SOEC, Green Team awarded sustainability grant

Photo Courtesy of Walter Clarke
The South Orange Green Team and Environmental Commission are awarded a sustainability grant. From Left are Sustainable Jersey Executive Director Randall Solomon, PSEG Foundation Chairman Rick Thigpen, South Orange Trustee Walter Clarke and Sustainable Jersey board Chairwoman Anne-Marie Peracchio.

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — The South Orange Green Team and the Environmental Commission were awarded a $2,000 Sustainable Jersey capacity-building grant funded by the PSEG Foundation. Four $20,000 grants, seven $10,000 grants and 25 $2,000 grants were distributed to municipalities in 15 New Jersey counties.

The grant awards will fund a range of projects including green infrastructure, park restoration, single-use plastic reduction campaigns, rain gardens, environmental resource inventories, creative placemaking, Green Team capacity building and more.

The South Orange Green Team and Environmental Commission will collaborate with Maplewood and Millburn to pilot the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Food Too Good to Waste” toolkit, which provides behavior change and outreach tools designed to assist individuals and households in implementing strategies to reduce food waste in homes.

“South Orange aspires to lead the way in sustainability initiatives and this food waste initiative will have us once again joining forces with our neighbors in Maplewood and Millburn — so three towns will benefit, not just one! According to Paul Hawken’s book, ‘Drawdown,’ making less food waste is the third most effective action that can be taken to slow climate change,” village President Sheena Collum said in a press release. “In fact, making less waste in the first place is far more effective than composting. I’m proud of our green teams for leading the way and excited for them to spread this message to the wider community. I think we can be a positive model for other communities in the state on this very important issue.”

“From climate change, to water, waste and equity issues, so many of the big sustainability concerns are reaching a crisis point. This investment in sustainability projects will have lasting benefits to New Jersey,” Sustainable Jersey Executive Director Randall Solomon said in the release. “We’re seeing exciting results from previous grant projects, and we are looking forward to similarly productive, innovative progress from the current group of awardees.”

The PSEG Foundation has contributed $1.9 million in funding to the Sustainable Jersey grants program for municipalities and schools.

“Supporting local municipalities in their efforts to build sustainability programs puts resources where they’re needed and aren’t always available, and PSEG is proud to do so,” PSEG Foundation President Barb Short said. “Sustainable Jersey helps bring real change and has a lasting impact to neighborhoods throughout New Jersey.”

Proposals were evaluated by an independent Blue-Ribbon Selection Committee. The Sustainable Jersey grants are intended to help municipalities make progress toward a sustainable future in general, and specifically toward Sustainable Jersey certification. Nearly 90 percent of the New Jersey population lives in a registered or certified Sustainable Jersey community. Currently 450 municipalities, or 80 percent of New Jersey municipalities, are registered with Sustainable Jersey.