My neighborhood is home to the last episode of *The Sopranos* and *The Real Housewives of New Jersey* (“real” being a matter of interpretation). Anyone who has ever driven the NJ Turnpike probably thinks of it as a hopelessly brown and barren place. But New Jersey is taking on sustainable living and working towards a better future through an exciting new Sustainable Jersey program that offers certification for municipalities that take on a green action plan.
187 towns signed up in the first three months of the program, representing all 21 New Jersey counties. In addition to providing certification services, the Sustainable Jersey program awards small grants to town programs that demonstrate exceptional merit.
The first meeting of the Greener Bloomfield group I joined was quite impressive. We reviewed the Sustainable Jersey program and broke out into groups that were each interested in pursuing different SJ categories, including: Community Partnership and Outreach, Energy Efficiency, Green House Gas reduction, and Green Design. Each subgroup discussed options for initiatives and programs relevant to Bloomfield. The Community Partnership and Outreach group is particularly interested in giving educational sessions that capture “real stories” of green living from Greener Bloomfield members. Solar water heating, retrofit whole-house insulation, composting, mechanical system upgrades and green cleaning strategies were among the subjects proposed for the educational sessions.
I encourage you to look into similar programs in your state. We are realizing that an individual, a company, or a neighborhood cannot do it alone. But everyone working together can change the future. We are looking for ideas about your neighborhood to help our neighborhood, so please share your success stories in the comments.