Sponsor a Tree to Honor Lives Lost to COVID-19

Spearheaded by Green Newton’s Environmental Youth Leadership Program, the Capture Carbon Commemorate COVID-19 Tree Project (4C Tree Project) hopes to demonstrate the resilience of our City through difficult times and its commitment to a healthy ecosystem. 

Sponsor a 4C Tree

Why trees? Trees symbolize life, connection, strength and ancestry.

We hope the planting of young trees will help our community look ahead to renewed vitality and balance in our lives while remembering the lives we lost and the challenges we endured. We hope that each sighting of a 4C tree will remind us of how precious life is and how important it is for us to care for the environment that sustains it.

Why trees? Trees are an amazing green infrastructure. They:

  • Capture carbon dioxide from the air, store carbon in the trunk, leaves and soil, and release oxygen into the atmosphere
  • Offer cooling shade, block cold winter winds, attract birds and wildlife
  • Contribute to a clean water supply by preventing soil erosion and chemical runoff
  • Provide grace and beauty to our homes and community

This is where you come in. You can contribute to this tree memorial project by making a gift now.

Sponsor a 4C Tree

We hope to fundraise enough funds to begin the first round of tree plantings in spring 2021. Through the generous support of Mayor Ruthanne Fuller, we will work with the Newton Department of Forestry and community volunteers to plant the trees.

In 1970, Newton’s public spaces had 40,000 thriving trees, but that number has dwindled to around 20,000 in recent years. With your contribution, we can plant trees, offset carbon emissions, and provide a living reminder of those we lost to COVID-19.


Questions? Check out our FAQs here, or email Barbara Brousal-Glaser at [email protected]. If you are interested in joining the tree care team, please email Elizabeth Sockwell at [email protected].

Greening the Holidays: a virtual public meeting for all ages

Green Newton Student Group presents Greening the Holidays, a virtual public meeting for all ages on how to celebrate a sustainable holiday season.

Newton student leaders are offering this unique opportunity for us to make plans to celebrate a more sustainable holiday season. The program will include great gift ideas, trivia questions and easy steps to make an environmental difference. Presentation topics are listed below.

Greening the Holidays
Sunday, December 6, from 4-5pm
Please register in advance HERE

  • Food & Waste, with Kaleigh Yee (NSHS ’19) and Hailey Strickler (Beaver Country Day ‘22) How does food and waste play into the culture of a holiday? How can we make more sustainable choices while maintaining tradition?
  • Fashion, with Ahona Dam (NSHS ’23) and Mia Santangelo (NNHS ‘22) What is fast fashion? How can we consciously avoid supporting it during the holidays?
  • Transportation, with Ava Freeman (NSHS ’22) During a ‘normal’ holiday season, how can we realistically prioritize conscious transportation choices?
  • Gift Giving, with Windley Knowlton (NSHS ‘18) What makes a gift special? What are some  meaningful, environmentally conscious gift ideas?
  • Advocacy, with Coral Lin (NNHS, ‘21) Why is advocacy important to prioritize during the holidays?
  • Taking Action!, with Clara Dutton (NSHS ‘21) How energy efficiency steps can be considered a gift?
  • The 4C Tree Project, introduced by Elizabeth Sockwell (NSHS ‘16) and Jojo Parks (BC ‘24) What is the ‘Capture Carbon Commemorate COVID-19’ project all about? How can one incorporate volunteering experience into a gift?

With gratitude to Esther Zhang (NNHS ’22) for designing the graphic for this Green Newton event!



Greening the Holidays

Energy: Solar Panels Update – October 2020

From the October 5, 2020 Facilities Update

Phase 3 Solar Panel Project – Update

    • All of the Macquarie solar projects will be scheduled for next spring and summer 2021.
    • The projects are likely to be phased as follows:
      • Phase 1 – Early Spring- Roof projects at Cabot, Carr, Angier, Williams.
      • Phase 2 – Carports at Ed Center, Memorial-Spaulding, Mason Rice, Pleasant Street Parking lot.
      • Phase 3 – Summer- Carports at Wheeler Road, Brown, Oak Hill.
  • Two Ameresco solar canopy projects at North High School are on schedule. Solar canopies were installed in the two parking lots this summer and the contractor is now completing the electrical work. Four Electric Vehicle charging stations will be included as part of this project, two at each lot.
  • Ameresco rooftop projects at the Ed Center, Zervas, and Fire Station #3/HQ have been on line and providing electricity to these buildings since June 2020.

Water fountains and sinks

  • Water Bottle Refill Stations – Installed at Lincoln Eliot and Horace Mann. Every school now has at least one.
  • Additional Sinks – Installed at Horace Mann as part of a previously planned project. Portable sinks installed in schools identified as needing additional hand washing stations.

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.

“Newton students, teachers lead the push for a more sustainable district”

Original post from the Boston Globe – 

By Andres Picon, Boston University journalist, Updated March 25, 2020,

It takes more than just a few recycling bins here and there to truly make a school district environmentally sustainable.

