July 8, 2019
Springfield Avenue Clean Up Raises Community Litter Awareness,
Collects Over 100 Shoes for Re-Use
BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - On Sunday, June 30, members of Val’s Valiants, the Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission (BHEC), Sustainable Berkeley Heights, the Berkeley Heights Downtown Beautification Committee (DBC), members of Girl Scout Troop 40822, and other local residents braved the sweltering heat to help clean up Springfield Avenue.
At the beginning of the event, which began outside of Dunkin’ Donuts, Pavni Bhardwaj and Katherine Zhou, two members of Troop 40822 who are each working toward earning their Silver Award, delivered an inspiring presentation about how people are adversely impacting the environment by littering and why it is important for people to become more educated about this issue so that they can change their behavior and take appropriate action.
The group children and adults alike, which included DBC head Julie Lloyd and Councilman Manny Couto, divided into “teams” of two and three people, with each team using a Val’s Valiants litter data tracking sheet – based on New Jersey Clean Community Council’s (NJCCC’s) Ocean Data Litter Tracking From – to record the amounts and different types of litter collected. Many clean-up participants were shocked at the number of cigarette butts and other small items they collected. Collectively, in just over one hour, the group gathered 1,158 cigarette butts, 152 food and candy wrappers, and approximately 500 pieces of glass, plastic, and paper that would otherwise still be polluting the Berkeley Heights downtown area.
“The litter we collected is not just unattractive, but in the case of cigarette butts, toxic,” said Gail Nelson, a DBC member and a clean-up participant. “The DBC is pleased to be able to partner with Sustainable Berkeley Heights and other town organizations to make Berkeley Heights clean and green. It’s wonderful that community members continue to come together to clean up our town’s main street.”
Ms. Zhou and Ms. Bhardwaj observed that having additional trash cans and ash trays placed in the downtown area would be beneficial in keeping the downtown area cleaner. “We picked up many cigarettes behind CVS even though there were ash trays just across the street at Dunkin’ Donuts,” noted Ms. Zhou. “People are doing what is more convenient for them.”
Education, mindfulness, and behavior modification will also play a key role in keeping the downtown area cleaner. According to Ms. Bjardwaj, “To make littering less prevalent in our town, not only do we have to educate those around us to be more mindful of the negative consequences ground pollution has, but we also have to make it easier for them to be mindful.”
In the spirit of recycling and re-using items collected, Val Diamond of Val’s Valiants helped both to clean up the street and run a shoe donation drive for gently worn shoes. As a result of this effort, 108 pairs of shoes weighing a total of 118 pounds were received from community members and donated to Zappos for Good in partnership with Soles4Souls. The shoes will be distributed in the U.S. and globally through Soles4Souls, so that they assist people in need, rather than winding up in a landfill.
Val’s Valiants, the BHEC, Sustainable Berkeley Heights, the DBC, and Troop 40822 plan on conducting another litter clean-up that is open to the public toward the end of August. Please check the websites for Sustainable Berkeley Heights https://www.sustainablebh.org and the BHEC https://www.berkeleyheights.gov/195/Environmental-Commission for information and details that will be posted in the upcoming weeks.
June 25, 2019
Adopt-A-Sign Volunteers Help Beautify Berkeley Heights
BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Summer is here and the Berkeley Heights Adopt-A-Sign program is in full swing, bringing hands-on volunteer opportunities for families, businesses, and community organization to make the Town green and beautiful.
Here’s how this new program started: In recent years, new Berkeley Heights branded signs were installed around Town. These include welcome signs on entrance roads to Town and marker signs at parks. To ensure well-maintained plantings at the base of each sign, the Berkeley Heights Downtown Beautification Committee (DBC) and Environmental Commission teamed up to launch Adopt-a-Sign.
Once volunteers have selected a sign location, they care for that sign by adding plantings at its base and maintaining them through first frost. Besides buying and planting flowers and greenery, volunteers are watering, weeding and mulching the plants; keeping the immediate area free of leaves and litter; and washing the signs if needed.
Julie Lloyd, chair of the DBC, said: “We have asked volunteers to raise their hands and get them a little dirty, so to speak, to make a positive difference for their Town, their family and their neighbors. Now 16 groups of Adopt-a-Sign volunteers are doing an awesome job.”
