STAR Neighborhood Action Items

The following action items were designed to make your neighborhood a STAR Neighborhood: Sustainable, Together and Resilient.

Action items are organized within one of six focus areas: People, Energy, Water, Land, Air, and Consumption, each of which has its own goal. As you review the action items, remember to consider each as an outreach, seminar, or implementation activity.

Our actions are simply suggestions. You are more than welcome to propose any other action that meets a focus area goal.

Finally, remember that every STAR action is eligible for funding from the mini-grant program. All registered neighborhoods are encouraged to apply!


GOAL: To prepare neighbors for climate change.

People action items build and strengthen a neighborhood community. Some actions strengthen social bonds. Others prepare the community to withstand the extreme weather events that are predicted with climate change.

Host a Neighborhood Gathering — Required to Start.

Social glue is necessary for every sustainable neighborhood effort. Plan a bike parade, block party, wine tasting or cook-out — pick what works for your area and have fun getting to know your neighbors! No estimated expenses.*

Establish Your Leadership & Goals — Required to Start.

Meet with neighbors to determine your community’s goals and starting actions. Define your leaders, ensure they represent the diversity of your neighborhood, and define your future STAR Neighborhoods meeting schedule. No estimated expenses.*

Develop a Neighborhood Communications Network — Required to Start.

Identify all neighbors and define potential forms of communication (e.g., social media or phone and email trees) so you can effectively communicate with and assist each other during adverse events. No estimated expenses.*

Join the Neighborhood Buddy Initiative — Priority Action.

Identify neighbors at risk and encourage members of the community to take on the task of checking in with these neighbors during emergency events, providing support, and connecting them as needed to professional services. Learn more. No estimated expenses.*

Make Your Neighborhood Emergency Responsive — Priority Action.

Encourage all of your neighbors to register to receive alerts about emergencies and other important community news, while also identifying those who may need assistance in the event of a major disaster through the Princeton Prepares’ Extra Assistance Registry. No estimated expenses.*

Gain a CERT-Trained Neighbor

Support at least one member of your neighborhood in attending training to learn emergency preparedness skills so that person can assist our first responders as a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member. No estimated expenses.*

Prepare and Distribute Resiliency Kits

Experts recommend that every resident store water, canned foods, a battery-operated radio, flashlight, first aid kit, and more. To help all of your neighbors be better prepared, compile and distribute resiliency kits. Potential expenses include resiliency kit supplies.*

Be a Small Group That Changes the World

Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Now’s your chance! Find an unsustainable action within town, and work together to voice your opinion and find a solution. No estimated expenses.*

* Note: All action expenses are eligible for our mini-grant program.  This includes the expenses noted above plus potential printing fees for any promotional flyers.


GOAL: To transition to energy use that is efficient, affordable, and/or renewable.

Energy action items primarily focus on energy-efficiency initiatives. By reducing energy needs, a homeowner reduces monthly utility bills and lowers their carbon footprint.

Promote Home Energy Audits — Priority Action.

Home energy audits are designed to identify the many ways your home could be made more energy efficient. Work with Sustainable Princeton to learn about best audit program for your neighborhood, and share the money-saving opportunities with your neighbors. Potential expenses include fees for home energy audits.*

Analyze Home Energy Usage — Priority Action.

Check out a wattmeter from Sustainable Princeton so you and your neighbors can learn about the energy used by your appliances, then make a plan to reduce your home energy use. No estimated expenses.*

Organize a Weatherization Workshop

From smart thermostats to duct sealing, invite a local hardware store or contractor to showcase products and projects to insulate homes against temperature extremes so your neighbors can work to lower their energy bills. Potential expenses include home weatherization materials.*

Host an Energy 101

Community solar, geothermal energy and green-e providers, oh my! Host an educational seminar about NJ’s energy system, and the latest opportunities to bring renewable energy to your neighborhood. Potential expenses include speaker fees.*

Lead an Energy Star Campaign

Encourage your neighbors to take the Energy Star Pledge to change energy behaviors, install energy-efficient appliances, and track energy usage, so everyone uses less energy and spends less money. No estimated expenses.*

Arrange a Green Building Seminar

Any type of building has the potential to become a green building, including those in your neighborhood. Host a speaker to educate your neighbors about the amazing technologies that allow homes to become carbon-free. No estimated expenses.*

Distribute Our Energy Incentives Catalog

Share Sustainable Princeton’s list of discounts, rebates, low-income programs and other financial incentives for making energy-efficient improvements. No estimated expenses.*

Walk for Efficient Light Bulbs

Go door-to-door educating your neighbors about the money saving advantages of LED over conventional light bulbs. Potential expenses include LED light bulbs.*

* Note: All action expenses are eligible for our mini-grant program.  This includes the expenses noted above plus potential printing fees for any promotional flyers.


