GIVING BACK: Big Changes Start Small
While there’s certainly been a lot of progress, when it comes to plastic reuse and recycling, the United States still has some work to do. According to the National Geographic Society, shoppers in the USA use almost one plastic bag per day, compared to Denmark, where, on average, residents use four plastic bags per year. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency reports the USA only recycles 9% of its plastic, leaving plenty of room for improvement.
Meanwhile, around 18 billion pounds of plastic end up in oceans around the globe every year. Luckily, big problems don’t always require big resources to solve. Driven individuals willing to nurture their local community can drastically reduce our carbon footprint.
Year after year, Structure Tone’s New Jersey team commits their time and energy to local environmental charities, contributing to sustainable practices and conservation.
“We choose organizations we can be hands-on with,” says Rosarie Grskovic, STNJ office manager, who organizes and coordinates the events. “It feels great to be able to work outside and get our hands dirty.”
CLEAN OCEAN BEACH SWEEP
For the last two years, STNJ has participated in the annual Clean Ocean Beach Sweep, held at 60 locations from Bergen County to Cape May. An amazing 32 employees and their families attended the 34th annual Beach Sweep in 2019, which attracted over 600 volunteers who collectively amassed:
- 15,068 plastic pieces
- 12,344 food/candy wrappers
- 7,570 plastic caps and lids
- 5,366 straws
- 2,939 foam products
THE GREATER NEWARK CONSERVANCY
Urban farms are a sustainable source of food by cutting the use of fossil fuel consumption. They also bring healthier food options to neighborhoods that don’t often have access.
In 2016, the NJ team weeded, planted and put their construction skills to use by building a shed for the Greater Newark Conservancy’s Urban Farm. The space was transformed from a vacant lot awaiting construction to a community sanctuary, utilized by locals to plant fruits, veggies and roots. The 2.5-acre farm is now home to rows and rows of produce and over 75 fruit trees—all pesticide free.
NEW JERSEY AUDOBON SOCIETY
For Earth Day celebrations over the years, ST New Jersey and The Audubon Society teamed up to host a bird walk, movie night fundraiser and waterless carwash. Families enjoyed familiarizing themselves with local birds and wildlife on a nippy day at DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst, NJ. Operations admin, Carmen Nieves, recalls the effect the walk had on her son:
“I remember him asking a lady about the name of a bird—I think it was ‘Killdeer’ because I found it funny that he thought a bird could kill a deer,” she says. “He had fun exploring with the other children and being outside. He still points out any type of bird that seems different when we are out, which I just realized may stem from that outing.”
The movie fundraiser screened Dr. Suess’ The Lorax, a tale that reflects the effect of real-world greed on the environment. Project accountant, Susan Borthwick, said her daughter, Julie, “really enjoyed the viewing party and meeting other Structure Tone kids, and the movie really inspired her to take better care of the environment.”
A cleaner and healthier home is not the only benefit of giving back. Structure Tone’s New Jersey family has taken advantage of these volunteer opportunities as a way to connect with nature and the community.
“At the end of the day, we feel a great sense of accomplishment,” says Meghann Riordan, prequalification coordinator. “I would definitely not think twice before volunteering again.”