Maplewood Green Fair Teaches Environmental Responsibility
Saturday, April 28, 2012 • 10:08pm
MAPLEWOOD, NJ - There were plenty of environmental displays and demonstrations at the Fifth Annual Maplewood Green Day Fair on April 28 at Maplewood's Memorial Park. Fairgoers could learn how to compost waste or learn about efforts to clean up the nearby Rahway River and protect its watershed. This ecological fair, or "eco-fair," is one of the biggest events of its kind in New Jersey.
Efforts to promote environmental responsibility on a local basis were represented by groups such as Maplewood Is Green, which promoted an initiative making electrical usage monitors available at the township's libraries, and the Maplewood Environmental Action Committee (MEAC) , a civic group that advises local officials on numerous "green" issues. Committee member Al Kuehn said that one of MEAC's more recent successes was being instrumental in the passage of a revised tree ordinance.
"[Maplewood] passed an ordinance where we put a limit on the kind of trees that can be taken down," Kuehn explained. He said that the ordinance aims to preserve trees by requiring a permit for the removal of any tree one foot in diameter and more than four to five feet above ground level. An arborist is also on duty to check for damage to trees and recommend care or removal, as well as to preserve trees of endangered species.
The Hilton branch of the Maplewood Library, on Springfield Avenue, took advantage of the Green Day Fair to promote a "rain garden" being planned for the landscape around it. Rain gardens are terraced gardens of native plants designed to collect storm runoff that would otherwise go into storm sewers and carry contaminants and pollutants into waterways. When the Hilton Library rain garden is completed, it will divert up to 160,000 gallons of rain water generated every year from the library's parking lot and roof, absorbing pollutants and breaking them down. The native plants are to include dogwood trees, St. John's wort, and goldenrods.
The Liberty Science Center ran an educational booth to show how runoff is generated, and it also featured an exhibit on the biodegradability of plastic and how can take up to 500 years to break down. Despite plastic only having been generated in the years following the Second World War, it already accounts for 11.7 percent of landfill content. Among the private eco-businesses represented at the fair was Pur2o, a water filtration firm marketing purification systems that are installed in homes and operated by water pressure in pipes rather than by electricity. Not only do they save energy, they make the water much healthier to drink, ridding it of contaminants such as rust and chlorine. Pur2o's Mizar Turdiu said that her firm's products are in big demand from the wellness industry.
"We work with holistic practitioners, integrative healing folks, nutritionists, dieticians, people like that," Turdiu said. She counted the nutritionist for the New York Jets as one of her firm's clients.
Activities for the children included a petting zoo, a rock wall climb, and storytelling. One of the more charming shows for children was staged by Bash the Trash, a music collective performing with musical instruments they made from discarded materials. They played a horn made from a pipe and a funnel and a guitar box made from a styrofoam container and rubber band - along with a "styrolin," a violin made from the same materials as the guitar box. Dave Street performed a series of singalongs for children in an interactive workshop that, among other things, demonstrated the effects of littering and showed how aluminum cans can be recycled to make new cans and use 90 percent less energy than making a can from raw aluminum. He also showed how plastics can be recycled into everything from T-shirts to synthetic wood.
The Green Day Fair also featured a good deal of musical entertainment from groups like the Dave Easton Band, giving fairgoers a taste of the annual Maplewoodstock festival scheduled for July.