Links & Tips
'Wild Ones' Native Plants, Natural Landscapes http://www.for-wild.org/
Native Plant Society of New Jersey http://www.npsnj.org/
- A full bathtub requires about 70 gallons of water, but taking a five-minute shower saves water by using 10 to 25 gallons. Put a little timer or clock near your shower so you can see how fast you are. Save even more water, and money on your water bill, by installing a water-efficient showerhead, or ask your landlord to install one if you rent.
- Go Paperless
- Make it a habit to think before you print: could this be read or stored online instead? When you receive unwanted catalogs, newsletters, magazines, or junk mail, request to be removed from the mailing list before you recycle the item. It's as simple as calling the customer service number and requesting to be taken off the mailing list.
- Think Globally, Eat Locally
- Take a moment to think about where the food you eat comes from --- buying local means you're reducing your food miles (the distance and energy it takes to ship the food to your plate). You're also helping to support small family farms and your local economy.
- Cooking Time & Energy
- Save cooking time and energy. Using smaller appliances, like a microwave, toaster oven, rice cooker, or crock pot. Choosing the right size pan and burner for meals prepared on the stove; and keeping the oven door closed while baking are other great ways to conserve energy in the kitchen.
- Compact Fluorescent Lamps
- Switching from traditional light bulbs to CFLs is an easy change to reduce energy use at home. According to EPA's ENERGY STAR program, if every American switched out one incandescent bulb to a CFL, it would prevent more than 600 million in annual energy costs and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from 800,000 cars. You can recycle expired, unbroken CFL bulbs at the Home Depot.
- Old Towels
- Give worn out towels new life as dog toys or batting for a baby quilt. Alternatively, donate them to an animal shelter for drying off damp paws and lining kennels.
- Save Fuel
- To improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, go easy on the brakes and gas pedal, avoid hard accelerations, reduce time spent idling and unload unnecessary items in your trunk to reduce weight. If you have a removable roof rack and you are not using it, take it off to improve your fuel economy by as much as 5 percent. Use overdrive and cruise control on your car if you have those features.
- Native Plants
- Consider using native plants in your landscape. Since they are already adapted to local conditions, native plants are easy to grow and maintain, generally requiring less fertilizer and water, as well as less effort to control pests. Visit http://www.npsnj.org for more info.
- Arbor Day
- Celebrate Arbor Day and plant a tree. A single tree can absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.
- Wire Coat Hangers
- About 3.5 billion wire hangers get dumped into U.S. landfills every year, according to the Hanger Network. That's 195 millions pounds of steel-or the equivalent of 60.000 cars. Instead of pitching your wire hangers into the trash, return them to your dry cleaner.
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- Turn off electronic devices when not in use. Simply turning off your TV, DVD, computer and other electronic devices can reduce thousand of pounds of household carbon dioxide emissions each year.
- Reusable Ashes
- As you walk your fireplace ashes outside, take a detour to your compost pile. Wood ashes are especially high in potassium and can be used to amend overly acidic soil. Just be sure to add no more than two gallons of material to a 3'x3'x3' pile.
Avoid using coal ashes since they contain large amounts of sulfur and iron that can injure your plants.
- Conserve Energy
- Close shades and blinds at night to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows. Consider using insulating curtains to reduce excessive heat loss from large windows at night.
- Vehicle Maintenance
- A well-maintained vehicle is more fuel-efficient, produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions, is more reliable, and is safer! Keep your car well tuned, follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, and use the recommended grade of motor oil. Also check and replace your vehicle’s air filter regularly.
- Holiday Gifts & Trash
- Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year's holiday period than any other time of year--about 1 million extra tons per week (source: www.use-less-stuff.com). One way you can help reduce this is to rethink your gift wrapping strategy.
