Harnessing Westfield Residents To Help Westfield Turn “Green”!

This article originally appeared in TAPinto Westfield on May 7, 2021.

The Free Market, Earth Day Fair, Plastic Toys Cleaning and Food Waste Recycling – what do all these events and programs held in the past two weeks have in common? They are led by the work of our amazing volunteer Westfield Green Team.

I am very proud to serve as the Council Liaison to the Green Team and to help lead this motivated group of volunteers who have dedicated their time and energy to make Westfield “greener”—at no cost to taxpayers—during the past three and a half years.

The Westfield Green Team has led an incredible array of “green” initiatives that culminated in winning Sustainable Jersey’s (SJ) Silver Certification (the highest level of overall certification) and Rookie of The Year Award in 2020 for Westfield. Our Green Team was one of only 64 across New Jersey to earn Silver status for sustainable actions taken in the previous 12 months. What is more, Westfield was the only town awarded Rookie of The Year, which recognizes a newly certified municipality that effectively leveraged a wide range of resources to achieve sustainability success!

Most recently, the Team helped Westfield celebrate the 51st anniversary of Earth Day with a lineup of community events to help residents learn how to be more eco-conscious including:

  • The 3rd annual FREE Market, where at least 3 to 4 tons of gently used household goods were dropped off, and either taken by residents, by Green Drop for distribution to deserving families or recycled.
  • The biggest Earth Day Fair ever held in Westfield featuring more than a dozen vendors and exhibits helping residents live more sustainably.
  • The cleaning of hundreds of plastic toys collected by the town’s Plastic Toy Recycling program at the Conservation Center which will be given to boys and girls in Orange, NJ instead of being thrown out.
  • The relaunch of the Food Waste Recycling Program at the Conservation Center, where residents can bring their food waste to be turned into biofuel at the Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority.

These recent events are in addition to dozens of other initiatives pursued by the Green Team including multiple new recycling programs at the Conservation Center (including plastic bags, Styrofoam, batteries, and corks), the Green Westfield Program for local businesses, the town’s first-ever rain garden in Tamaques Park, the Green Development Checklist, and the Westfield Home Energy Savings Program.

Prior to 2018, Westfield’s Green Team focused primarily on annual park clean-ups. But, after joining the Town Council in 2018, I was asked by the Mayor to re-energize the Green Team and serve as the new Council Liaison. The Green Team, I realized, needed to do so much more to combat global warming than just park clean-ups. The best way to achieve this goal was to leverage the talent in our town—and do we have a lot of talent here in Westfield! More than 60 residents applied that first year when the town issued its call for volunteers. And dozens have applied every year since.

I want to thank all of the Green Team volunteers for their hard work and dedication and the Town of Westfield, especially the DPW, for being willing partners and supporters of the Green Team’s efforts. Most importantly, however, I want to thank you, Westfield’s residents, for participating and helping the Green Team achieve its mission to make Westfield more “Green”!