By ERIN ROLL
Montclair has encouraged at least two dozen businesses to sign up for its sustainable business program, and the township hopes that others will join later on in the year.
As of last week, at least 23 businesses had enrolled in the program, according to Gray Russell, the township’s sustainability officer. And the goal is to invite additional businesses to join, with help from MSU students.
The project has been in the works for a year and a half, and is a joint effort between Montclair and the PSE&G Institute for Sustainability Studies at Montclair State University.
Over the past year, students from MSU have visited Montclair businesses to ask about their environmental practices and invite them to apply for green business certification.
Participating businesses must demonstrate that they are fulfilling a certain number of requirements, such as using recycled products, encouraging customers to bring reusable cups when they come to get coffee, installing energy-efficient lighting, and so forth. Businesses in the program are given a leaf-shaped cling decal to display in their window.
Some of the steps frequently taken by the participating businesses, according to a list provided by Russell, include installing energy-efficient lighting, using recycled packing material and paper goods, installing low-flow toilets in restrooms and hiring staff from local schools and colleges.
The businesses currently on the registry are in the Bloomfield Avenue corridor and Church Street; the Upper Montclair business area; the Valley Road business area south of Watchung Avenue; Watchung Plaza and the Walnut Street business area.
Russell said the township is considering having the certification be valid for three years.
At some point, students from MSU will do a follow-up survey, both to identify new businesses and to check in with businesses already on the registry.
When asked about the timeline for the next survey, Russell said he expected it would be sometime this fall, after classes at MSU have resumed, or next spring.