Podcast: “Recycling in Schools: Join the Green Team!”

An in-depth interview with MassDEP‘s Ann McGovern about The Green Team and environmental education in K-12 schools: resources, curricula, and success stories. 

In this MassRecycle Podcast, hosted by Gretchen Carey and Waneta Trabert (Newton Sustainability Director), Ann McGovern, from MassDEP, talks about how The Green Team can help – and inspire – teachers, students and parents, to bring sustainability to the classroom. 

  • How materials from The Green Team are aligned with the MassDESE curriculum framework, in MathsEnglish Language Arts,  and Science and Technology;
  • Project based learning: hands-on activities made easy to be used in classrooms of all grades;
  • Composting, recycling, waste audits, idling and much more 
  • Parents involvement 

Newton South Global Community’s program receives a Green Difference Award

We are excited to celebrate with the Newton South High School group of around 250 students and teachers in the Global Communities Program who have recently been honored with a “2020 Green Difference Award” from Project Green Schools.

Green Newton board member, Andrew Thompson (on the right), and around a dozen of his colleagues serve as teachers in the Global Communities Program that was recognized mainly because of their outstanding environmental work on students’ senior year projects. Over the past ten years, students have engaged dozens of local and global issues, including starting Newton South’s farm, combating fast fashion, improving recycling and composting at South, encouraging Newton residents to sign up for 100% renewable electricity, holding an e-waste drive and much more. In addition, the Global Communities Program highlights having students work with other students abroad, such as their ongoing collaboration with Norra Real School in Stockholm, which culminated in a student trip in 2019 to Sweden and Iceland to study climate change and sustainability in Arctic countries.  

A list of senior projects can be found on this link:
Mason-Rice Green Team

Food Waste Diversion Program at Mason-Rice

Original post from the Green Cart Chronicle  – 

April 9, 2020

In February, Mason-Rice Elementary School launched a food waste diversion program in its cafeteria. Mason-Rice is the third school to incorporate food waste diversion, joining Angier and Zervas where similar programs started last year. Special thanks to Mason-Rice Principal Jake Bultema and several parents, including Heather Friedman and Wendy Sheu for bringing this composting program to life. The food waste will be picked up at Mason-Rice twice weekly by Black Earth Compost. Check out the video that the Mason-Rice Green Team made that explains how this new waste stream functions in the school cafeteria. School recycling and food waste diversion programs are being coordinated by Newton DPW on a voluntary basis. Interested in knowing more? Contact Erica with Newton DPW at [email protected]

Food waste makes up 26% of the weight of trash collected in Massachusetts. That not only fills landfills, but also costs us a lot of money in waste disposal fees. Instead of throwing food waste in the trash, composting turns leftover food back into a soil amendment to grow more food.

Click on the image to watch the video:

Mason-Rice Lunchtime Compost Guide

Newton North Reinvigorates Recycling Efforts

Original post from the Green Cart Chronicle  – 

April 9, 2020

In early March, Newton DPW worked with NNHS students and faculty to improve recycling efforts throughout the school. The cafeteria now has recycling bins paired with trash bins. Uniform signage was posted above all trash and recycling bins throughout the school. Check out a student-made video, which is part of an ongoing series about improving recycling at North.

Click on the image to watch the video:

Newton North Recycling Game Show

Online Environmental Education Resources for Students at Home

Original post from The Green Team News – 

While school is closed, there are still ways to engage students in online and at home learning. There are many Massachusetts and New England-based organizations that have resources designed to be used virtually:
  • The Massachusetts Association of Science Teachers Board of Directors has created a spreadsheet of free online resources for science educators. If you know of other free science-specific resources that are not included in this list, please email [email protected] with additional links and a brief description of the resource.
  • The Massachusetts Environmental Education Society created an online resource where environmental educators, families, and individuals can find Massachusetts-specific activities, explorations, and more.
  • Maine Environmental Education Association has compiled curated crowd-sourced resources from their education community to help support teachers and families looking for environmental education/STEM projects to do at home or online.

School Cases: Pine Village Preschool Goes Green

By Brid Martin, Jan 2020 – 

How a Newton preschool started a Green program with the help of School Connections

I am one of the founders of Pine Village Preschool, a Spanish immersion preschool for toddler and preschool-age children. We have ten schools located throughout Greater Boston, with two locations in Newton. I am enrolled in the Mindfulness Studies Master’s Degree Program at Lesley University, where I am currently taking my internship class, Mindfulness as Social Engagement. I have long been passionate about environmental issues and now have both the opportunity and dedicated time to develop a more environmentally friendly setting at each of our schools. I discovered the Green Newton School Connections group through an online search, and as a member since October 2019, I have already learned a lot. Most recently, I enrolled our West Newton School in the MassDEP The Green Team, an excellent resource I discovered through the group.

