It is said that even the smallest environmentally-friendly steps can go a long way towards healing decades of damage to the planet. But people who have trouble taking the first step may need a little help.
So this year in honor of Earth Day (Thursday, April 22), the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC) will host a day packed with free events designed to help area residents embrace a greener lifestyle.
The day-long celebration, dubbed “Brown Bag, Green Living,” will introduce the curious to green landscaping, green shopping, composting, and, of course, recycling.
In addition to these workshops, there will also be a few outdoor activities including pontoon boat rides, bird walks, eco-arts and crafts for kids, and a plant walk, during which participants will be introduced to plant species native to the Meadowlands.
“Brown Bag, Green Living,” will introduce the curious to green landscaping, shopping, composting, and recycling.
For more information, call (201) 460-1700.
Plant, and they will come
This year marks the NJMC’s eighth observance of Earth Day, also sometimes known as Arbor Day, which was first celebrated more than 100 years ago in the Midwest.
J. Sterling Morton, a Detroit native and journalist who moved to the Nebraska Territory in 1854, first came up with the idea for Arbor Day. His generation’s version of a tree-hugger, Morton argued that few settlers would make the move west because there were too few trees.
According to the Arbor Day Foundation, Morton recognized that trees were needed to help keep soil in place and for log cabins, firewood, and shade. Without trees, settlers would face shortages of many basic necessities.
To address the problem, Morton suggested in 1872 that the Nebraska Territory institute a holiday dedicated to planting trees.
The first official Arbor Day was celebrated two years later, on Morton’s birthday, April 22. Within a few years it was celebrated nationally on or around that date.
For a time, Arbor Day was somewhat overshadowed by its younger cousin, Earth Day, which is also celebrated on April 22. Earth Day, which began in the early ’70s and is regarded as the start of the modern environmental movement, addresses broader concerns than tree planting.
But Arbor Day is starting to come back into its own. A number of cities and states now dub April 22 Earth Day/Arbor Day.
Secaucus celebrates, too
Secaucus residents will also have an Earth Day option closer to home if they can’t make the trip to Lyndhurst.
As in the past, the town will host an Earth Day celebration that emphasizes the importance of teaching young people how to care for the planet. Typically, the event highlights the environmental efforts of youngsters in Secaucus. Last year, for example, the Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA) recognized Clarendon School students for their crayon recycling efforts.
The HCIA each year sponsors a crayon recycling program as part of America Recycles Day, held in the fall, then announces the winners on Arbor Day. Schools compete against each other in their district to recycle the most toxic wax crayons.
Last year, students at Clarendon recycled the most crayons, 225 lbs., and came in first place, with Huber and Immaculate Conception School placing second (195 lbs.) and third (40 lbs.), respectively.
The town’s Earth Day celebration will take place at Huber Street School. This is a departure from the recent past.
For several years, the event took place in Buchmuller Park. But “that got to be a bit much, getting the students over to the park, getting them back to school,” explained Councilman John Bueckner, chair of the council’s Recreation Committee.
Town complies with ‘Tree City’ designation
Secaucus has long understood the importance of so-called “urban forestry” programs – a term used to describe municipal efforts to plant and maintain trees in residential neighborhoods. A designated Arbor Day Foundation Tree City for the past 16 years, Secaucus has invested heavily in smart growth initiatives.
The town employs a tree conservation officer, required of all designated Tree Cities, and insists that Department of Public Works staffers have some forestry training.
Secaucus has a municipal forestry program, and the Town Council has passed several ordinances related to tree maintenance.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at email@example.com.