GOAL: To treat water as a valuable resource.

Water action items help limit flooding or improve water quality. Some actions offer money-saving potential via a reduction in home water bills.

Tour Local Green Infrastructure Examples — Priority Action.

By retaining rainfall from small storms, green infrastructure reduces stormwater discharge and mitigates flood risk. Arrange to tour local rain gardens and other green infrastructure examples. How can your neighborhood or a local park incorporate these ideas? No estimated expenses.*

River-Friendly Neighborhood Drive — Priority Action.

Encourage your neighbors to join the Watershed Institute’s River-Friendly Certification Program. Learn how to reduce pollution, conserve water, restore habitat for wildlife and become better environmental stewards. No estimated expenses.*

Establish Healthier Stream Banks

Learn how you can protect vegetation and prevent erosion around neighborhood waterways and then organize your neighbors to act. By reducing flooding impacts, you can prevent damage to nearby homes. Potential expenses include native plants or seeds.*

Adopt Neighborhood Storm Drains

Identify your neighborhood’s storm drains and work together to rake the leaves and other debris away from the drain year-round. No estimated expenses.*

Sponsor a Rain Barrel Workshop

Free water for your neighborhood’s lawns! Hold a workshop to inform residents on how to install and maintain rain barrels, so your neighborhood gets to enjoy this benefit. Potential expenses include rain barrel kit supplies.*

Create a Clean-Up Crew

Every time it rains, litter and other unwanted debris wash into our streams, creating a rather undesirable mess in certain areas. Neighbors can help by committing to regular cleanup of a local waterway, field, or park. Potential expenses include gloves or other litter collection supplies.*

Lead a Leaky Faucet Repair Team

Build a team of neighborhood volunteers who can be contacted to repair leaky faucets, or arrange for a plumber to come and perform this service for the whole neighborhood at one time. Potential expenses include plumber services.*

* Note: All action expenses are eligible for our mini-grant program.  This includes the expenses noted above plus potential printing fees for any promotional flyers.


GOAL: To use properties to sustain life.

Land action items are designed to support wildlife. Some actions offer money-saving potential in surprising ways.

Increase your Neighborhood’s Low-Maintenance, Low-Mow Areas — Priority Action.

Low mow zones’ are mowed only a few times a year, allowing native plants and grasses to grow, saving you time and money while supporting wildlife. Potential expenses include native seeds or seedlings.*

Ask Your Landscaper to Make a Sustainable Switch Priority Action.

Encourage your neighbors who employ a landscape company for lawn mowing and/or landscape maintenance to have a conversation about sustainable lawn care practices with their landscaper. Some examples of sustainable switches include planting native groundcover, plants, or trees, mulching leaves, and building a leaf corral. Potential expenses include native seeds or seedlings or leaf corral supplies.*

Distribute Our Sustainable Landscaping Conversations Resources Priority Action.

Share Sustainable Princeton’s landscaping resources such as the Toolbook for Sustainable Landscaping Conversations which includes discussion points for your neighbors to share with their landscapers. Encourage your neighborhood to hire landscapers who value sustainable services and the health and safety of their workers. No estimated expenses.*

Pilot a ‘Leave Your Leaves’ Campaign

By leaving leaves on your property, you can enrich your soil, reduce water pollution, and prevent the town’s costly operation of picking up leaves. Encourage your neighbors to make this simple, cost-effective switch. Potential expenses include leaf corral materials.*

Create Wildlife-Friendly Yards

Rally your neighbors to enact wildlife-friendly yards that meet the goals of Certified Wildlife Habitat, Monarch Waystations, or a similar program. Potential expenses include native seeds or seedlings.*

Host a Backyard Compost, Gardening, or Homesteading Workshop

From victory gardens to honey bees to hens, host a seminar to explore the many ways to transform yards and community spaces into a source for delicious foods, or how you can turn your leaves and food scraps into nutritious fertilizer. Potential expenses include compost bin materials, garden seeds or seedlings, or other homesteading supplies.*

Compile a Neighborhood Tree Inventory

Compile a tree inventory, indicating plants on the “Do Not Plant” or “Native Tree” lists, to better appreciate the value of your neighborhood trees, identify current tree infestations, and be prepared for the next one. No estimated expenses.*

Establish an Invasive Removal Team

Identify NJ’s top ten invasive plants, determine where they exist in your neighborhood, and work with your neighbors to remove them. Potential expenses include any equipment needed for invasive removal.*

Alternative Pest Management

Host an educational workshop to inform neighbors of alternative, safe methods to pest management methods for both home and yard. Potential expenses include gardening supplies.*

* Note: All action expenses are eligible for our mini-grant program.  This includes the expenses noted above plus potential printing fees for any promotional flyers.


