Environmental

Environmental Chair 2021-2022: Mary Wilding.
The Environmental Committee updates members each month on important topics such as plastic pollution, climate change, local and national environmental issues, seismic testing and other issues related to our environment. The committee goes to great lengths to raise members awareness of threats to the environment as well as stewardship opportunities. Volunteers are solicited year round for local clean-up projects that keep our island safe and beautiful.  Volunteers  provide environmental information at community events and participate in a variety of projects including outreach on state mandates including banning straws except on request and distributing painted clam shells with a nautical theme and an environmental message. 

Beach Sweep April 2022

Although there was very little debris on the beach, Saturday, April 9, for Clean Ocean Action’s 33rd Beach Sweep, it was coordinated locally by Alliance Of a Living Ocean.  Tracy Houtsma, Leslie Karvan, Barbara Reynolds and I collected debris at  the beach entrance at 9th Street in Ship Bottom and also “swept” the beach beyond.  Only small pieces of largely plastic debris were exposed by the change  in wind direction on the beach. But a considerable amount of larger debris had accumulated at the entrance.  Gillian Rozicer tallied debris collected on North Beach and commented on the amount of  building materials present.  It was wonderful  to see the clean-swept white beach but I was told the debris is there, covered by sand driven by the prevailing winds.  It was surprising to find only 4 plastic bottles, BUT lots of bottle caps and only 4 glass bottles.  Although masks and disposable gloves seem to frequently be littering parking lots and roadway shoulders, we only found 3 of each.  It was great to only find 8 balloons or pieces of balloons.  “Plastic pieces” category was the high count winner.

The categories are:  1)PLASTIC,   2)FOAM PLASTIC,  3)PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT,  4)BALLOONS & RUBBER,  5)METAL,  6)PAPER,  7)CLOTH,  8)WOOD, and 9)GLASS.  The variety of plastic items is mind boggling.  To give you some idea, the items in the PLASTIC category included  Food, Candy Wrapper/Bags, Store/Shopping Bags, Bottle Caps/Lids  Cigarettes,  Fishing,  Food Takeout , Health/Hygiene Products, Miscellaneous (including Plastic Pieces.)   77.6% of items collected fell into these PLASTICS categories and 5.4%  into the FOAM PLASTIC  category for a total of 83% of all the debris found.

To get a tally, we emptied our buckets outside at “How Ya Brewin” and customers stopped and commented on the debris. Some said they would bring a bag to the beach this summer to carry on the ever present beach clean up.  Seeing  how a relatively short search on a day when the beach was unusually clean resulted in collecting a real mess and that mess was a miniscule fraction of what  exists in the marine environment. Hopefully more folks will stop and pick up debris each time they walk on the beach or the bay.  Together, we can make a difference.

Noteworthy Recycling News September 2021

Clean aluminum foil is now recyclable.

We can now throw aluminum foil that is clean into our single stream recycling bins for pickup. This new addition also includes clean foil take-out containers and pans.  We can also now recycle chipboard used in containers for cereal boxes, baking mixes, pasta, toilet paper and paper towel rolls etc.  In addition, you should leave bottle caps on #1, #2, and #5 plastic or glass containers.

If you would like a visual representation, Just click on the link:  http://www.co.ocean.nj.us/OC/SolidWaste/frmRegContentSW.aspx?ID=e74c1d05-011a-4c24-b481-0fd7cab6c1f0

Buddy Bench Project September 2021

Members of the Environmental Committee ,with chair Mary Wilding seated, with their collection of lids and caps for the “Buddy Bench” project.

Garden Club members have been collecting lids and caps for some time. Eight  very large bags containing lids and caps  have been given to the Ethel Jacobsen Elementary School where they will be sorted and used to create a “Buddy Bench” for their playground. Sarah Escarey, the teacher in charge of the project, is enthusiastic about having her students use discarded plastics, that would have ended up in a landfill, for a hands-on project to create a useful item. The lesson that, together we can take actions that make a difference, is  such a critical one.

 Reducing Plastic Pollution

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. Senator Linda R. Greenstein co-sponsored the bill (S2776).  This bill bans most single-use plastic bags, and it also includes single-use carryout paper bags and polystyrene foam food products. The bill also limits single-use plastic straws.   The bill, S2776, was signed into law on November 4, 2020 with a grace period of 18 months, or until May 4, 2022 with the exception of plastic straws.  Beginning November 4, 2021, food service businesses can only provide a single-use plastic straw to a customer upon request by the customer.  (NJ Department of Environment Protection) Committee members visited about 60 local restaurants and food- service businesses  to provide a copy of the regulation and an information sheet about the environmental impact on marine seabirds and animals from the 500 million straws used daily in our country  Many establishments were not aware of the new regulation and appreciated receiving this information. Committee members found some businesses had already switched to paper or compostable straws and eco-friendly single use products. This is a “win-win”  change as there are cost-savings  to businesses  and benefits to the environment.

