To the Editor:
This April 22 is the 46th Earth Day! It all began in 1970 when millions of people called for environmental reforms resulting in the introduction of recycling, keeping plastics, glass, and paper from our landfills for reuse and recycling.
Where is Princeton almost 50 years later?
As the first town in New Jersey to offer curbside food waste pick up, we have moved beyond traditional recycling and created a model program that other towns are copying and adopting. In its first five years, the Municipality’s Curbside Organics Program diverted more than 500 tons of organic matter from the landfill, turning it into beautiful soil.
Princeton residents and retailers have also recycled almost 5 million plastic bags since last year through the ABC’s Recycling Campaign, diverting some 7 tons of plastics from the landfill. The ABC’s is a joint effort between Sustainable Princeton, the Princeton Merchants Association, The Municipality of Princeton, and McCaffrey’s grocery store.
Thanks to the advent of recycling and programs like those mentioned above, we estimate that Princeton now either composts or recycles approximately half of what we would have sent to the landfill on the first Earth Day in 1970.
Where do we go from here? To answer that question, Sustainable Princeton has formed The Zero Waste Working Group comprised of local restaurant owners, retailers, entrepreneurs, and community leaders.
With your help, the working group looks forward to making measurable change between now and Earth Day 2017. We’ll begin by offering six ideas to get us all started toward a Zero Waste Princeton.
1. Commit to a zero waste mindset — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Compost.
2. Let it Go by hosting a Yard Sale on April 30th as part of the town wide Let It Go event. Sign up on the Princeton Public Library website.
3. Just say no to sending food waste to the landfill. Food scraps are a commodity to be turned back into soil. Residents can join the Curbside Organics Program by calling (609) 688-2566. Retailers can contact a number of compost facilities to pick up their food waste. And, those of us who compost in the back yard, should keep doing exactly what we are already doing!
4. Be Careful with Compostable Tableware — If you are in the Municipal Curbside Organics program, our current compost facility is unable to take compostable tableware such as cups and utensils. Keep putting food and uncoated paper waste in your organics bin — but please, while we’re working out details, direct anything else to recycling or trash. Be watching for more curbside composting information coming soon!
5. Watch for a How to Recycle Brochure to be published soon to help answer your questions about what goes in which recycle bin and where residents can take those hard to recycle items for recycling.
6. Stay tuned for updates about food waste compost options for Mercer County including AgriArk, a locally owned clean compost facility in Hopewell which is already turning food waste into fertilizer. Also, watch for a potential BioGas Facility in Trenton.
We look forward to working with you to reduce, reuse, and recycle to move our town closer to zero waste!
Executive Director, Sustainable Princeton