Sustainability ingredients: Innovation, persistence, partnerships, and leadership

November 22, 2017


Sustainable Jersey 2017 special awards announced

 This week, Sustainable Jersey celebrated the 82 municipalities, from 18 New Jersey counties, that achieved the Sustainable Jersey certification in 2017. Sustainable Jersey has almost hit the 80 percent participation mark this year with 445 of New Jersey’s 565 towns engaged in the municipal certification program.

The awards were announced at an event attended by over 400 local and regional government officials, green team members, industry professionals, and sustainability leaders. In addition to the certified towns, we announced the municipalities that received 2017 Sustainable Jersey special awards.

Jersey City prioritizes innovation

If our government is ineffective, our attempts to solve sustainability issues will also be ineffective. With an appreciation for this connection, Jersey City has prioritized transparency of data and allowed public access for its public information and engagement and open data initiatives. In recognition of this work, Jersey City received the Sustainable Jersey 2017 Creativity and Innovation Award for its forward-thinking and support of a culture of creativity and innovation.

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Through an open data portal, Jersey City is working to be more transparent by providing access to data and information on the city’s resources, operations, and activities. Jersey City provides a platform that supports data-based decision making, promotes public use of data and strengthens citizen engagement in the democratic process.

“We are honored to receive this award for open data and public engagement,” said Jersey City Mayor Steven M. Fulop.  “We pride ourselves on a collaborative, community-based approach to problem-solving, as well as creating a more open and transparent city government.”

The Jersey City Office of Innovation is an excellent example of how a city can promote sustainable practices by aligning priorities, encouraging partnerships and modifying behaviors.

Persistence pays off for National Park Borough

SJ 2National Park Borough is a rural town in Gloucester County with a population of about 3,000. After five years of hard work, the borough achieved Sustainable Jersey certification this year and thanks to their determination, the green team and municipal partners received the 2017 Sustainable Jersey Rookie of the Year Award.

“The goal of Sustainable Jersey certification for our borough was important to us and we did not give up until we achieved it. The bonus is that our community will be healthier and more sustainable as we continue with our work,” said K’leen Cucugliello, the chair of the National Park Green Team.

Read the National Park Borough certification report for an overview of the actions they accomplished for certification.

Longport, Margate and Ventnor advance sustainability through partnerships

Realizing that sustainability issues do not stop at the town line, three municipal green teams joined forces to increase the quality of life on Absecon Island.

“As coastal communities, the four Absecon Island communities share many of the same concerns. By working toward common goals that improve the quality of life, the results are quicker and our efforts have a much greater impact,” said Margate Mayor Michael Becker. “Whether it’s working together to limit balloons, cleanup the back bays, our watershed management plan, we are fortunate to have dedicated volunteers in our four communities working to make Absecon Island as green as it can be.”

Sustainable Downbeach is comprised of the Longport, Margate and Ventnor green teams. Sustainable Downbeach and the Surfrider Foundation worked to have all Atlantic and Cape May County coastal communities pass an ordinance that prohibits the intentional release of balloons. Margate, Longport, Ventnor and approximately eight other coastal communities have adopted an ordinance. The ordinances impose a $500 fine for anyone who intentionally releases balloons into the atmosphere. The group is now focusing on statewide legislation.

“Living on an island makes you realize that boundaries on a map are just lines on paper. Actions that originate on land have impacts on our oceans and beyond. Plastic bags, bottles and balloons are ending up in our waterways and negatively impacting marine wildlife and ultimately ourselves through the food chain,” Longport Mayor Nick Russo said. “If Longport takes action to help protect the environment, it helps, but if all of Absecon Island takes a stand, the impact is that much greater. Together we have worked to address environmental issues including the release of balloons, plastic bags, watershed management, cleaning our back bays and celebrating Earth Hour. The Downbeach communities understand this dynamic and we will continue to work together to make this a better place for all.”

Through collaboration, Sustainable Downbeach is making considerable progress. Other projects the group has partnered on include reusable bag education and carry-out bag fee ordinances, beach sweeps, Absecon Island Back Bay Cleanup, bike and pedestrian plan and currently a watershed management plan.

Ventnor Mayor Beth Holtzman concluded, “Ventnor is committed to working with our neighbors to reduce costs and improve the quality of life in our community. We look forward to continuing to work in collaboration with the Absecon Island communities.”

Chatham Borough Mayor Bruce Harris Recognized as Sustainability Leader

Mayor Bruce Harris has made sustainability a priority for Chatham Borough for many years. The borough, a two-time winner of the Sustainability Champion Award, is focused on encouraging residents to live in a sustainable manner. This year, Mayor Harris received the Mayor Arthur Ondish Leadership Award.  This award is given annually by Sustainable Jersey in memory of Mayor Arthur Ondish of Mount Arlington, who was a true leader and an original member of the visionary mayors who founded the Sustainable Jersey program.

Mayor Harris said, “To me, the important thing about the Sustainable Jersey program is that it provides the opportunity for all of us, as individuals, to find ways in which we, by our own actions, can contribute to protecting and preserving our environment. In Chatham, we have focused on encouraging residents to live in a sustainable manner. Our “pay-as-you-throw” garbage system, farmers’ market, community garden, beekeeping club and community apiary, and Explore Chatham trail network are just a few examples of our sustainable practices. Our task is to educate and to encourage everyone to incorporate sustainable practices in their everyday activities.”

Mayor Harris and Franklin Township Mayor Phil Kramer are co-hosting the New Jersey Mayors’ Climate Summit that will take place on February 3, 2018. For more information and to register for the event, visit:


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