MADISON, NJ—At least 50 people gathered Wednesday for a lesson on the environment at the Madison Green Forum, hosted at the Madison Community House on Cook Avenue.

Madison is home to a lot of environmental organizations for such a small town, said event organizer Trina Mallik of the Environmental Commission, many of which came together for Wednesday’s event.

This year’s green forum is the “first of its kind” hosted by the Environmental Commission, according to Mallik.

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Drew University hosted a similar, unaffiliated event in 2013, she said.

The forum was designed to connect residents with local experts and foster communication among the borough’s many environmental organizations, said Mallik.

Residents learned about the benefits of solar panels, how to plant pollinator gardens, use pesticide-free lawn care, get a home energy assessment, generate less trash, effectively recycle and compost.

“People can walk away with tangible things they can do tomorrow to lower their environmental footprint,” Mallik said of Wednesday’s event.

Experts were broken into three groups based on area of expertise—greening your yard, reducing your energy consumption and reducing your trash.

Each group gave a 25-minute presentation of its respective topic.

Posters made from recycled cardboard donated by Hilltop Bicycles and designed by Madison High School’s Project Aware team bordered the Community House gymnasium where the event was held, and offered informational tidbits about the environment and Madison’s role in reinforcing sustainable practices.

Mallik said she credited Madison’s focus on the environment to Mayor Conley, who participated in Wednesday’s event. During his opening remarks, he encouraged residents to take environmental matters into their own hands.

“The difference can be made in our own yards,” Conley said.

Here is a closer look at the experts who participated and the topics they covered:

Greening your yard

1. Emerald ash borer – Gene Cracovia

    Cracovia is affiliated with the Shade Tree Management Board and Friends of Madison Shade Trees.

2. Native plants – Judy Honohan

    Honohan is a former member of the Madison Environmental Commission.

3. Pesticides and bees – Ellen Kranefuss

    Kranefuss is part of the Sustainable Madison Advisory Committee and the Madison Environmental Commission and helped Mallik organize the green forum.

4. Pollinator gardens – Cathie Coultas

    Coultas is a member Shade Tree Management Board, Friends of Madison Shade Trees and the Madison Garden Club.

Reducing your energy consumption

1. Benefits of shade trees – Steve Miller

    Miller is part of the Shade Tree Management Board and Friends of Madison Shade Trees.

2. Solar energy – Frank Curran

    Curran owns the Madison-based energy company, Greenhouse Solar.

3. Home energy assessments – Natalie Tocci

    Tocci is affiliated with Ciel Power, which is currently offering $49 energy assessments for all Madison residents.

Reducing your trash

1. Composting and textile recycling – Claire Whitcomb

    Whitcomb is a member of the Madison Environmental Commission and helped Mallik organize the forum.

2. Ken O’Brien, head of Madison’s Department of Public Works.