When gift wrapping, remember the 3 R's: reduce, reuse, and recycle. Reduce waste by wrapping gifts within gifts. Reuse paper, bags, or other containers. Recycle by choosing wrapping materials that won't end up in a landfill. (Most traditional gift wrap is not recyclable, due to its high metallic and dye content. Before buying, check the label or ask your retailer about it.)
- Ceiling Fans
- Ceiling fans aren't just for summertime. You can utilize your fan in the winter to keep your home warm without using as much heat. By reversing your ceiling fan's motor, hot air that normally accumulates at the top of the room will be projected downward. This improved heat circulation will also help prevent "sweating windows" by discouraging condensation.
- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
- Help ease the burden on our landfills -- give away or sell used items that you no longer want. If you have items you would like to give away, visit www.freecycle.org and join the local Morris County group. You simply post an item, and people who are interested respond to your post and even arrange for pick up! It's easy and good for the environment
- Packing Materials
- Many packing and shipping stores will accept plastic foam peanuts, bubble wrap, and other packing and shipping materials for reuse. Help keep our landfills empty of these items! Check with your local packing and shipping stores to see if they will accept used packing materials for reuse.
- Phosphates & Water Supply
- Common household cleaners containing phosphates or phosphorus can adversely affect environmental water quality. While phosphorus is naturally occurring in soil, it is released into the water supply from rain or melting snow run-off at a certain natural rate. Phosphates are a common cleaning ingredient are found in shampoos, hand soap, bath soap, and dish detergents. Choosing cleaning products with reduced amounts of these chemicals can reduce our effect on our water supply. For example, when choosing a dishwasher detergent, look on the grocery shelf for the product containing the least amount of these chemicals
- Think Recycling
- 3.4 million tons of paper are purchased during back-to-school season. If every student used 100 percent recycled paper--available now at most major retailers--we could save millions of trees. More than 14 billion pencils are produced every year--enough to circle the globe 62 times. Consider buying refillable pencils that can be used for years, or recycled pencils.
- Recycled Content Paper Plates
- If each U.S. household replaces one 40-count package of conventional paper plates with 100% recycled ones, we'll save 487,000 trees. Check the packaging for the "100% recycled paper" label on all your paper products. In addition to saving trees, every ton of paper that is recovered saves 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.
- Pay Bills On-Line
- The cost in fuel and CO2 for one bill may be tiny, but it adds up. By one estimate, if each US household viewed and paid its bills online, we would save more than 29 trillion BTUs of energy and reduce 1.7 billion pounds of waste a year. You can arrange individual payments at the companies' website or set up online banking at your financial institution.
- Recycle Batteries
- Recycle Batteries to help prevent the pollution of our soil, water, and air. Single use or rechargeable batteries contain heavy metals, such as cadmium and lead, that can leach out of solid waste land fills, contaminating the soil and water. Batteries disposed of in the regular trash may also end up being burned in a solid waste incinerator, creating the potential for air pollution. Toxic heavy metals released into the environment bioaccumulate, or concentrate in the tissues of living organisms and can make their way into the food chain. Recycling your batteries can be done by dropping them off at the Washington Township Public Library or at several local retailers that sell electronic equipment.
- White Vinegar
- White vinegar is a non-toxic disinfectant and mildew-fighter. Use it either diluted or full-strength to wipe down counters, sinks, tiles and shelves. A cup of vinegar will kill germs and odors in the toilet; add some baking soda to get "scrubbing bubbles". Put a few teaspoons of vinegar and a few drops of dish detergent in a spray bottle of water to do windows.
- Laundry & Cash
- When doing laundry, go for the COLD water settings on your machine to conserve energy and cash. It's usually just as effective as the hot water settings. You'll save major energy since most of the energy used to do laundry goes to heating the water.
You'll also save cold, hard cash by forgoing the hot for the cold. In a year, each household that switches keeps 1,281 lbs of CO2 from entering the air. Cold water also keeps your clothes looking newer longer than hot water washing.