The DBC and Environmental Commission thank the following families, community groups and businesses who have already adopted a sign:
- Bartholomew Family
- Chaleff Family
- Cruz Family
- Facey Family
- Girl Scout Troop 42065
- Girl Scout Troop 40254
- Girl Scout Troop 40178
- Hagen Family
- JL Franchino Masonry
- Lawrence-DiLullo Family
- Manieri Family
- Ortega Family
- Scorzafava Family
- Thayer Family
- The Connell Company
- Varnerin Family
“This is a great initiative that combines environmental awareness for decorative, local flowers and plants with an opportunity for families to participate in a community service project together outdoors,” said Kim Diamond, a member of the Environmental Commission. “Volunteers appreciate the flexibility of their simple commitment, as they just perform their responsibilities when they have time.”
Check out the DBC Instagram page to see pictures of these plantings and signs. To learn more about the program check out the Township’s Downtown Beautification Committee and Environmental Commission web pages, or email DBC@bhtwp.com.
April 2, 2019
Residents Pick Up Everything and the Kitchen Sink at Adopt-A-Beach Clean-Up of Snyder Avenue and Snyder Avenue Park
TAPinto Berkeley Heights
BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – On Sunday, March 24, residents of all ages gathered at Snyder Avenue Park, put on pairs of reinforced gloves, and helped rid Berkeley Heights of approximately 150 pounds of litter through their participation in the Adopt-A-Beach Clean Water Challenge.
The group consisted of approximately 25 children and adults of all ages, including couples and families. One family even brought their dog, Coco, to make the event truly a family effort.
The event, which was a collaborative effort among Val’s Valiants, the Berkeley Heights Innovation and Sustainability Alliance (Sustainable Berkeley Heights), the Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission (BHEC), and the Berkeley Heights Downtown Beautification Committee (DBC), aimed to kick off spring and the spring sports season by ridding Snyder Avenue and Snyder Avenue Park of recyclables and trash that had been hibernating under the snow and leaves all winter.
Half the group tackled the wooded area behind the turf field at the park itself, while the other half cleaned both sides of Snyder Avenue between the park and the Bank of America Building, as well as the area along the bank of the Passaic River tributary near the bridge next to the Bank of America parking lot.
Visually, the amount of litter in certain places was shocking. According to Chloe Moon, one of the youngest participants, “It’s weird ’cause there’s so much paper everywhere.”
December 11, 2018
Val’s Valiants, Scout Pack 368, and BHEC Members Brave the Cold to Clean Up Locust Avenue
TAPinto Berkeley Heights
BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Braving the freezing temperatures on Sunday, December 9, members of Val’s Valiants and the Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission put on their reinforced gloves and led Cub Scouts and Scout members from Pack 368 to clean up litter along both sides of Locust Avenue, between Russo Place and Timber Drive.
The group of 10 consisted of five children, Sambhav Chaturvedi, Vibhav Chaturvedi, Valerie Diamond, Evan Harris, and Tyler Reed, as well as five adults, Tulika Chaturdevi, Kim Diamond, David Harris, Richard Leister, and Victoria Reed. Working together in teams of two and three, the group collectively gathered 36.3 pounds of litter – consisting of 29.7 pounds of recyclables and 6.6 pounds of trash – within just a 1-hour period.
“The small group who made it did quite a good job – especially . . . in light of the cold weather,” noted Victoria Reed.
Some of the more unique items that the group picked up included two sets of ear muffs, a belt, a scarf, and a metal stand from a candidate’s election sign. There was no shortage of beverage containers, cigarette butts, and thin film plastic bags, though. Among other items, the group collected a total of 30 plastic bottles, 28 glass bottles, 50 metal (beer and soda) cans, 41 cigarette butts, and 13 thin film plastic bags.
The particular stretch that the group cleaned is one notorious for being a “litter magnet.” Clean-ups were conducted on the same exact area both in the spring and in the fall. Yet, just a few weeks following the most recent clean-up, litter abounded – particularly in the wooded area adjacent to the street.
The clean-up effort was part of the New Jersey Clean Communities Council’s International Coastal Cleanup effort, which runs from September 15 – December 31, 2018. Through their efforts, those participating in Sunday’s clean-up joined thousands of volunteers globally in their efforts to rid litter from streams, lakes, rivers, bays, and beaches.
“It’s great that people of all ages are taking an active interest in keeping our town clean, and are actually coming out to do something about it” said Valerie Diamond, leader of Val’s Valiants and junior at Governor Livingston High School. “Pack 368 and Val’s Valiants have already agreed to work together this spring so that more of these clean-ups happen. It just shows that no matter how old you are, you can make a difference.”