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Takeaways from the West Orange Environmental Commission Earth Hour Event

WESTORANGE, NJ – The West Orange Environmental Commission’s annual Earth Hour event was held at Thomas Edison National Historical Park on March 15 and featured township officials, West Orange students, and information on upcoming opportunities for community involvement.

This year’s Earth Hour will take place on March 25 from 8:30 – 9:30 pm and organizers are claiming that the global “lights off” movement is more important than ever. Now in its 16th year, Earth Hour participants switch off their lights from 8:30 – 9:30 pm to symbolically support planet Earth and raise awareness for the environmental issues affecting it. The Earth is predicted to breach the 1.5°C global temperature increase limit set by the Paris Climate Agreement by 2030, and the next seven years may well determine the future world climate. People need to take the need to recoup nature’s losses and biodiversity seriously.

  • Environmental Commission chairperson Mike Brick welcomed guests and participants, noting that studies have shown that the amount of gases found in arctic ice has increased dramatically.
  • TENHP Superintendent Tom Ross discussed the importance of land preservation in the country’s national parks. “We need to do our best to protect these resources for future generations,” he stated.
  • Mayor Susan McCartney shared that the township has received grant money from Sustainable Jersey to create bio-retention systems at Liberty, Roosevelt, Washington, Redwood and Kelly.  Another Second Chance toy pickup will occur in May, date TBD. Discussions are underway to develop solar carports in town, as well as new ways to recycle, including composting. In the meantime, residents can drop toys to the trailer at the recycling center.
  • Hazel student Penny Martin talked about keeping noise down in neighborhoods.
  • Health Director Mike Fonzino presented a PowerPoint on tackling litter. According to Clean NJ, cigarette butts, plastic bottles, food wrappers, bottle caps, plastic bags, straws, Styrofoam containers, aluminum cans, glass bottles, pet waste, and glitter free wrapping are at the top, with all or most controllable by community members.
  •  New full-time Forester Walter Kipp introduced himself and explained how the township is addressing oak tree root flares and removing ash trees devastated by the Emerald Ash Borer. Several trees will be planted in the Valley.
  • Environmental Commissioner Cyndy Walsh Rintzler discussed the township grant to clean up the Rahway River at Woodland Ave. and Pleasant Valley Way, scheduled for April 2. Volunteers needed.
  • Master Gardener Sharee Harrison invited the community to get involved with the HUUB, an environmental justice resource in Orange that also hopes to beautify areas like the Fairy Trail and introduce the community to the beauty of the local area.
  • Sara Reper, a student at Montclair State University, shared  about New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program’s NJ Comfort Partners, which provides energy-saving measures for those eligible in the community.
  • West Orange High School Technology teacher Catherine Gardener and students Lorenzo, Mike, and Renaldo reviewed the components of their invention, a solar rechargeable car battery that will enable a vehicle to travel 100 miles.
  • The Nikhil Badlani Foundation Youth Advisory Board told attendees that the Department of Transportation will be conducting a Walkability Assessment.
  • Township councilperson Michelle Casalino shared the new township app and newest environmental commissioner Joe Berwind was introduced.

See photos from the WOEC Earth Hour Event HERE.

Cynthia Cumming
March 22, 2023