- Lawn Fertilizers
- Lawn fertilizers are compounds that promote the growth of grass and other lawn plants, including weeds. Store bought lawn fertilizers typically provide a lawn with the 3 main nutrients necessary for vigorous growth and strong roots, i.e., nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.
Like many things, too much of a good one can be harmful, environmentally in this case. Excessive use of lawn fertilizers can not only have a negative effect on the grass, it can result in ground and surface water contamination. Excess fertilizer that is not absorbed by the grass's roots will work its way through the soil into the groundwater, i.e., the source of drinking water in Washington TWP.
Excess fertilizer may also be washed off of the treated area and carried by storm water into surface waters such as rivers and lakes. An excessive concentration of phosphorous in a pond or lake can cause algae blooms to grow, depleting the oxygen in the water to a point where fish and other aquatic species cannot survive. When fertilizing, use the prescribed amount and at the recommended intervals, while maintain a 20 foot buffer around the edges of lakes, streams, and storm drains.
If unsure about the frequency and amount of lawn fertilizer to apply, purchase a soil analysis kit, or visit the website of any major lawn fertilizer producer.
- Shopping Bags
- Shopping bags create an incredible amount of waste for something that's often in our lives for fewer than 5 minutes (store to car, car to house). Every time you reuse a bag you double the environmental savings: you save the bag you reused from going to a landfill, and you save a new one from needing to be used. Next time you go shopping, BYOB (bring your own bag).
See Below for More Information
The Washington Township Environmental Commission has identified a grant and will be applying for funds to be used to raise awareness of invasive plant species in Washington Township. An invasive species is one that is a non-native organizm that is causing harm to the environment, human health or the economy. They are wshown to interrupt the natural functions of an ecosystem by impacting native plants and animals. The NJ Invasive Species Strike Team has created a website to learn more. http://www.njisst.org/NRCSGrant.htm
If you have a smartphone, the power to protect is in your hands!! You can use your phone to help stop the spread of invasive plants. Download the NJ Invasive Species Strike Team APP to help identify and share invasive species that you find.
Why are invasive plants a problem in natural areas?
Like an invading army, invasive plants take over and degrade natural ecosystems, wreaking havoc on the intricate and complex web of life involving native plants, animals and other organisms. Invasive species are extremely harmful as they: 1) out compete natives for limited natural resources including soil, water, light, nutrients and space 2) replace native plantswhich serve as food for wildlife with an inedible, toxic, or otherwise useless resource 3) draw pollinators away from native plants 4)hybridize with native species and 5)push rare species closer to extinction causing an overall reduction in native biodiversity. Some invasive species spread rapidly and can change the character of forests, meadows, wetlands and other natural plant communities into landscapes dominated by a single species termed “monocultures which have little ecological value.
Invasive plants impede recreational activities such as boating, fishing, swimming, hiking and biking as they can overgrow trails and riparian areas or form impenetrable tangles in shallow water areas. Once established, invasives require enormous amounts of time, labor and money to manage and most are difficult to eliminate. One estimate of the economic impact of invasive species is $142 billion annually.
How are invasive plants introduced?
People introduce exotic plants intentionally and by accident, through a variety of means. Plants are introduced for food, medicine, landscaping, erosion control, forage, windbreaks and many other purposes. Many non-native plants have great economic value for agriculture, forestry, horticulture and other industries and pose little environmental threat. The potatoes that fed Ireland originated in the South American Andes. The apples we enjoy today originated in Kazakhstan. These are seen to be ‘beneficial’ plant introductions.
Many ornamental species have escaped from plantings to become significant environmental weeds. About two-thirds of the almost 1,200 plants currently reported to be invasive in natural areas in the U.S. were imported for their horticultural value. Japanese barberry, bamboos, privets, Chinese and Japanese wisteria, porcelain-berry, Oriental bittersweet and Princess tree were introduced and planted for ornamental purposes and are now major weeds of natural habitats, requiring significant resources to attempt to control. Other
species have been introduced unknowingly on various imported products soil, water used for ship ballast or packing materials. Japanese stiltgrass, one of our most insidious invasive grasses, was used as packing material for porcelain and likely got a start when some material containing seed was deposited outdoors.