Advocating  for the reduction of plastic pollution is a primary goal of the Environmental Committee.  The volume of single-use items is staggering. Collins Dictionary made “single-use” the word of the year!  As individuals, it is important for us to reduce our plastic consumption by using alternative materials, considering the necessity of a  purchase, following up-to-date  guidelines for recycling and helping  keep fellow citizens informed on environmental issues. The committee shares information about producers who are instituting and following more environmentally positive practices so that members can choose to support these businesses.  Beyond the local and state level, there is legislation pending on a national level. The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act of 2021  is designed to address the escalating national flood of plastic products. It also seeks to re-evaluate  waste and recycling management in the U.S.   The committee will monitor the progress of this bill.

Remember, we can take our reusable bags for a variety of purchases.  The major grocery chains have customers use their own bags and to pack them on the counter because the cashiers are not allowed to pack them.  Sanitizing the reusable bags should be done as usual.

Guest Barbara Reynolds as “Recycling Hero” and Mary Wilding at Garden Club Holiday Luncheon.

Industrialization of Our Oceans

 H.R. 1146: the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act  passed  in Congress. This bill restored protection to the Arctic Refuge’s Coastal Plain from the impact on the environment of oil and gas drilling.

Two additional bills were introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives regarding offshore drilling.  H.R. 205:  Protecting & Securing Florida’s Coastline Act of 2019, passed in the 116th Congress (2019-2020) but has not been re-introduced in the new Congress.  H.R. 1941:  Coastal & Marine Economies Protection Act, to protect the nation’s offshore waters to new drilling, including the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the eastern Gulf of Mexico near Florida and also protect 50 National Coastal Parks passed in the House of Representatives on 9/11/2019 as well as in the 116th congress.  It also has not been reintroduced in the new Congress.  While the bills have not passed, there are current efforts to push for a ban on offshore oil and gas leasing off the East Coast and other areas in the federal budget request that is being debated right now in the US Congress.

Industrialization of our ocean is taking place off the coast of New Jersey with the construction of wind turbines.  In 2015, NJ’s Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Management sold leases for roughly 160,000 acres from Ocean City north to Atlantic City . In 2018 an additional lease for 183,000 acres was sold for the area from Atlantic City to Barnegat Light.  Construction is expected to begin in 2023. Currently there is a proposed sale for an additional nearly 800,000 acres of offshore wind development on the Outer Continental Shelf off the New York/New Jersey coast.

The need to switch from fossil fuel to renewable energy sources is an ongoing goal in New Jersey. Our state has one of the most ambitious national goals of 35% of energy sold to be from renewable resources by 2025 and 50% by 2035.  Wind power addresses that goal. However,  there is  concern about expanding the area to be industrialized without having adequate information regarding the impact on the marine environment.  Efforts continue to advocate for comprehensive, coordinated studies to provide guidance.

Action Items

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

New Jersey is one of only 5 states that will require 50% of its electricity to come from renewable sources, such as solar power,  and offshore wind power by 2030.  On June 10, 2019 “the State of New Jersey released the Draft 2019 Energy Master Plan (EMP), which provides an initial blueprint for the total conversion of New Jersey’s energy profile to 100 percent clean energy by 2050, as directed by Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 28. The plan defines clean energy as carbon-neutral electricity generation and maximum electrification of the transportation and building sectors to meet or exceed the Global Warming Response Act greenhouse emissions reductions of 80 percent relative to 2006 levels by 2050. The Draft Energy Master Plan is a comprehensive roadmap toward achieving our goal of a 100 percent clean energy economy by 2050,” said Governor Murphy. “The strategies set forth in this draft plan will foster economic growth by creating thousands of jobs in New Jersey’s energy, building, and transportation sectors. Today’s draft plan is a critical step forward in reducing the effects of climate change and securing our state’s clean energy future for the benefit of all New Jerseyans and for generations to come.”  Seven strategies are outlined in the draft to put the plan into action.  Seehttps://www.insidernj.com/press-release/state-new-jersey-unveils-draft-2019-energy-master-plan/.
Efforts to support the movement toward renewable resources and away from fossil fuels, has included giving our members information about  programs that require the electric utility company to obtain 50 to 100% of their  power supply from renewable energy resources.  Some members have also requested local and state representatives to focus on increasing renewable energy and not supporting investments in the infrastructure and provision of fossil fuels.

SPOTTED LANTERN FLY – WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Spotted Lantern Fly
* This invasive flying insect has now been found to be present in all counties of New Jersey.
*  Spectacularly beautiful, but harmful to grapes, apple, cherry and peach trees and 70 ornamentals including lilac, maple and dogwood.
*  Harms plants by sucking and destroying sap at all its life stages.
*  Removing eggs from bark and other surfaces by scraping is the most effective preventative known at this time.  Wrapping tree trunks with sticky tape or netting and removing dead lantern flies is also helpful.
* Please check the website to see the lantern fly in each life stage:  
*  If you see the lanternfly, please report to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. Go to www.badbug.nj.gov click on the picture of the SLF, scroll down to the reporting tool and fill in the information.