That’s the message from members of Newton’s School Sustainability Working Group — a cohort of students, parents, teachers, administrators and others who since the group’s foundation in June have been advocating for more comprehensive measures to reduce Newton Public Schools’ impact on the environment.

“These are important steps that must be taken to tackle the climate crisis here in Newton and set an example for other school systems in the state and country,” Coral Lin, a junior at Newton North High School, said at a school committee meeting on Jan. 13. “My generation is increasingly anxious about the world’s future, but many feel paralyzed into inaction … This problem could be solved if students were educated not only on the causes and effects of climate change, but how we can work together to find and implement solutions.”

Each of the working group’s initiatives for promoting sustainable practices within the school district falls under one of four broader focus areas: recycling and waste diversion, food services, energy, and transportation. Group members work closely with the nonprofit Green Newton, as well as other stakeholders like the city’s Department of Public Works and the district’s food service management company, to coordinate and realize their objectives.

In its first nine months, the group held monthly meetings, launched a webpage through NPS to communicate its goals and ideas to the community, and pushed for the city to apply for a School Recycling Assistance Grant through the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, according to a report on the district’s sustainability efforts presented at the Jan. 13 school committee meeting.

But perhaps the group’s most significant achievement was to have sustainability included as one of the key steps toward achieving the district’s systemwide goals for 2019-2020, as part of a plan to improve school facilities.

“We want sustainability efforts to be institutionalized in the schools. It has to be something that the schools and the district champion,” said Joana Canedo, chairwoman of Green Newton School Connections, a forum for members of the NPS community to discuss sustainability needs and goals, which works in collaboration with the working group.

There are two critical steps the district can still take to further its commitment to addressing climate change, advocates say, and both of them would empower students to take the lead in the effort to mitigate the effects of the ongoing climate crisis.

The first step would be for the district to formally include climate education as part of its curriculum for all students. In January, students launched an online petition to try to do just that.

“We don’t have the standardized, encompassing curriculum necessary for such an important topic,” says the petition, which had garnered more than 1,000 signatures by mid-March. “Some students grow up knowing about our deteriorating environment, others do not. Some teachers focus heavily on ecology and biodiversity, or the environmental movement and sustainability laws, others do not. Our schools should have a standard curriculum, bridging learning gaps to help all students reach the same level of knowledge.”

Bolstering the district’s curricula at all grade levels by encouraging and even requiring a greater emphasis on environmental literacy would help provide the impetus the fight against climate change requires right now, Canedo said.

“If climate education becomes a goal or a priority, the agenda can be pushed further in many ways,” she said. “We invite [student] engagement because we think they are what’s moving the world forward. We want not only to hear what they have to say, but also to help them do some of the things they might not know how to do — to navigate the system.”

Other smaller moves district administrators could make to facilitate a transition to a “greener” future could include allocating more of its budget toward sustainability initiatives, offering professional development focused on climate education, or simply stating that sustainability is a priority for the district, which it has begun to do through the establishment of the working group and by including sustainability as part of its systemwide goals, Canedo said.

But in order for meaningful change to take place, the district must develop a more effective and permanent system for planning and carrying out sustainability initiatives, Canedo said.

The second critical step the district needs to take, advocates say, is to hire a full-time sustainability coordinator who would work with students, educators and administrators at each Newton school to help them organize and execute their ideas for making their schools more sustainable.

“We have to stop thinking of climate as a movement, or a group or a working group. We have to have a climate revolution,” Underwood Elementary School educator Andy Gluck said at the Jan. 13 school committee meeting. “I think most of us are here to ask you, as a school committee with 12,000 students and the impact that you can make, to number one, hire a sustainability coordinator for the district — full time, nonstop — and be sure that coordinator has a green team captain at each school that can do the work that has to get done.”

Green teams are groups of students and teachers who work together to brainstorm and implement ways to make the schools more sustainable. As of mid-March, 11 of Newton’s 21 public schools had an active green team, and eight of them are registered with MassDEP for this school year, according to Green Newton School Connections records. That registration is an important distinction that provides green team members with more supplies and more opportunities for environmental education than they would otherwise receive.

While Newton schools have closed until at least April 6 due to concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus, sustainability advocates are continuing the work toward improvements throughout the district. Green Newton School Connections is continuing its monthly meetings online, and its workgroups have been working via email, Canedo said.

Other members of the community have also been encouraged to participate in the process remotely, with GNSC distributing to teachers an online survey about climate education and offering both students and teachers additional resources, like online climate education webinars and courses, and even some inspiration, like sustainability success stories from other school districts around the country.

So, despite the temporary closure, the push for a more sustainable Newton continues, and regardless of the ongoing pandemic, Canedo said, that transition is going to be led by students and teachers.

“In order for things to work, everybody needs to be involved and active and make the changes that are needed,” she said. “We cannot just pass a resolution and say Newton is going to accomplish this by whatever date if we don’t establish a foundation, and the foundation is the schools.”

Andres Picon can be reached at [email protected].

The content of this article was reproduced from the Boston Globe with permission of the Boston Globe; ©2020 Boston Globe. All Rights Reserved.