Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 42
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
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Sustainable Princeton Expands its Purview With Projects Focused on Greening the Town

Dilshanie Perera

With a quarter of its funding in place for the upcoming year, Sustainable Princeton is continuing to expand its programs and spur innovation regarding energy savings and sustainability. Sustainability Coordinator Diane Landis presented an update at last week’s Borough meeting, where Council approved providing the organization with $7,500 to assist in its 2011 operations.

Supported by the Borough, Township, and a local foundation, Sustainable Princeton is a community organization focused on promoting greater environmental, social, and economic health in both municipalities. They work with the municipal governments, schools, businesses and non-profit organizations, and residents to inspire greener practices.

While still waiting to hear the decision of Township Committee’s closed session talks, the organization will likely receive $7,500 from that municipality as well, with the foundation to match the Borough and Township’s contributions.

Ms. Landis cited the “support of both the Township and Borough Mayors from day one” and that of the “Township and Borough Administrators and the leadership of Lee Solow at the Regional Planning Board of Princeton” as crucial to the existence and operations of the organization.

Even beyond municipal action, “there’s a real momentum in town,” Ms. Landis acknowledged.

Finding new ways to reduce the waste stream is part of Sustainable Princeton’s purview. “We’ve put a lot of effort into composting in different ways,” Ms. Landis explained.

Fifty free leaf corrals were given out to interested residents in the Borough and Township to encourage leaf composting this fall. Keeping leaves on one’s property tends to reduce the amount of debris that gets into the stormwater system, thereby improving stormwater management.

“We’re also making compost bins out of leftover pallets from a school renovation years ago,” Ms. Landis said. One volunteer organizer, who is also a LEED-certified architect, created the design and put together a how-to kit. Compost bins were built at Littlebrook Elementary School; Johnson Park, where they are also engaging in food waste composting out of their cafeteria; and are getting started in the other primary schools in town.

The other composting effort is largely organized by the Public Works Department in the Township. “This will be potentially the first curbside food waste pickup in New Jersey,” said Ms. Landis with obvious excitement. With plans to launch the program in approximately a month, 500 homes in Princeton Township will participate in this pilot project.

Residents will receive special bins to utilize in their kitchens, into which all kinds of food waste, including vegetable refuse, meats, and pizza boxes, can be placed. “It has great potential to lower your curbside trash pickup,” Ms. Landis observed.

With the pro bono assistance of lawyer Jared M. Whitt, Sustainable Princeton is also applying for 501(c)3 status, which would allow them to apply for more grants as a formal non-profit organization.

Other projects and initiatives include monthly residential meetings, and informational and educational videos made in partnership with Princeton Community Television.

“I love the idea of drawing on the talent in town...there is a lot of it,” Ms. Landis said of the people featured in the videos, which include an instructional guide to making one’s own green cleaning products with household materials, a feature on the Princeton Farmer’s Market, information about leaf composting, and more.

Visit for more information.

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