Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Students in school districts throughout Morris County are encouraged to go green this spring by participating in a countywide litter cleanup effort that targets their own school grounds.

2014 poster contest winners

2014 poster contest winners Corinne Troccoli, Morris Knolls HS (top left) Sammi Chan, Morris Hills HS (top right) Claire Anderson, Ridgedale Middle School (lower right) Madison O’Donnell, West Morris Central HS (lower left)

Public schools, including grades 6 and up, in Morris County that participate are eligible for a “Keep Morris County Litter Free” grant from the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority, which is sponsoring this program.  In addition to a cleanup effort, the “Litter Free’’ program includes a countywide poster contest, with prizes.

“We are confident these two ‘green’ projects will raise awareness about both litter abatement and recycling, and encourage students to become more environmentally conscious about where they live – whether it be their school, their home, local parks, or even their part-time work places,’’ said Liz Sweedy, Morris County coordinator for Clean Communities Program, which is administered by the Morris County MUA.

“This is a great opportunity to reinforce how important it is for them to care for their own environment, and will show how it also improves our communities and our entire county,’’ added Freeholder Christine Myers, who is the county governing board’s liaison to the MUA.

“Keep Morris County Litter Free” is part of the “Slam Dunk the Junk” statewide initiative sponsored by the New Jersey Clean Communities Council, which focuses on conducting litter cleanups, enforcing anti-litter regulations and changing the attitudes of “litterbugs” through education.

To qualify for the grant, a public school must conduct a litter cleanup on at least two acres of school grounds, which may include ball fields and wooded areas, between April 15 and June 6, Sweedy said. A minimum of 20 students and their adult supervisors much participate in each cleanup.

A 2010 contest winner

A 2010 contest winner

After the cleanup is done and required paperwork has been reviewed by the MUA, the participating school will receive a $500 grant to purchase outdoor receptacles for recyclables or trash, or indoor receptacles for recyclables only, Sweedy said.

During last year’s litter-free effort, 495 students and adult supervisors from 13 schools cleaned 148 acres and collected 45 bags of trash, 52 bags of recyclables, 66 lbs of scrap metal and 56 lbs of construction debris.

Morris Hills High School teacher Frank Cappuccio, who also is advisor for the school’s environmental club, said his students have expanded their cleanup by also choosing to target local areas that are strewn with litter debris, and restoring them to their natural beauty.

“We have found old car parts, pallets, construction material, parts of beds, couches, and other stuff that people have just dumped in the woods,’’ said Cappuccio. “Once that material is removed and brought to the proper place (trash or recycling center), the woods become peaceful again … as they were meant to be.  Our students love nature and our school really appreciates working with the MUA in keeping Morris County litter free.’’

A second and optional component of the grant program is a school-run poster contest for Morris County public school students in grades 6-12. The county-wide winners get a $200 gift certificate and have their posters replicated on a recycling receptacle for their schools, Sweedy said.

Last year’s poster contest winners were Jolie Chow and Veronika Hammond, both of Morris Hills High School; Kate Rivera of Morris Knolls High School; and Cristian van Rossen of the Mount Arlington Public School.

To see previous winners, visit: http://mcmua.com/sw_cc.slamdunkthejunk.asp

A school may participate exclusively in the poster contest or in conjunction with the cleanup, but it must conduct a litter cleanup to earn the $500.

MUA

An application packet is available online at http://mcmua.com/docs/2016%20Slam%20Dunk%20Junk%20Forms%20.pdf

The applications must be received by April 8. Additional information may be obtained by calling Sweedy at 973-285-8393.

Schools that have participated in the program in prior years include 15 high schools: Butler, Dover, Jefferson, Hanover Park, Madison, Morris Hills, Morris Knolls, Mountain Lakes, Morristown, Morris County School of Technology, Parsippany, Parsippany Hills, Randolph, West Morris Central and Whippany Park.

Other participants have been Borough School, Morris Plains; Black River Middle School, Chester Township; Copeland Middle School, Rockaway Township; East Hanover Middle School; Frelinghuysen Middle School, Morris School District; John Hill School, Boonton; Lazar Middle School, Montville; Mount Arlington Public School; Randolph Middle School; Ridgedale Middle School, Florham Park; Riverdale School; Thomas Jefferson School, Morris School District; Valleyview Middle School, Denville; and Unity Charter School, Morristown.