GOAL: To transition to methods to achieve clean air for all.

Air action items improve air quality. Low-carbon options for transportation and lawn maintenance help us all breathe easier and lower our carbon footprint.

Host an Electric Vehicle Showcase — Priority Action.

Invite a speaker to explain the benefits of electric transportation, while others display their electric cars, bikes, or scooters. Potential expenses include speaker fees.*

Build a Car Share Program or a Carpool Network — Priority Action.

Enjoy the benefits of using or riding in a car, without the cost of ownership! Invite a speaker to discuss carshares and carpools have already been brought to Princeton, and how they might work for your neighborhood. Potential expenses include speaker fees.*

Launch an Anti-Idling Campaign

Did you know that idling for more than 3 minutes is prohibited within NJ? Not only that, idling is unhealthy and “fuelish” — you may as well be burning dollar bills! Build a campaign to educate about these issues. No estimated expenses.*

Neighborhood Tree Planting

Hold an event for neighbors to work together to plant trees in yards or along the street to improve air quality and reduce stormwater runoff. Potential expenses include tree saplings.*

In-Home Air Quality Promotion

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that can’t be seen or smelled. It is a leading cause of lung cancer in the US. Encourage your neighbors to get test kits from the Health Department so everyone can breathe a little easier. No estimated expenses.*

Coordinate an Electric Lawn Equipment Demo

Invite neighbors to check out electric lawnmowers and help educate the community about landscaping companies that use electric equipment and the benefits of going electric. Potential expenses include lawn equipment and/or speaker fees.*

Establish Bike to Work/School Days

Work with your neighbors to designate more “Bike to School or Work Days” for your neighborhood. No estimated expenses.*

Participate in a Carbon Footprint Challenge

Research carbon footprint challenges and select one for your neighborhood. Establish goals and monitor your progress along the way. No estimated expenses.*

Determine Your Neighborhood’s Walkability and Bikeability

What could be done to increase your willingness to walk more or bike across our town? Consider your neighborhood for its ability to meet the town’s walking and biking goals and share your results with town leaders. No estimated expenses.*

* Note: All action expenses are eligible for our mini-grant program.  This includes the expenses noted above plus potential printing fees for any promotional flyers.


GOAL: To generate less waste and handle it properly.

Consumption action items reduce waste, strengthen resource recovery.  Actions that reduce consumption offer money-saving potential.

Host a Recycling 101 — Priority Action.

Plastic bags don’t belong in your curbside recycling bin, but clean ones can be upcycled through local grocery stores. Host a seminar that teaches your neighbors the ins and outs of the recycling world. Potential expenses include reusable shopping bags.*

Materials Collection Event Drives — Priority Action.

From hazardous waste to old electronics, the town organizes several special events to collect certain items. Educate your neighbors and find a driver for each event. That’s more waste getting properly handled, and less gas money spent to achieve that goal! No estimated expenses.*

Establish a Community Resource Library

What do you own that others in your neighborhood might love to borrow? A ladder, a pressure cooker, or a saw? Build a list of items that can be shared so your neighbors buy less and build more relationships. No estimated expenses.*

Organize a Hard-To-Recycle Collection

A surprising variety of items — chip bags, juice pouches, and old toothbrushes — can be upcycled if you organize and do it together! No estimated expenses.*

Host a Community Yard Sale / Donation Pickup

Encourage everyone to clear out their attic and host a neighborhood-wide yard sale. Make a little money while your item finds a new home, then donate anything left during one neighborhood-wide donation pickup. No estimated expenses.*

Make a Disposable Plastic Pledge

Have each neighbor choose one plastic item they can refuse — bags, take-out containers, straws — and together, strategize the best ways to make the transition towards a plastic-free life. Potential expenses include reusable water bottles, straws, etc.*

Demonstrate a Low-Waste Celebration

How low can you go? Save money when hosting an event by buying in bulk, focusing on homemade, and skipping disposable products. Inspire others to do the same and show just how easy it is to be a low-waste host. Potential expenses include a reusable neighborhood picnic kit.*

Sponsor a Neighborhood Repair Café

Bring your neighbors together to fix broken items and learn new skills from experts who can provide handy expertise. Potential expenses include service repair fees.*

* Note: All action expenses are eligible for our mini-grant program.  This includes the expenses noted above plus potential printing fees for any promotional flyers.

Don’t see the solution you have in mind?

Remember, these are only suggestions. You are more than welcome to create any other action items that meet any of the six focus area goals.


Looking for a printable version of this list? Here it is.

Sustainable Princeton is here for you! We want to see your neighborhood succeed and achieve certification, so please ask for support and guidance at any step along the way. We can help brainstorm actions, find resources, and organize tours and speakers – just ask!

Thank you to our generous sponsor,
NRG Energy, Inc.