In conclusion, New Jersey is actually in a good position to improve its growth and environment, simultaneously, by strongly considering and then implementing an expanded version of its already-announced sense of a green economy. We already have one of the best green economies in the United States, but need to do much, much better.
New Jersey should become the leading state in reducing carbon emissions, saving water, and pushing green energy sources, and can get there, and more, in part through pursuing a green economy. Over time, New Jersey can increase both the scope of a green economy, by increasing the number of business sectors participating in it; and the depth, by increasing the amount and dedication to green economy practices by these sectors.
Such a pursuit of green economy practices by business sectors would be complemented, both directly and indirectly, by certain public policies, including but not limited to K-12 education.
If the State of New Jersey pursues the integration of its economy and environment towards a green economy, we could set a framework for other states, perhaps eventually our country, and even other countries to replicate and build on our practices.
While this Paper is not primarily a Policy document, certain policies would complement the changing nature of this economic re-gearing. In some cases, the policy would directly enhance how businesses increasingly take the environment into consideration; in other cases the effects would be indirect or even long-term (such as when kids grow up).
A new report should be conducted to value New Jersey’s natural capital since it has been over ten years since the original report the State did (see the “Sustainable Business and Triple Bottom Line” section-above). There are several ways the old report could be improved upon. One way would be to utilize the expanded knowledge and experience of valuing natural capital by seeing how other countries value their natural capital. Another way would be to consider the climatic effects New Jersey has already experienced, such as during Hurricane Sandy, and incorporate what has been learned from that. Additionally, an updated natural capital report could consider market distortions – besides externalities – such as the effects subsidies have on our environment through the distortions they create, such as subsidies affecting over- development at our shores. Of course, it is not enough to then just know these values; it has to be incorporated into governmental and market decision-making.
The way we currently get our food creates a lot of waste, including (but not limited to) the packaging of food, to the plastic bags we bring our food home in. One major way to reduce a part of the food waste problem would be through a new state policy to allow retail stores to sell expired foods that are still safe to eat. European countries have already taken the lead on this so the Governor’s staff might consider looking into what they have done to see what can be transposed to New Jersey, and how mistakes could be avoided. Additionally, it would be useful to explore how legal issues could be minimized if stores do this (up until the point that the food actually has spoiled).
While looking abroad, the Governor’s staff could also consider following the lead of European and other countries to institute a plastic bag ban. This would not be popular since it is inconvenient, which is why the push to use reusable bags at ShopRite stopped. To address packaging waste, the Governor could consider promoting package-free grocery stores or bulk sections in larger stores. Many people are unfamiliar with this concept of bringing and filling your own containers. It could help if educational advertising campaigns show how to bulk shop and where to find stores which offer it.
New Jersey should expand the Jersey Fresh Program to include a program for organic or regeneratively-grown foods.
The Governor should consider reopening the Office of Sustainable Business, or creating something similar in an existing office, in order to help guide businesses in New Jersey to be more sustainable in an increasing number of ways. The Governor’s staff could ask the NJSBC for advice on what a governmental office to help businesses become more sustainable could look like and what it should do.
New Jersey has already proposed “the ‘Fair Repair Act,’ a bill that would require electronics manufacturers to sell replacement parts and tools to the general public and independent repair companies. It would also require them to make repair guides publicly available” (Koebler, 2017). It was introduced and referred to the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee last June. Its passage should be accelerated.
The Appendix II section has many more recommendations, particularly if the idea of pursuing an even greener economy becomes attractive.