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  • Raghav Akula

100% Electric School Busses Within the Next Decade

The Sierra Club, both statewide and nationally, has been working around the clock.

The Transportation Committee of the NJ chapter has set a goal of trying to reach 100% electric school buses within the next decade. Right now, it’s looking for high school students who are willing to lobby their local Boards of Education and administrators to replace their diesel school buses with battery-electric ones. There's already an electric school bus pilot program in 3 NJ districts, and we're hoping more districts join the movement so we can promote healthier, environmentally friendly, and less costly modes of transportation for schools. The implications that removing diesel buses will have — from better air quality to lower long-term costs to swift climate action — are enormous and hard to understate.

Last year, Governor Murphy signed into law what will become the nation’s most comprehensive plastics bill. On November 4, 2021, ​​food service businesses will only be allowed to provide a single-use plastic straw to a customer upon their request. Beginning on May 4, 2022, all stores and restaurants will be prohibited from selling or providing their customers with single-use plastic carryout bags. In addition, grocery stores larger than 2,500 square feet will not be permitted to provide or sell single-use paper carryout bags either, and instead can only sell reusable ones. The NJ Sierra Club knows that it’s vitally important that municipalities, businesses, and individuals are prepared for the transition, and is actively trying to raise awareness and promote the cause for a healthier environment.

On the national level, the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign is in full swing, with thousands of activists taking part across the country. The goal is to pressure municipalities to commit to 100% clean energy, and the fight has quickly escalated as Congress considers two massive infrastructure packages, which have major implications for federal climate action. The Sierra Club has urged activists everywhere to try to submit letters to the editor to their local newspapers to advocate for the climate provisions in Congress and press their representatives to vote in favor of the packages. Clean energy proponents are submitting letters across the state — and indeed across the nation — and our representatives are listening.

Lastly, I was deeply inspired by a quote from famous climate activist Edgar McGregor: “In my view, keeping your local parks free of trash is one of the most concrete, individually beneficial, and immediately rewarding actions one can take to get themselves involved in environmentalism.” I took this doctrine to heart as I participated in two local cleanups over the past couple of

weeks. The first was organized by Cherry Hill’s Environmental Board for National Public Lands Day and involved cleaning up popular trails, trimming tree branches, and cutting down trees that were devastated by the invasive spotted lanternfly. The second, organized through the service-based nonprofit Sewa International, entailed simply walking around my community to pick up trash and litter, which, as Edgar described, felt “immediately rewarding.”

There’s no shortage of ways to get involved in the environmental movement, and right now, we’re finding ourselves in one of the most exciting times to be alive for climate action and environmental justice. We have to make it count. Join the fight:

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