Happy New Year everyone! It’s not too late to be thinking about your green new year’s resolutions; in fact, we’ve thought of some for you. At Earth Day, Every Day we focus on little changes that collectively could make a big difference to protecting the environment at home and in our community.
Below is a checklist of changes you can make this year… in no particular order. Feel free to share this checklist with friends and family and we’ve listed resources for you to learn more.
- Reset your thermostat to save energy and money– Lower the heating system temperature in winter and increase the temperature in summer for your central air conditioning systems. During winter, try 60 degrees at night, and 68 while you are home. In the summer, adjust the home’s thermostat to 76 to 78 degrees to keep cool and avoid high electric bills. More info here
- Focus on the first two “R’s” in Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle– Recycling is not the best way to decrease waste. A lot of resources and energy are used to create new products. This year, commit to reducing your product consumption or reusing products by buying or trading used items. It’s never been easier to buy used with online websites; Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Ebay, and Freecycle are just a few.
- Reduce recycling contamination– Don’t be a “wishful recycler”. Commit to learning how to recycle properly in your town. Did you know pizza boxes can NOT be recycled in curbside containers? The grease on the boxes contaminates the recycling stream. Another contaminatoris the plastic bag! Plastic bags jam up recycling equipment and can shut down recycling operations. Download the Recycle Coach app or go to your town’s recycling website and print out the “acceptable recyclable materials list”. Hang it up for everyone to refer to.
- Start composting– Composting food scraps reduces waste in landfills. Mix food scraps from your kitchen with leaves, or another carbon rich material, keep it moist, and mix it once a week. Soon you will have a healthy soil amendment that helps your plants grow. Watch our composting video and read our Home Composting fact sheet to get started.
- Increase beneficial habitat in your yard- modernize your yard by converting a portion of lawn to habitat for birds, pollinators, and native plants. This can be as easy as choosing a section of lawn for a “No-mow zone” and let the lawn go. Or cut out the sod and plant native flowering plants and grasses. Choose plants that have varied bloom times throughout the year so there is always a food source for pollinators. Read our native plants fact sheet and find native plant nurseries here.
- Raise the Blade! Leave the Leaves! Soak up the Rain!.. on your lawn- Just because it’s green, does not mean your lawn is protecting the environment. A few key practices can make a big difference. Raise your lawn mower blade to 3 inches to promote deep root growth. Re-direct downspouts to your lawn so the rainwater can soak into the ground. Mulch mow leaves in the fall to return organic matter to the soil (we promise the leaves will decompose, and the microbes in the soil will thank you!). Most importantly do a soil test so you can correct fertility and pH based on actual conditions, rather than adding unnecessary chemicals that your lawn may not need. Learn about organic land care here.
- Go electric and reduce your fossil fuel consumption- The US transportation sector is the largest greenhouse gas contributor in the United States. Need a new car in 2021?Make the switch to an electric or hybrid car. And your “new” car does not need to be new; there are many used hybrid vehicles on the market. Choose electric when you make other consumer purchases- for example, leaf blowers or mowers. Visit www.drivegreen.nj.gov/ to learn more about electric vehicles.
- Get outside more and explorenature- Commit to getting out and experiencing nature at least once a week. Why once a week? Because more and more research is showing that immersing yourself in nature benefits your mental and physical wellbeing. Some in the medical field are prescribing nature-based time to their patients. This field is called ecotherapy (or nature therapy) which has shown a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. And let’s face it… we could ALL use that right now.
Has Earth Day, Every Day helped you commit to your green new year’s resolutions? We want to hear about it. Reply to this email and let us know!
Upcoming Events/ Programs
- There are still a few spaces left in the Rutgers Environmental Stewards 2021 online class. The Rutgers Environmental Steward program is for anyone who wants to learn about the science behind important environmental issues affecting New Jersey. If you have a passion for the environment, a desire to learn and a willingness to volunteer, then this program is for you! The class runs on Tuesday evenings from 5- 8pm starting January 26th and running for 20 weeks. The class fee is $200. Learn more at https://envirostewards.rutgers.edu/county-classes/
- Have a budding scientist in your family? The next Rutgers 4-H “Ask a Scientist Panel” is focused on Medical and Public Health, on Thursday, January 28, 7-8 pm ET. The distinguished panel includes Dr. Mark Robson, Dr. Linda Flynn and Dr. Brian Buckley. More information and registration at: https://4hset.rutgers.edu/virtual-programs/
- The 2021 Introductory Fisheries Science for Stakeholders (IFISSH) course offered through Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) starts in February. The objective of this course is to educate stakeholders of New Jersey’s commercial and recreational marine fisheries so that they will better understand and make progress on issues impacting their industries, including the science, management, and responsible stewardship of fishery resources. Class sessions will meet weekly on Tuesday evenings (6:30 – 9:00 PM) from February 16 through April 20. More information is available at https://ocean.njaes.rutgers.edu/marine/IFISSH.html or register at https://go.rutgers.edu/a03sxx4d
- Rutgers Cooperative Extension county offices are opening registration for their online Gardening Education series. Contact your local Cooperative Extension office to inquire what is being offered in your county (njaes.rutgers.edu/county/ ). Some counties will be collecting registrations starting in January for classes beginning in early February. If you are interested in horticulture, and wish to have a more in-depth understanding of core topics, contact your local Cooperative Extension office today.
NJAES Mission Statement
To enhance the vitality, health, sustainability and overall quality of life in New Jersey by developing and delivering practical, effective solutions to current and future challenges relating to agriculture; fisheries; food; natural resources; environments; public health; and economic, community, and youth development.
NJAES Non-discrimination Statement
Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station Cooperative Extension educational programs are offered to all without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, military service, veteran status, and any other category protected by law. Rutgers Cooperative Extension encourages individuals with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you need special accommodations, have questions about physical access, or require alternate means for program information, please contact your local Extension Office. Contact the State Extension Director’s Office if you have concerns related to discrimination, 732-932-5000, ext. 584.