Home Burlington Twp. News Green Team planting a sustainable future for Burlington Township

Green Team planting a sustainable future for Burlington Township

Burlington Township’s Green Team is looking to get the community involved in their work.

The Burlington Township Green Team’s top priority is simple: letting the community know it exists.

“A lot of the stuff we’ve done is kind of behind the scenes,” member Terrance Huettl said.

With its upcoming initiatives, the Green Team is hoping to change that. On Saturday, April 22 at noon, the team will host a tree giveaway at Green Acres Park as a part of the 18th annual “Burlington Township Cleanup Day.” By making the giveaway a part of the day’s festivities, the goal is to spark an interest with residents who may be unfamiliar with the Green Team.

Approximately 500 saplings will be given away along with instructions on how to care for them. The Green Team has given away trees in the past, and the team’s chairperson, Rachelle Gizinski, said the hope is recipients go home and plant them in their backyard.

Despite working by and large behind the scenes in the community, Burlington Township’s Green Team holds a particular distinction, having achieved a Bronze Certification from Sustainable Jersey in 2010, 2013 and 2016. According to Sustainable Jersey’s actions and certifications statement, “municipalities that achieve the certification are considered by their peers, by state government and by the experts and civic organizations in New Jersey, to be among the leading municipalities.”

Once a town earns a certification from Sustainable Jersey, the nonprofit organization provides training and financial incentives to help communities implement green initiatives.

Huettl said Burlington Township was one of the first townships in the region to obtain bronze certification in 2010. Renewing the certification every three years takes months of work for the 10-person team that consists entirely of volunteers.

“We’re very proud of the achievement,” Huettl said. “We hope it has lasting positive effects on the township.”

Formed in 2009 by Burlington Township’s governing body, the team’s mission since the beginning has been to reduce waste and consumption of resources. In the past, the team has lobbied local leaders to get green ordinances passed, worked to control erosion in local parks and stopped sediment from washing into nearby creeks.

The team is working on collecting plastic bags. Once the team collects 500 pounds of bags, the team will take the materials and have them made into a park bench. Gizinski said the team’s plastic bag initiative has been eye-opening for those who did not know bags could be transformed into a bench and other materials.

Thus far, collecting 500 pounds of plastic bags has been easy for the team, and Ginzinski said by the time it is done, the team may even have enough material for two park benches.

Ginzinski said the initiative has made people stop and think about bags they would usually discard, and moments like that exemplify the work the Green Team is doing to make Burlington Township more sustainable. She said the team wants community members to pause and think not only about recycling materials, but about the impact of their everyday actions such as idling their cars.

Huettl said the hope is that after the team’s latest tree giveaway, new people will join who will bring fresh eyes to the team about what initiatives to work on next. Ginzinski said they want to expand their outreach into schools and get junior members appointed to the team.

“We want to think of the future for our children — not just for ourselves,” Gizinski said.

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