Cherry Hill spreads green awareness

As the students of Cherry Hill East take their first steps into the new school year, the community leaps into becoming green. Cherry Hill Township has focused this summer towards building a better and more ecologically-efficient environment. The best part is that the township is nowhere near stopping.

Last March, Sustainable Cherry Hill, an assemblage of Cherry Hill citizens dedicated to creating a greener, more sustainable town, came up with the “Green Action Plan.” The plan highlights increasing recycling in Cherry Hill, which will create sustainability by reducing solid waste and even saving money. It also highlights energy conservation measures such as installing solar panels at Town Hall to receive energy from the sun.

“Sustainable Cherry Hill is connecting all the dots in getting everyone in the community to join forces,” said Jennifer Kelley, the aide to Mayor Bernie Platt.

Platt and Town Council, all strong supporters of making Cherry Hill sustainable, unanimously passed the Green Action plan on March 10, 2008.

“This is Cherry Hill’s opportunity to be an environmental leader, shrink our carbon footprint and find ways to improve Township energy conservation,” said Platt.

This past summer, Sustainable Cherry Hill held two educational movie events. The first, held at the Cherry Hill Public Library, was a short documentary called The Story of Stuff. The next event, held at Town Hall, was the feature film documentary, The Eleventh Hour, produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio. Both films educated the viewers not only on the dangers of consumerism and global warming, but also on the positive changes that people can make.

Some of Sustainable Cherry Hill’s upcoming fall events include a Sustainable Business Seminar on November 11 at 7 p.m. in the Cherry Hill Public Library. The seminar will feature Dr. Kevin Lyons, a Rutgers professor, discussing environmentally responsible business practices. On December 11, at 7 p.m., also at the Cherry Hill Public Library, comes “Sustainable Celebrations,” an informative presentation on how to “green” your holidays from gift-wrapping to party planning.

According to Sustainable Cherry Hill’s mission statement, the goal of the organization is to educate and empower all stakeholders of the community, including schools, businesses, religious groups and the government, to make environmentally friendly choices, contributing towards a better future.
Another organization new to Cherry Hill’s “greening” effort and a key component of the Township’s Green Action Plan is Recycle Bank, which provides large, blue carts to every house in Cherry Hill. Instead of having to separate paper from bottles, cans and glass, citizens can now conveniently throw all of their recyclables into one bin. The trucks scan an identification tag on the bin and the amount that was recycled becomes Recycle Bank points. These points later can be redeemed as rewards, including gift cards from Recycle Bank sponsors.

Recycle Bank is a helpful program that not only helps the environment, but also helps families all over Cherry Hill to save money. It provides communities with a cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution to the rising cost of waste collection, according to the official website of Recycle Bank.
“We hope that everyone will begin to look at their lives and the things they do through the lens of sustainability,” said Kelley.

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