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Building a Sustainable Garden State, One Community at a Time

Meanwhile, Sustainable Jersey is building on a green impulse that was taking root in some towns even before the program began.

Ocean County’s [|Galloway Township] built a community garden at a cost of $15,000 in 2008, a year before the statewide program launched. Since then, the community of around 39,000 people has earned a silver certification by measures such as developing an inventory of natural assets like soils and waterways, mapping its “carbon footprint”, and compiling a fleet inventory of municipal vehicles.

This year, the township spent $10,000 on sustainable landscaping, has been teaching residents about invasive species, and promoting water conservation, said Barbara Fiedler, who heads Galloway’s Green Team. All the measures earned Galloway 430 points, well above the 350 required for silver status.

In addition to the Green Team’s work, the program appears to be changing people’s behavior, Fiedler said, citing a rise in the city’s recycling rate to 50 percent from about 44 percent in 2007.

“I think people are a lot more aware,” she said. “We don’t get anybody complaining about it.”

But the business community seems less interested, Fiedler said. Some businesses are failing to recycle as they are required to, and need to be reminded.

That’s at odds with the experience of participating townships, which see sustainability as a lifestyle choice rather than a series of onerous tasks, Solomon said.

“It’s not about jumping through hoops,” he said. “It’s about implementing life changes.”

Jon Hurdle is a Philadelphia-based freelance reporter who covers energy, environmental, and general news for national and regional media.

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