‘I found leading the Environmental Commission very rewarding’

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Roger Plew spent 14 years as a member of the Environmental Commission. He served as chairman for 13 of those years.

Due to family commitments, he stepped down at the end of last year. He was recognized with a proclamation at a Bordentown Township Committee meeting in January.

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And although he stepped down, he remains active with the Environmental Commission as a Green Team member. The Green Team is resident volunteers that help the Environmental Commission with their events and Sustainable Jersey actions.

PHOTO BY KATHY CHANG/STAFF Roger Plew was recognized with a proclamation for his longtime service on the Environmental Commission at a Bordentown Township Committee meeting in January.

Plew shared his highlights throughout the years as part of the Environmental Commission. He was appointed to the commission in 2010 and was then appointed as chairman the next year.

How did you become involved in the Environmental Commission?

I have always had an interest in supporting my community and working with my community to help improve my community wherever I may have been living. I had been appointed as a township representative to the Bordentown sewage authority from 1993 to 1999. I was not reappointed due to political change on the committee. In 2010, I was speaking with then Mayor Bruce Hill and asked about any openings in any commissions or boards, short of actually running for a political office. [I had] no interest in running for political office. He appointed me to the Environmental Commission, the Planning Board and the Zoning Board. After two years, I resigned from the zoning board as being on all three was taking up a lot of time given the work I was doing on the Environmental Commission. I spent seven years on the planning board and resigned to concentrate on my home life and the Environmental Commission. In 2010, then chairman Karl Feltus mentioned they always wanted to have a shredder day. I told him I would run with it to put together a shredder day if I had the township’s permission, which I was given. I went out to local businesses and found five willing to donate $100 each to sponsor a shredder event. We then held our first Shredder Day July 2010.

Feltus, who was elected as a township committeeman, recommended Plew as chairman. In 2012 the Township Committee, by resolution, agreed to participate in New Jersey’s Sustainable Jersey program. This is where we complete various actions for points and become Sustainable Jersey certified. There is a bronze level certification a silver level certification and now there is a gold level certification. I continued to provide a shredder day each year and through the various action created the township’s community garden. I obtained donations from Ocean Spray for food grade barrels for rain barrels and fencing from Home Depot. They stepped in and donated $1,600 of fencing and I got Timothy’s Garden Center to donate all our plants for the first three years.

Both the Community Garden and Shredder Days have been tremendous successes. Shredder days were expanded to two days.

We shred between 7,000 and 9,000 pounds of paper at each event, as the “green thing” was becoming popular. Through the Sustainable Jersey actions we created our zero waste program where we recycle items that would not be recycled such as oral care, products, which includes toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, floss, containers, plastic bags, and we recently added candy wrappers that would normally go into the landfills. I also went to Chesterfield’s Environmental Commission and coordinated working with them holding Green Fairs, which we now do with Bordentown City.

I’ve always had interest as I said working with my community and helping my community and the Environmental Commission gave me that outlet to proceed with that desire. Our community garden now produces anywhere from 800 to 900 pounds of produce, which we donate to local food banks and churches. We now also provide rental plots for residences who would like a garden, but don’t have the room so they can have a plot in our garden and plant their own produce. I saw the commission through to our first Sustainable Jersey bronze certification (150 points) and subsequently to our first Sustainable Jersey silver certification (350 points). We also have held several community cleanups at the various parks and locations within the township and working with New Jersey’s Watershed ambassadors we held water testing sessions mostly in Bossert Park Creek.

I found leading the Environmental Commission very rewarding and several programs we implemented are going strong today. We collect approximately 1,000 to 1,500 pounds of plastic bags a year and 150 to 250 pounds of candy wrappers along with 100 to 200 pounds of oral care recycling.

Plew had started a “Zero Wast Recycling” campaign of plastic bags, candy wrappers and oral care through the Trex Recycling program.

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