EAST ORANGE, NJ – It takes an extremely dedicated person to shift an entire school district towards better recycling habits, some may even call the task near-impossible.  

This past school year, Literacy Coach, Maria Johnson, has taken huge strides toward a litter-free school district. For her instrumental efforts, Johnson has received the New Jersey Clean Communities Council’s (NJCCC) “Clean Communities Environmental Student Exchange Award.”

Johnson led many of the Clean Communities initiatives happening over the course of the year in the East Orange School District, in addition to fulfilling her role as liaison between the school system and the NJCCC.  Students from grades K-12 participated in two playground cleanups, a school wide cleanup, the Young Environmental Ambassadors program, the Recycling Greywater project, and a “Take One, Leave One” plastic bag initiative.  

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“My goal is to educate community members about the importance of supporting a litter-free environment,” Johnson said, “I want to continue to educate my elementary students about the positive outcomes of litter abatement with the hope that in the near future, more community members will support the cause.”  

NJCCC is a comprehensive, statewide litter-abatement program that has served New Jersey residents and visitors for more than 25 years. Learn more at njclean.org.