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Earth Day is Every Day in Union County
by Angel G. Estrada
Chairman, Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders

Union County residents are joining with people all across the country to celebrate Earth Day, and Arbor Day, too. It’s a fitting time to celebrate the many ways that we care for our environment all year round.

Open space preservation is a time-honored tradition in Union County. In the 1920’s, we were among the first counties in the United States to preserve natural areas by establishing a county park system. To this day, County residents have overwhelmingly supported adding more land to preserve and protect. We’ve added more than 300 acres in just the past seven years.

Keeping household chemicals out of the environment is another longstanding effort in Union County. Every year, many residents use our hazardous waste recycling programs to dispose of used batteries, aerosol cans, motor oil, oil-based paints, pesticides, solvents, home electronics and other products. You can find out more about hazardous waste recycling by contacting your town or visiting the County web site, www.ucnj.org/recycle.

Our popular Trailside Nature and Science Center in the Watchung Reservation has been a wonderful resource for County residents of all ages to enjoy learning about the delicate balance of nature. It was recently renovated and expanded, and we’ve also added a traveling eco-van to bring more environmental programming to schools.

This year, the Freeholder Board introduced the new Go Green initiative to step up the County’s environmental efforts and prepare the way for even more improvement in the future. The initiative includes conforming County construction and renovation projects to the highest LEED standards for green buildings, switching to more recycled paper, and distributing grants for environmental projects in schools.

Public outreach is also part of Go Green, and we’re starting off by conducting an environmental education event for County employees on Earth Day.

As a group, these programs add up to a strong platform for further action.

Individually, households throughout Union County have also been building their own platforms for action. For many of us, “going green” is a familiar, thrifty habit that just makes common sense. Trading yard tools with a neighbor, saving leftover food for another meal, or turning off lights in empty rooms are just a few examples.

By appreciating our mindful habits, and continuing to develop and improve upon them, we can all make every day a celebration of the earth on which we live.