By KAYLA J. MARSH
MIDDLETOWN — Township officials are seeking funds that would be used towards increasing public awareness about sustainability within the township.
At its Feb. 16 meeting, the Township Committee passed a resolution supporting the submission of a $20,000 Sustainable Jersey Small Grants Program application.
If approved, the funding would go towards the production of 12 “Go Green” Public Service Ads (PSA), which would provide tips to residents on topics such as the benefits of backyard composting and how to properly dispose of recyclables.
“The idea actually came from the township’s Green Team,” said Amy Sarrinikolaou, director of community development for the township.
“We were brainstorming ideas as to what would make a good grant application for the most recent round of funding from the program, and a few of the members had ideas with similar themes of how to better inform residents of properly disposing of recyclables and other sustainable topics.
“From these ideas, we thought about taking advantage of the township’s cable television station to produce PSAs covering the different topics and then making them compatible … to reach a wider audience.”
According to Sarrinikolaou, the production of the PSAs falls under the Sustainable Jersey action “Community Education and Outreach,” and would assist the township in increasing its points to receive silver certification with the Sustainable Jersey program.
“We need to recertify by June, but we currently have bronze certification and have at least 200 points so far, and our goal is to get silver certification [which is 350 points] and this will definitely be qualified as an action towards us getting silver,” she said.
Sarrinikolaou said if the township is awarded the grant in late March, two main expense categories would need to be considered when creating the proposed PSAs.
“It is very expensive to produce video clips like this,” Sarrinikolaou said.
“Middletown Township does not have the capability to film PSAs in-house, so equipment rental will be required and, if we are awarded the grant, we would hire a video production consultant, who will be tasked with producing the videos.
“We will work closely with the video production consultant in developing topics, writing scripts, finding talent … to create the PSAs with a local focus customized to the needs of township residents.”
The “Go Green” PSAs will originally run on the township’s cable television station and then be placed on the township’s website and social media sites for easy access for the township’s approximately 67,000 residents.
“To make this project more sustainable the township’s Department of Public Works is working with a new solid waste recycling consultant who is developing ideas on how to clarify the information that gets out to residents in regards to recycling,” Sarrinikolaou said.
“Whether it is about what can be recycled or about not placing recycling in plastic bags … this change will provide the township with an opportunity to enhance revenues … and paralleling this effort with the PSAs will allow us to increase public awareness and participation in our recycling programs.”
Sarrinikolaou said that, depending on the complexity of the productions, assistance could come from students in High School North’s Film/TV program, who would gain community service and experience through their participation, and the Green Team will also work with the Middletown Arts Center, utilizing its existing network of actors and actresses.
“The township has made some great improvements in regards to the ease of availability of public information on the website … but we need to better promote sustainable behavior at the municipal level,” Sarrinikolaou said.
“It is a great program and I don’t think any other township has produced these types of public service announcements, so it is a very unique project and I think is a great way to increase public awareness about sustainability overall.”