Please note: masks and social distance required for in-person activities.

Put “Choose to Reuse” on your 2021 To-Do List

For a simple, easy way to make a big difference, bring reusable grocery bags to the supermarket, and skipping single-use bags.

Single-use grocery bags have become notorious symbols of waste and litter. They pollute waterways and harm wildlife and marine animals, which often mistake them for food.

Whether made of paper or plastic, single-use grocery bags consume vast amounts of energy and raw materials, but they are only used for about 12 minutes on average. They are easily torn or damaged, which prevents them from being reused even once.

Here are some additional facts about plastic bags:*

*Source: The Center for Biological Diversity


Keep an eye out for the invasive spotted lanternfly and its egg sacs! If you spot one, kill it and report the sighting by email (with photo, if possible) to Rutgers NJAES at
Sightings should also be reported to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.


Please note: In-person activities are limited due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The following online resources are suggested: 
Visit Union County’s Trailside Nature and Science Center online at for a list of recommended environmental activities. Participants can start a nature journal, join a citizen-scientist campaign, share their backyard nature photographs with Trailside, and share their observations with other scientists around the country. Worksheets, weekly bird-themed activities, zoo cams and science experiments for preschoolers are included on the list. 

The Union County Falcon Cam continues to stream live from the peregrine falcon nest on the roof of the County Courthouse in midtown Elizabeth, at For additional wildlife cams, podcasts, videos and more, visit the County’s falcon education partner, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Union County’s “Make One Change UC” campaign encourages residents to make simple, everyday choices that help reduce single-use plastic waste, in support of the statewide Choose to Reuse initiative. Learn more about single-use plastic bag recycling by watching a PBS News Hour video hosted by the Union County Bureau of Recycling and Planning at

Residents can explore the Recycle Coach app, a free download that provides up-to-date news and information about recycling in every Union County community. Available for all mobile devices, Recycle Coach includes interactive animated videos and more.

The Freeholder Board also supports the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County as part of the statewide Rutgers Cooperative Extension network. The Extension is offering online programs for all ages including the popular 4-H clubs and “Earth Day Every Day” series. For more details visit


Did you know…?

The average plastic bag is used for only 12 minutes, but it can linger in the environment for decades and even centuries.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. consumes more than 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps every year.

Act locally, help globally:

Bring reusable bags to the grocery store instead of taking single-use plastic bags. Keep a tote or two by the door or stow them in your car, so you always have one handy.


Pro Tip:Your local recycler will reject containers that are mixed with plastic bags. Find out why, by watching a video at

Carry items from your kitchen to the recycling bin in a reusable bag, tub or basket instead of using a disposable bag.