Confronting plastic pollution, creating equitable communities and mapping sustainability issues

May 16, 2018

2018 New Jersey Sustainability Summit is June 18

Although the sustainability movement in New Jersey is experiencing significant momentum, important work is still on the horizon. There is perhaps no more powerful way to jump start fresh interest and energy into your local efforts than by joining sustainability leaders at the 2018 New Jersey Sustainability Summit. This community represents the forefront of innovation with towns such as Highland Park, Frenchtown, Margate, Maplewood, Princeton and Secaucus revealing their latest and most compelling sustainability strategies and projects.

At the Sustainability Summit, you will learn how to build a shared vision and to leverage new tools to implement ideas that contribute to the collective health of individuals, organizations, economies and the planet. The event attracts over 300 diverse participants from across New Jersey.

SJ Sustainability Summit 2018

Twelve breakout sessions will give you an opportunity to explore different sustainability initiatives. The sessions cover the usual sustainability suspects such as energy and water, but they will also address issues like economic development, social equity, education and art.  Below is a spotlight of three of the sessions planned; you can review the full list by following this link: Breakout Sessions.


SJ Sustainability Summit 2018 plastic.pngPlastics have become a single use item prevalent in many aspects of our daily lives. While convenient, these plastics are problematic not only for the environment, but the recycling industry as well. Communities around New Jersey are increasingly pushing back against the onslaught of plastic including plastic bottles, straws and plastic bags. Long Beach Township has a new ordinance requiring shoppers to bring reusable bags or pay a small fee for paper or recycled plastic bags. Long Beach joins places like Longport, Teaneck and Ventnor as members of a small group of Garden State municipalities that have passed ordinances to either ban plastic bags or place a fee on their use. Various other communities are considering similar policies. The Plastic Pollution session at the Sustainability Summit will focus on innovative initiatives currently underway that curb the use of single plastics from a reduction perspective. The speakers for this session are:

  • Monica Coffey, Chair, Sustainable Margate and Sustainable Downbeach
  • Tina Wishaus, Chair, Sustainable Highland Park
  • Gary Sondermeyer, Vice President, Bayshore Recycling
  • Samantha McGraw, Program Manager, Sustainable Jersey


How can we make sure sustainability is for everyone? Can our efforts to achieve sustainability in our communities also advance social equity at the same time? Learn about how Sustainable Jersey is addressing this challenge by conducting an equity review of the program and by developing an equity tool for municipalities. During this session, you will engage in an interactive exercise applied to your community and hear about initiatives by New Jersey municipalities who are working to eliminate barriers to opportunity and promote the equitable enjoyment of social and environmental health and well-being. The speakers for this session are:

  • Valaria Galarza, Senior Project Manager, Cooper’s Ferry Partnership
  • Marissa Davis, Senior State Program Manager, NJ YMCA State Alliance
  • Tracey Woods, Chair, Maplewood Township Green Team and Sustainable Essex Alliance
  • Melanie Hughes McDermott, PhD., Senior Researcher, Sustainable Jersey


We live within data every day–as we commute, buy goods, visit websites and more. Someone is tracking these actions to gather information they need to make decisions. Within the sustainability world, we do the same thing in order to track our energy use, water consumption and locations of natural resources or creative assets. Data is used to tell a larger story. And it’s the visualization of that data through maps and charts that is essential to effectively communicate those stories. This session will focus specifically on geographic information systems (GIS) as a tool to gather, manage and analyze data for sustainability and planning purposes. You’ll learn how to use basic GIS techniques to identify sustainability issues in your community. The speakers for this session are:

  • Iana Dikidjieva, Consultant to the Hunterdon County Creative Team and the East Trenton Collaborative; Trustee, I Am Trenton Community Foundation (IAT)
  • Mahbubur Meenar, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Planning and Sustainability. Rowan University
  • Zachary Christman Ph.D., Assistant Professor, GIS Program Director, Rowan University
  • Anthony O’Donnell, Economist, Sustainable Jersey

Attend the New Jersey Sustainability Summit
Don’t miss your chance to start or reignite your sustainability efforts at the 2018 New Jersey Sustainability Summit and hear New Jersey’s First Lady Tammy Snyder Murphy outline the Administration’s goals with regards to energy and the environment as this year’s Sustainability Summit keynote speaker.

More info and to register visit


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