Thursday, June 28, 2018

New Jersey Recycling Pioneer, Jean Clark, dies at 95

NJ recycling pioneer Jean Clark
The New Jersey recycling community mourns the death, on June 24, of Jean Clark, 95, widely regarded as the state's 'Mother of Recycling.

Clark, in the 1970s, developed one of the first community recycling centers in her hometown of Montclair. It soon became a model for municipal and county recycling programs that followed statewide--and nationwide.
"Jean was a true recycling pioneer," said Guy Watson president of the Association of New Jersey Recyclers (ANJR) and former recycling chief at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP). "Her efforts were crucial to the development and passage of legislation that made our state the first in the nation to require the curbside separation and recycling of household paper, glass and metal." 

ANJR Executive Director Marie Kruzan said: “I was fortunate to know and learn from Jean for over 30 years.  As a newbie in recycling, Jean guided me, in her quiet way, sharing her knowledge and understanding. Jean may have been quiet, but she held strong views and was not shy about sharing her opinion and experience. We all are better for knowing and working with Jean."

Clark received many awards: “Recycler of the Year” from the National Recycling Congress (1980), “Recycler of the Decade” (1980) from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the New Jersey Pride Award in the field of Environment (1986), and the Wells College Alumnae Association Award, (2000). Groups she was part of were often more effective than flashy, such as the Essex County Solid Waste Advisory Council.

Clark graduated from Wells College in Aurora, New York in 1945, and took a M.A. in Philosophy from Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. She championed women’s colleges, but made an adjustment to her worldview when men were admitted at Wells College a few years ago.

Clark's single-minded devotion sometimes made her an inadvertent pioneer. In 1970, the New Jersey Audubon Society felt there should be at least one woman on the Board, so they made her the Secretary. “Someone to take the notes,” she recalled. Being the only woman in a room full of men did not faze her, and she was soon joined on the board by other women. She served the organization for more than 30 years

Former NJDEP Chief of Staff Gary Sondermeyer said: "Jean was the true “Founder” of the recycling movement in New Jersey and a total inspiration – her legacy most certainly lives on with a reputation beyond reproach."

"I feel blessed to have been inspired by Jean's determination, motivated by her actions and encouraged to make a difference based on her efforts." said Sussex County Recycling Coordinator Renee Casapulla." Jean's wit and contagious laughter will always warm my heart."

Related videos:

Jean Clark Recycling Pioneer (August) 2010 New Jersey Recycling Pioneers Jean Clark and Mary Sheil

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