Lessons Learned in New Jersey
By Nicole Gravedoni
A new difference between Missouri and New Jersey strikes me every day. Some differences are causing me to favor the bustling coastal life over my quiet midwestern upbringing.
For instance, recycling. Recycling is not mandatory in the midwestern states that I am familiar with. My family generates one bag of trash every day. This leads to three full trashcans per week. Much of this trash is recyclable aluminum, plastic, and paper. The rest could probably be compost material. The nearest recycling bin is four miles away and it only accepts local newspapers. After that the closest places are 30 and 55 miles away. In the town I live in, recycling is something that you learn about in grade school but never practice at home simply because the means are not readily available. This is definitely something that needs to be improved upon. I am impressed with New Jersey's recycling programs and the incentives offered by some cities.
Another thing I have noticed that impresses me is the environmental awareness in New Jersey. The first thing I noticed was people slowing down for turtles. I have never hit a turtle myself, but I have been in vehicles while it has happened more than once. Seeing dead snapping, common map, and ornate box turtles is not uncommon.
If I am with someone who swerves to avoid a turtle the common statement is Turtle shells are hard on tires. In New Jersey, people are aware of the massive affect road kills have on the population. Most people do not avoid turtles on the roadways for the safety of their vehicle, but for the safety of the turtle and the eggs she is carrying.
Being in New Jersey is giving me a new understanding of teaching and doing. Recycling is taught and practiced. Environmental education is applied for the good of salt marshes, diamondback terrapins, horseshoe crabs, shorebirds, etc. This is a lesson I will take with me to college. I have already talked to the campus coordinator about more environmental events, Earth Day celebrations, and a campus-wide recycling program. Thanks for the help, New Jersey!