Sustainable Monroe Township prepares for Earth Day

When it comes to saving the environment, even the smallest of actions can make a difference. From using canvas bags instead of single-use plastic bags to picking up litter in your neighborhood, the little things can go a long way.

This school of thought is present in the mind of Cait Jaconski, a senior at Williamstown High School, who is using her skill set to get as many people involved in celebrating Earth Day as possible. Jaconski has taken over the Sustainable Monroe Township social media pages and created a hashtag #7DaysOfEarthDay2019 to track people’s progress.

“Every day leading up to Earth Day I’ll have a challenge for each day,” she said. “People can accept the challenge and show how they did using the hashtag.”

For example, on April 17 the challenge is called “take a walk on the green side.” People will go outside and take a picture of how much trash they can collect. Residents then use the hashtag, and by using the search tools on social media, Jaconski – and other residents – can track how much trash has been picked up.

Under each post, Jaconski looks to include statistics and facts. For instance, did you know 9 billion tons of litter is found in the ocean, 29 percent of litter is made up of paper, a recyclable item, and 75 percent of people admitted to littering? These are eye-opening facts she plans to use to her advantage.

Jaconski is aware that even small changes have an impact. Her inspiration for the takeover comes from her aunt who lives in Woodstock, N.Y.

“One day we went food shopping together at a roadside stand. They wanted to give her a plastic bag, but she pulled out a fabric bag and put the apples in her bag,” Jaconski said. “It inspired me, she made a change even with one plastic bag.”

A future psychology major at Rowan College at Gloucester County, Jaconski plans to take environmental classes during her time in college. She plans to conduct more projects in the community, too.

Her goal with the social media takeover is to have as many people involved to make a change in the environment.

“I know there will still be trash, but I’ll be happier knowing I made a change and helped others make a change too,” she said.

The social media takeover isn’t the only thing Sustainable Monroe Township has planned for Earth Day. Chair of the organization, Patrick McDevitt, said they are taking part in a national effort called “Drive Electric for Earth Day.”

The event is scheduled for April 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Pfeiffer Center.

The event, which is presented by the Electric Auto Association, Plug in America and the Sierra Club, will spotlight electric cars and have them on display for folks to learn more about them.

“It’s important, again, to raise awareness because all of the car manufacturers have in production, or are planning to roll out, a lot of models of electric cars,” McDevitt said. “By most accounts, the switch-over is happening and these will become more commonplace in the future.”

McDevitt added the township is in the planning stages of installing an electric car charger at a municipal location in town. The state Department of Environmental Protection is awarding grants to towns that install charging stations.

Finally, Sustainable Monroe Township’s Community Garden will hold its opening day from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 20. This is the third season of community gardening. Residents are invited to come see the space and learn about the events planned for the season.

For more information on Sustainable Monroe Township, visit its Facebook page or visit a meeting on the third Thursday of each month on the second floor of town hall at 7 p.m.