Harrison Township’s Green Team earns bronze status, not enough for them

The Green Team is looking for individuals and organizations to get involved and help move Harrison Township down a more sustainable path

The phrase “going green” is not new.

Countless businesses, big and small, are considering further actions to put their business on a more environmentally-friendly path.

According to conserve-energy-future.com, a site that collects and streamlines articles focused on sustainability, Bank of America has decreased paper usage by 32 percent in five years while technology companies such as Dell have incorporated more efficient ways to dispose of electronic equipment no longer in use.

While businesses work to turn a green leaf, many individuals strive to leave a smaller carbon footprint. However, people can do more than recycle and turn the lights off when leaving the room.

Communities can work together on a plethora of green initiatives.

Harrison Township’s Green Team, a group comprised of appointed township Environmental Commission volunteers, is in its second year of operation and looking to welcome any person or organization in the township who wants to join in making Harrison Township more environmentally conscious.

“We want people to be part of the conversation,” said Michael Gonserkevis, a Green Team board member, as he explained the group is always looking to grow.

In 2017, the nonprofit Sustainable Jersey awarded the township’s Green Team with a bronze certification. This nonprofit provides tools, training and financial incentives to support communities in pursuit of sustainability programs. There are 450 participating communities in the state, with 200 certified.

Sustainable Jersey offers municipalities a list of potential actions to engage in as a community to earn the certification. All completed actions earn the municipality points, which in turn add up to a bronze, silver or gold star certification status.

The Green Team earned 150 points to receive the bronze certification. By the end of 2018, the team wants silver.

“Any group can send a representative to get a feel for what we are talking about,” Gonserkevis said, referring to an open invitation to Green Team meetings that are held on the first Wednesday of each month.

Obtaining silver status is a tall order, as the list of actions is lengthy and involved; however, the group knows with community support, it is doable.

For example, one action available is the reusable bag education program that enables municipalities to be recognized for educating residents and businesses about the positive aspects of reducing the use of single-use shopping bags. Sustainable Jersey suggests some possible ways to implement this practice are to facilitate voluntary bag bans and/or establishing surcharges for the use of disposable bags. The idea is intended to assist municipalities in the search of creative ways to move down a more sustainable path and involve community businesses in sustainable practices.

To reach silver status, the Green Team must continue with its work in the community; some of its past work includes implementing solar panels on municipal buildings and coordinating events such as paper shredding events, one of which will be held on April 21.

The Green Team, and by extension the community of Harrison Township, must record 350 points by the end of the year. The team currently holds 95 as some points do not renew at the new year.

The overall message: help make Harrison Township Green.

For more information about Sustainable Jersey, visit www.sustanablejersey.com.

The Green Team meets at 7 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month in the Harrison Township municipal building.