By Jessica Vasquez
April is the month of Earth Day, four weeks when human impact on our planet is most highlighted. One town that is doing their part is Kinnelon, New Jersey. But April is not the only time that this community comes together to educate themselves and act upon their new knowledge.
Kinnelon Conserve is a grassroots environmental awareness group of Northern New Jersey founded in 2006 by Avery Hart, a mental health practitioner and author of childrens’ books. Hart worked with Jo Sippie-Gora and Belinda Hull, two concerned citizens, to form the organization. These women got the word out that Kinnelon citizens could do their part by making a commitment to form new environmental and economy friendly habits. Kinnelon Conserve founders went to schools, government members, libraries, faith leaders, and various residents for support. A pledge, called “The 1,000 Ton Challenge” was signed by those who resolve to do what they could change in their daily lives to have a positive impact on the Earth.
In November of 2008, Kinnelon Conserves was recognized at the 21st Annual Morris County Recycling Awards. The group received the N.E. Morris County Conservation is Good Conservation Award. Since the group’s founding, they had participated in nine public events by this time. At each event, participants were asked to sign the pledge, the first part of which reads “I pledge to become more aware about my use of energy and natural resources. I will do my best to replace wasteful habits with wise ones, to conserve energy and natural resources, and take action to prevent 5000 pounds of unnecessary pollution.”
Avery Hart describes the group: “Our goal is to start with ourselves, by boosting awareness.” The group’s homepage ( http://www.kinnelonconserves.com/} is their greatest resource for residents. The subtitle “A Community Energy Reduction Initiative” says it all; the goal is conservative habits. A compilation of links to websites full of useful information and innovation is designed for adults and kids. Not only are viewers informed on why they should be practicing sustainable living, but also how to gradually make the transition.
Links on the homepage educate residents on what purchases they can cut back on at the grocery store such as Styrofoam cups and plastic utensils which are not biodegradable. Beneath each listed item are reason not to buy them, as well as alternatives to these purchases. The Kid’s section of the page is “where kids of all ages explore, play & learn.” It leads to websites that give children and young adults the tools to make their community, such as school and places of worship, safer and healthier environments not only for those attending these places, but for the world around them. Such a site is hosted by the Natural Resources Defense Council and referred to as “the green squad.”
Kinnelon Conserves will host their 5th Annual Earth Day Fair on Saturday, April 9 at Pearl Miller School, 117 Kiel Avenue. The event will take place rain or shine as entertainment takes place both indoors and outdoors. Activities include live music, films, and vendors. Programs will be promoted and “green” products will be available to purchase. Eco-vendors, performers, and volunteers are still needed for this event. For more information about the fair, sustainable living, or starting your own grassroots conservation group go to http://www.kinnelonconserves.com/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.