HOWELL – Alfred C. Sauer Park came alive with activity as area residents embraced the opportunity to celebrate Earth Day.
The event featured an assortment of vendors who promoted environmental sustainability and offered information on a variety of topics. As a bonus, participants in the Earth Day celebration also had the chance to take advantage of the spring opening of the Farmer’s Market.
Lisa Doud, Chair of the Environmental Commission, coordinated the distribution of approximately 250 free tree seedlings made available as part of the New Jersey Forest Service’s Tree Recovery Campaign. Residents had the opportunity to select from a variety of trees and receive instructions on how to store, care for, and plant them.
Doud explained that the state first began handing out tree seedlings after Hurricane Sandy and other destruction caused by several new invasive insects. The program is now in its ninth year and is a joint effort between Howell, NJ Forest Service, Urban and Community Forestry Program, NJ Forest Service Nursery, New Jersey Soil Conservation Districts, Arbor Day Foundation, FedEx, Texpo Energy and Tomorrow Energy.
The topic of trees appeared almost serendipitous when DPW Director Paul Novello coincidentally found himself in the area of the seedling distribution. Without hesitation, Novello directed attention to a recently planted tree on the grounds of the park.
“That’s our new Christmas tree,” said Novello. “The other one was destroyed and broke off high above the ground. I called Joe Clark (Township Manager) and told him I was broken-hearted. He arranged for replacement with a Norway Spruce, which is much heartier than our other tree.”
Manoj Jain, a Master Gardener of Monmouth County, provided valuable guidance regarding the composting to turn food scraps and yard waste into nutrient-rich soil. Jain suggested that Monmouth County residents should take advantage of an Earth Machine Backyard Compost Bin available for just $35.
Jain said the machines have a retail value of $200 and will help facilitate the composting process. Howell residents have a choice of three locations to pick one up, with the nearest at Freehold DPW’s office on Jackson Mills Road. Interested parties should call 732 294-2161 to check availability before showing up in person.
At least 50 individuals headed out to clean up streets, all part of a regular cycle throughout the municipality. Residents were also encouraged to play their part in creating a sustainable future by embracing eco-friendly practices in their daily lives.
“One of the things I’m concentrating on now is eliminating single use plastics,” said Bridget Kosinski, Howell Recycling Coordinator. “We have reusable sandwich bags for example that can even go in the freezer.”
Two representatives from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection were excited to share information about electric vehicle initiatives. Jana Opperman was able to give a firsthand testimonial supporting the idea of green energy – beginning with an economic revelation.
“I bought an electric Hyundai Kona in 2020,” shared Opperman. “There was no tax upon the sale, and I had to do an application to the BPU. Now dealers do the work for the $4,000 rebate.”
Opperman said that electric vehicles continue to attract more buyers, and it’s not just because of their reduced emissions. They’re also less expensive to operate and have lower maintenance costs.
One of the highlights of Howell’s Earth Day celebration was a moving presentation by Elaine Taylor, owner of the Shangri La Farm. She warned about the danger of pesticides and herbicide residues in non-organic foods.
“Being good stewards of the land is so important while we are on this planet,” Taylor said. “Please do your best to take care of it and yourself.”