Changing the Landscape Project Team Shares Update on Key Accomplishments
To the Editor:
Climate change and its consequences began to wash right up to our doorsteps this summer when Mother Nature brought severe storms, tornados, and significant flooding to New Jersey, including the Princeton area. It made us all realize just how vital the responsible stewardship of our land and waters is to the future health of our town and its residents.
It also brought renewed energy and focus to our sustainable landscaping project, Changing the Landscape: Healthy Yards = Healthy People/Cambiando el Paisaje: Jardines Sanos = Gente Sana. Aimed at encouraging our community to adopt lawn care practices that protect the health of both landscape workers and the environment, this year-long project continues to make progress. Here are some of the things our steering committee accomplished over the summer:
Co-hosted a free workshop for professional landscapers interested in learning about gas-powered equipment’s adverse health and environmental impacts and how to transition to battery-powered options profitably.
Continued outreach and education to landscape workers, owners of landscape companies, and property owners.
Worked with the Princeton Council and the Princeton Environmental Commission to facilitate discussions with small, local landscaping company owners and crew about potential ordinance changes. Concerns voiced by landscapers about the upfront cost of equipment and policies resulting in unfair competition are incorporated in the proposed ordinance amendments.
The project steering committee includes co-partners Sustainable Princeton and the Princeton Environmental Commission, along with representatives from Unidad Latina en Acción NJ, the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Quiet Princeton, Rutgers School of Public Health, the Rutgers Environmental Stewards program, and several Municipality of Princeton departments and commissions, including Human Services, the Board of Health, and the Civil Rights Commission.
What can you do right now to help? As the leaves begin to fall, keep them on your property and out of the street to use as mulch, providing nutrients to the soil and reducing the clogging of storm drains. If you cut your grass, consider switching to an electric mower or leaf blower. If you employ a landscaper, make sure they wear protective gear and are registered with the municipality. Provide battery-powered equipment for your landscaper to use on your property. And help prevent flooding by installing a rain barrel, rain garden, downspout planter, or by converting some of your lawn to a meadow.
Our goal is to shift people’s thinking toward healthier, more sustainable landscaping practices. This shift is a complex process that requires a sustained effort, but we are making progress together. We invite you to learn more about our recent actions and plans for the remainder of the year by reading our Summer 2021 newsletter at sustainableprinceton.org/current-projects/.
Changing the Landscape/Cambiando el Paisaje