Once established in a new environment exotic species are able to proliferate and expand over large areas and become invasive pests.
How you can prevent the spread of invasive plants
Become familiar with invasive plant species in your area and avoid using them. When selecting plants for landscaping, check the list before purchasing to avoid buying any that are known to be invasive or have a reputation for being weedy. Use native plants whenever possible that are native to the ecological region where you want to use them. Request nurseries to carry a wide variety of native species and offer some suggestions for plants you’ve been looking for. Consumer demand is a powerful tool that can be a major driver behind greater diversity and supply of natives.
If you have invasive plants on your property, consider removing them and replacing them with native species. When visiting a natural area, be alert for invasive species. If you see some, notify the agency or organization responsible for managing the land. Before you leave, avoid carrying “hitchhiking” plant material by taking time to brush seeds from clothing and shoes and remove plant material from boats, trailers and other items.
Taking action against invasive plants involves consideration of the various tools and techniques available for each plant and situation including site conditions, time of year, and resources available. Secondary and unintended consequences of control should also be considered.
The goal is to achieve effective long-term control and eventual restoration by using approaches that pose the least risk of harm to people - especially those conducting the work - and to the environment including non-target plants and wildlife. The bottom line is that the target species will be successfully controlled or at least reduced to a manageable level. This approach is referred to as integrated pest management (IPM).
Often, the most effective method may be to do nothing at all until a suitable safe and well-thought-out tactic can be found. Each method comes with its own set of risks. Use of herbicides poses risks and requirements associated with mixing, application, rinsing, disposal and storage. In order to avoid harm to yourself and others, to non-target plants and animals (including pets), and to the environment, especially in the case of an accidental spill, it is imperative that you are properly and sufficiently trained. No one should be applying herbicides without full knowledge about: 1) reading a pesticide label; 2) what the requirements for applying pesticides in your state are; 3) how to contact the company if there are questions about using the product; 4) how to measure the concentrate; 5) what type of personal protective equipment is required during mixing and application; 6) what type of application equipment is recommended and most appropriate to your situation; 7) calibration of spray equipment, 8) rinsing and cleaning sprayers; and 9) disposal of unused mix, concentrate and containers.
Pesticide use by homeowners on their own property requires that the pesticide be allowed for residential use and that the product is not a Restricted Use pesticide, meaning it can only be applied by a licensed applicator. Application of pesticides on public lands and other properties generally requires certification with the Department of Agriculture in your state, which involves training and testing. Contact the agency in your state responsible for pesticides for more information.
Additional methods and approaches are available and can be obtained by contacting organizations and specialists in the region. It is up to each individual to know and abide by the regulations applicable to the area where herbicide applications will be done. Use pesticides wisely: always read the entire pesticide label carefully, follow all mixing and application instructions and wear all recommended personal protective gear and clothing. Contact your state department of agriculture for any additional pesticide use requirements, restrictions or recommendations.
If plants are pulled up, soil disturbance could bring more weed seed to the surface or facilitate invasion by additional invasive plants. The act of physically removing plants prepares the ground for the next crop of invasives. Lists of native plants are available from most state native plant societies and some state natural resources agencies. Check out Resources page for further guidance. Some great sources of information on the importance and selection of native plants that provide food and shelter for native butterflies, birds, mammals and other wildlife are:
1) Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, Updated and Expanded by Douglas Tallamy,
2) Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping, by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Chesapeake Bay Field Office,
3) Native Plants of the Northeast: A Guide for Gardening and Conservation, by Donald J. Leonard,
4) Designing Gardens with the Flora of the American Northeast, by CarolynSummers, and
5) the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s Native Plant Information Network (see References).