Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 9
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
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Princeton Environmental Commission Confronting Challenge of Sustainability

Ellen Gilbert

During their monthly meeting last Wednesday, members of the Princeton Environmental Commission organized their goals for the year, and discussed leaf and food composting, as well as the Sustainable Princeton public meeting planned for March 11.

Borough Council member Barbara Trelstad, the Borough liaison to the Environmental Commission, said “I am personally convinced that we can save money in the Borough by revamping our leaf collection program.” She suggested encouraging residents to compost the leaves on their properties instead of putting them out in the street for collection, which creates stormwater runoff problems and obstructions to the public right of way.

The bagged leaf collection program in the Township may not necessarily work for the Borough, Ms. Trelstad noted, saying that she is looking to restructure the ordinance pertaining to leaf collection. She mentioned that she and fellow Council member Roger Martindell, as well as naturalist Steven Hiltner, had formed a study group to research the matter further.

Commission members remarked that the Borough spends about $230,000 on leaf collection every year.

Food waste composting was also discussed as a means by which Princeton could reduce costs in a sustainable manner. Having recently attended an event during which local businesses and restaurants learned about diverting food refuse from the waste stream, Commission Chair Wendy Kaczerski mentioned that schools, businesses, and municipalities could see a 20 percent reduction in current disposal costs by composting food.

While residential food waste composting programs are relatively rare — Ms. Kaczerski mentioned that in the U.S. only Ann Arbor and San Francisco have implemented such programs thus far — a pilot program in Princeton is something worth looking into, she said.

Many of the 2009 goals for the Environmental Commission, which deal with conserving energy, curbing emissions, educating the community, and other areas, were divvied up by the members during the meeting so that they could be pursued in depth during the year.

The Commission’s goals are aligned with the goals of Sustainable Princeton, of which Ms. Kaczerski and Envrionmental Commission member Matt Wasserman are also members. The organization’s steering committee will present a draft of the Sustainable Princeton Community Plan to the public on March 11 at 7 p.m. at the Suzanne Patterson Center to gather a second round of input.

Those who are interested in joining working groups focusing on municipal government, businesses, schools, and residents, respectively, will be able to sign up during the presentation. The groups have action plans addressing the six broad goals of Sustainable Princeton, which include greening the built environment, improving transportation, building a strong local green economy, and others.

In a release, Ms. Kaczerski said that the plan “addresses the entire Princeton community and asks everyone — residents, parents, teachers, local officials, business owners — to live their lives, perform their jobs, and operate their business and municipal operations through the lens of sustainability.”

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