From Kristy Ranieri at SOMA Action:
Businesses, shoppers and town governments are joining forces to help SOMA kick the plastic habit on the first weekend in May.
The campaign will culminate with a clean-up of the Rahway River, which runs through both Maplewood and South Orange, on River Day Sunday May 6.
The program is a follow-up to last September’s SO Not Plastic, a public awareness campaign that challenged South Orange to go without single-use plastic for seven days. “That is actually impossible, so we promoted 7 tips for reducing waste, and over 2,000 neighbors participated while over 100 signed the pledge,” says South Orange environmental activist Patricia Canning, who spearheaded the effort.
“About 12% of plastic waste gets incinerated, polluting the air, including our own, as SOMA’s waste is burned in nearby Newark. This is also a social justice issue as the incinerator is in a low-income, primarily minority committee,” says Jennifer Nielsen, chair of SOMa Action Climate, which is participating in the effort along with the South Orange and Maplewood Green Teams.
“Plastic waste is also toxic to wildlife like fish, marine birds and animals that ingest it. Humans also ingest plastic through water, seafood and air; surveys have found BPA in the blood of 93% of Americans, and phthalates in nearly all,” Nielsen adds. BPA and phthalates are plastic components linked to hormonal changes in animals, including humans.
The campaign includes three elements:
- BYO Bag weekend May 4, 5 and 6: Encouraging shoppers to skip plastic bags, ask for paper bags and bring their own bags.
- Business buy-in: Merchants in South Orange Village, on Springfield Avenue in Maplewood and in Millburn have signed on, pledging not to give out single-use shopping bags May 3-6, instead offering paper bags supplied by campaign organizers. “Maplewood is committed to sustainability and our environment,” Deputy Mayor of Maplewood Frank McGehee said. “Please join me and your fellow merchants on May 4-5-6 for no plastic day in Maplewood. During the Maplewood Township Committee meeting on May 1st, I will be publicly recognizing the merchants who make the commitment to join us.”
- River Day Cleanup: South Orange’s River Day is Sunday, May 6, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the duck pond off Mead Street in South Orange. Volunteers will clean up the South Orange section of the Rahway River. The celebration will include a Lenape Nation traditional welcome, along with family-friendly food, fun and music. [https://southorange.org/522/River-Day]
To measure whether the campaign was successful, organizers will survey plastic bag use at businesses before and after the weekend.
For interviews, please contact Kristy Ranieri at Kristy Ranieri, 973.762.1510. If you’d like to help out, please e-mail [email protected].