) on Long Beach Island has been cancelled as a community event with groups of volunteers participating. However, as long as LBI beaches continue to be open, and individuals practice safe distancing, ALO and the Garden Club suggest we continue to take walks on our beaches as individuals or with family members with whom we are living with and collect plastic debris.
The following events had been scheduled, but have been cancelled due to covid:
5/3/20 Explore Our Shore
7/8/20 Barnegat Bay Day (date tentative)
8/20 Hooked on Fishing
Shellabration – October 19, 2019
Our Garden Club was a sponsor for the event and members Judy Bouton, Bette Dellatorre, Julie Eller, Marge and Sal Girardo, Nancy Hampson, Teresa Hagan, Gillian Rozicer, Ginny Scarlatelli, Camille Sharp, Marilyn Upton and Mary Wilding manned a booth. The Garden Club provided information on 3 main topics: The Monarch Butterfly which included information on milkweed plus packets of seeds for planting. Second was facts regarding Plastic Pollution highlighted by an appearance of the Plastic Bag Monster(Mary Wilding) and a sorting activity with visitors choosing which item was recyclable and which was not. And third, identification and reporting instructions on the spotted lanternfly, a harmful pest which has now moved into New Jersey(See above for details)