SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Since 2011, the South Plainfield Green Team has been working to not only make the borough cleaner, but to also ensure that issues of sustainability are addressed long term. Currently, the Green Team, an all-volunteer sub-committee of the municipality’s Environmental Commission, is currently seeking residents to help carry out and expand upon its mission.

The Borough of South Plainfield is certified at the Bronze Level of Sustainable Jersey – a nonprofit organization that provides tools, training and financial incentives to support communities as they pursue sustainability programs – with both the Green Team and Environmental Commission playing a big role in maintaining its certified status. 

“Our role is to coordinate the efforts of public and private organizations in the Borough to create a community that is economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable,” said Alice Tempel, environmental specialist for the borough and a Green Team member.

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The Green Team’s efforts include but aren’t limited to creating a safer community, conserving tax dollars, assuring clean air and water, and improving working and living environments to build a community that is sustainable economically, environmentally and socially.

“Sustainability is a pretty broad term and is more than just environmental issues like conserving energy and water,” said Tempel. “It encompasses the social structure and economic well-being of the community.”

In the Borough of South Plainfield, the Green Team is charged with establishing no-idling zones and promoting the Cut It and Leave It (grass recycling) and paper shredding programs as well as the Companion Animal Management Plan, the Prescription Drug Safety Disposal Program, and the Clear the Drains/Storm Water Management initiatives, to name a few.

The Green Team also works to ensure that borough facilities are energy-efficient and that its vehicle fleet is fuel-efficient. Community outreach along with several of the ongoing efforts, such as those programs listed above all play a part of a cleaner, healthy living and contribute to the Mayor’s Wellness Committee’s ultimate goal.

“It’s actions the municipality, as a government, takes that encourage a greener, more sustainable community and improve conditions for our residents,” said Tempel, noting that aforementioned actions taken and achieved by the South Plainfield Green Team contributed to the municipality, in 2014, being named a Bronze-level member of Sustainable Jersey.

The non-profit Sustainable Jersey (www.sustainablejersey.com) supports community efforts to reduce waste, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and improve environmental equity, ‘empowering communities to build a better world for future generations.’ Points are points awarded for various programs and initiatives with certification valid for three years.

Currently, the South Plainfield Green Team is in the process of seeking to renew its certification, which expires in 2017.

“We are reviewing the current Sustainable Jersey standards, to see what we need to submit to document various programs.  Three years ago, for instance, we earned ten points for our Recycling Center,” said Tempel, adding, “We will get credit for the Recycling Center again if we submit the information about its creation and operation that Sustainable Jersey is looking for.”

Chaired by Robert Longo, the Green Team is currently comprised of an all-volunteer board that includes Tempel and Tom Walsh, along with fellow Environmental Commission member John Koelble, Borough Administrator Glenn Cullen, Superintendent of Public Works Len Miller and Councilman Jon Dean as well as associate members Robert Ackerman (planning board), Gino Leonardis (board of adjustment), Debbie Boyle (board of education), and residents John Lapinski and Marie White.

A resident for six years, Lapinski joined the Green Team a few months ago in effort to make a difference. On a professional front, Lapinski works with the Environmental Protection Agency conducting storm water research and feels his experience can benefit the community.

“I felt the Green Team was a good way for me to get involved and something that was in my wheelhouse,” said Lapinski, adding, “As a citizen volunteer, I am hoping to help the borough obtain its recertification and move the process along.”

The Green Team is currently seeking members to help continue its mission and achieve its goals. Volunteers are needed to help assist with initiatives, paperwork, community events, and more.

“We need people who have the time and the interests to go out and help us achieve out goals,” said Tempel. “It is a great opportunity for those who want to get involved with their community come and make a difference.”

“We are a volunteer-run group. We need members to help us achieve our goals,” added Walsh, a member of both the Green Team and Environmental Commission. “If everyone pitches in a little bit, it makes things easier, but we need people to put our plans into action.”

The South Plainfield Green Team typically meets every second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. in the conference room at borough hall. Please note, for May only, the meeting will be held on Thursday, May 11. Members of the community are welcomed and encouraged to attend. For additional information, contact Green Team Chairman Robert Longo at (908) 753-7004, ext. 106 or email longo@cornerstoneag.com.

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