We have identified a list of goals to help us get a Green School program started. They include:

  • placing recycling and composting containers at each school;
  • educating directors and teachers on what gets recycled, composted, and logistics such as pick-up dates and times, etc.;
  • creating developmentally appropriate curriculum in English and Spanish centered on the concepts of sustainability and mindfulness for toddlers and preschoolers;
  • replacing paper and one-time use utensils with reusable options;
  • utilizing recycle centers as potential resources for writing and art/curriculum materials;
  • involving parents in our efforts and offering suggestions and tools that extended the learning and practices at home.

Implementing environmentally friendly practices and focusing our education on environmental issues at the West Newton School will help inform future rollouts at our other school locations. We also plan on sharing what we learn and the curriculum we develop with other preschool programs that are interested in starting a sustainability initiative.

We are running out of time to do something that halts and reverses the effects of climate change. The time is now, and we all bear the responsibility to save this planet for future generations. We have an opportunity to do something meaningful starting where we live, with our families, our workplaces, and our communities.

I am enthusiastically committed to creating Green Schools, one school at a time, while teaching our littlest citizens that they have the power to make change happen. I am optimistic about the future, and failure is not an option. I invite you to join an environmental group in your neighborhood. If you live or work in Newton, I highly recommend that you check out Green Newton. I have met many people who are already doing so much, and I have unearthed a treasure trove of resources to help me in my mission.

Brid Martin
Cofounder, Pine Village Preschool


NPS Superintendent Addresses Sustainability in his January Update

In his periodic update to the Newton school community sent out on January 21st, David Fleishman talked about sustainability in our schools.  “Many of our students are at the forefront of this issue, as evidenced by their powerful speeches to our School Committee last week.” (See the Jan 13th meeting minutes here, and one of the speeches here). 

Read the full newsletter here:  News from the Superintendent (January 2020)

Together with Dr. Fleishman, we look forward to “strengthening our own sustainable practices as a district while continuing to provide our students with multiple opportunities to learn about, engage in, model, and actively support a more sustainable planet.” 

Green Newton School Connections has been working with the district and the city as a member of the School Sustainability Working Group. We are thankful for the partnership in helping to engage with families,  propose policy, and support sustainable practices and more environmental literacy and climate education. 

Please take a look at our  initiatives here. And join us! All are invited to attend our meetings

GreenExpo was a Great Day to Connect Students and Adults

The booth School Connections shared with Students for a Greener World was busy at the 2019 GreenEXPO on Sunday, October 20. Thank you to all who stopped by and especially to our student volunteers who helped to spread the word about Green Teams and actions everyone can take every day for the environment.

  • Children added leaves to our tree of ideas about how to fight climate change and  made pine cone bird feeders. 
  • We were lucky to have the Newton South Farm as our neighbors.  The high school runs a robust farm program, with enthusiastic students. They were selling beautiful vegetables at the fair.
  • We learned about gardens that we didn’t know about at Lincoln-Eliot and Franklin. 
  • Bike Newton expressed interest in connecting the Newton South and Newton North bike clubs to do activities together.
  • We heard that the Climate Action group at Newton North (who promoted the March 15th March) is planning another climate action in Boston the Friday after Thanksgiving. They are set to connect with Newton South so both schools collaborate.

It was a great day to connect and confirm that together we are building a more sustainable school community in Newton.


Image 1 of 15

School Cases: Zervas encourages families to walk, bike, ride the bus or carpool to school

Original post from Zervas Walks – 

Zervas is celebrating international walk to school day on Friday, October 4.


WALKWalking is the best way to get to school! Kids love to walk, especially with friends, and it gives them time to wake-up, socialize and expend a little energy so they arrive at school ready to learn. Walking home is a great way to wind down. We encourage all families to walk whenever possible. Zervas is designed as a walkable school.

BIKE – Biking is another great way to get to school! Children in grades K through 3 should bike with an adult. There are bike racks by the front door of the school and at the back playground.  The Newton Police will host bike safety training for Zervas 5th graders again this year.

BUSSchool buses help reduce traffic! If you live more than a mile from school you may be eligible for bus service. Go to the Newton Public Schools transportation website for more information and Zervas bus schedules.

CARParking is extremely limited. Drivers must use the Blue Zone (a “live” drop-off/pick-up zone) or park legally on the street. If you choose to drive, please read this guide and review the map carefully.


  • Slow down, hang up, and be patient!
  • Kids must always use the crosswalk even with an adult!
  • Never drop off or pick up from a traffic lane or a No Parking or No Standing area – only from the Blue Zone or a legal parking space. There are no parking spaces in front of the Blue Zone.
  • Beethoven Ave is Do Not Enter at drop-off and pick-up headed north. Stay on the east side of the street to allow for emergency vehicles.
  • No turning in driveways — kids are running down the sidewalk that you are crossing!
  • If the Blue Zone is full you cannot wait for spaces to open – it creates dangerous gridlock. Either circle the block or park legally.
  • Don’t back up to exit the Blue Zone – a child might step off the curb behind you!
  • Park legally. Observe all signs.
  • Do not enter the school bus loop or staff parking lot on Beacon St.
  • Never block (or park within 5ft. of, or park in) a private driveway.
  • Never pass a school bus with flashing red lights! It’s the law.

More on the Zervas Walks website