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

Food Waste Reduction Activities and Lesson Plans

Original post from The Green Team  – 
April 09, 2020

Welcome to the first edition of our weekly eblast sharing environmental education resources that your students can do from home. We hope these emails will help support efforts to engage your students in remote learning while schools are closed.

This week’s featured topic is Food Waste Reduction. Many families purchased extra food in the rush to stay well stocked at home, or are trying to stretch the food they have available to last longer. Now is a great moment for your students to learn about methods of reducing wasted food and composting food scraps.

Here are some activities and lesson plans that THE GREEN TEAM has created or collected to teach your students about the importance of composting and food waste reduction:

  • THE GREEN TEAM Compost Lesson: In this lesson plan, students will learn how soil organisms recycle organic wastes through composting. It has been aligned with Massachusetts curriculum standards for Math, English Language Arts, and Science & Technology/Engineering. Also, check out this quick and easy compost guide: Composting is Easy!
  • Waste-Free Snacks Challenge: As part of the Green Education Foundation’s Waste Reduction Challenge, this activity asks students to think critically and analyze the waste produced from their daily snacks and lunch, and invites them to explore alternatives that generate less packaging and food waste.
  • Save the Food: This website, sponsored by the AdCouncil and National Resource Defense Council, includes tools, tips, practical guidance on how to reduce food waste through proper planning and storage techniques, and impactful videos.

Watch The Extraordinary Life and Times of Strawberry:

The Extraordinary Life and Times of Strawberry

Follow the journey of a strawberry from the farm to the refrigerator to understand all that it takes to bring your food to you. Did you know that 40% of our food ends up wasted? Wasted food is the single largest contributor to landfills in the US—not to mention that it wastes water, labor, fuel, money, & love!

We support funding for a Director of Planning and Sustainability at NPS

Letter sent to the School Committee on March 30, 2020, for the Public Hearing for the School Budget. 

Dear School Committee Members, Superintendent Fleishman, Mayor Fuller, 

We are pleased to know that the Superintendent’s Proposed Budget for the Fiscal Year 2021 includes “funding for a Director of Planning and Sustainability who will both support our building projects and work in collaboration with the city and other partners to improve sustainable practices in the areas of transportation, energy, recycling, and food services.”

In 2018, we wrote this Committee to ask for a Sustainability Coordinator for the district, because “NPS needs a person dedicated to district-wide sustainability efforts so that waste, recycling and energy issues in schools are more coordinated and sustained.” (More here.)

We applaud the district’s commitment to sustainability and your decision to focus on sustainable infrastructure and on the impact of Newton’s buildings on the environment and on the climate. We hope that the new Director of Planning and Sustainability will be able to address operational issues, especially regarding waste management, and work collaboratively with the School Sustainability Working Group (SSWG), as well as with Green Teams at schools. We are excited about the opportunities offered by this new position, and believe that we can help support the new director, as we have worked closely with Liam Hurley, Stephen Marshall, Waneta Trabert, Ann Berwick, and others from NPS, School Committee and the City. 

Furthermore, as we have seen great energy in Green Newton’s School Connections initiative (, we hope that you’ll remember what you’ve heard from the NPS students, parents and educators that have spoken to you about the urgency of environmental literacy, particularly in regards to climate change. (Examples here and here). 

As the city implements its Climate Action Plan (CAP) and the school district works to improve school facilities, we urge the School Committee to consider the benefits of teaching our community why and how to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet the city’s goal of a carbon-neutral Newton by 2050. With the CAP, the City seeks to “equip our residents and businesses with the tools and support needed to make climate-conscious choices that reduce the community’s GHG emissions while also leading by example.” This engagement and education of Newton’s citizens will be even more effective if the schools offered tools to all of our teachers and students.

Please support the goals of Newton’s CAP and the needs of the next generation by offering instructional opportunities for students and staff aiming to infuse more environmental education into existing curricula. Towards that end, Green Newton’s School Connections group has been collecting data from teachers about their current curricula and their expectations regarding climate education, and we will be happy to share our findings after a few more teachers have responded. 

Thanks again for committing to a Sustainability Coordinator and for  your dedication to this critical issue. Please contact us with further questions at [email protected].

Climate Education Survey for Teachers

Green Newton School Connections is advocating for more Climate Education in Newton schools.

We invite all NPS teachers, from grades K-12, from every subject area, to answer this 5-minute survey. We hope to better understand what is already being taught in the district and what can be done to strengthen climate literacy and justice for our students. 

Please spread the word, ask colleagues and teachers to respond.

Thank you!

Climate Education Survey Link:

More at: Climate Education Advocacy

NPR/Ipsos poll, April 2019: Teachers on Climate Change

Image from:  The Daily of the University of Washington – May 28, 2019

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 Gardening and Composting Resources

Original post from The Green Team News – 

Even though schools are closed, the seasons continue to change and Spring has emerged in Massachusetts with crocuses and snowdrops. Gardening is a great way to engage students in spring activities, and THE GREEN TEAM has identified many resources for school gardens that can also be adapted for use at home. The GREEN TEAM website provides a number of different resources for teaching students about gardening and food waste reduction, including the How to Compost at School instructional video. Other resources include:

Student Voice: Lessons to Take on Climate Justice from the Coronavirus

By Elie Berman (Newton South), March 2020 – 

Coronavirus is creating fear from Newton, Massachusetts throughout the entire world. International communities are coming together to fight a pandemic. Coronavirus is affecting every country across the globe, and it draws an eerie parallel to climate change. So what could happen if the world banded together in the same way to fight it?

The ‘tragedy of the commons’ is any situation where individuals selfishly take more than they need from a shared resource, depleting it, and hurting everyone. Walking into a Whole Foods on March 15, canned foods are gone and Clorox wipes fill the garbage can. Customers take more than they came for, fearing there may soon be nothing left. As they overstock their own cabinets, they steal from those who come in to buy their regular share but find every shelf empty. This is one example of the tragedy of the commons. Climate change is another.

Climate change disproportionately affects lower economic communities. While developed countries continue to pollute the air, fill landfills, and emit millions of pounds of CO2 every second, they are also the places less affected. Simultaneously, villages in developing countries are in drought or floods and don’t have the money or power to respond. Some people are displaced and others die.

Recently, the extent of our globalization has become exposed. Disease spreads rapidly, and loved ones phone from thousands of miles away. In reaction to coronavirus, countries mandate the closing of schools and businesses in order to respond to current needs and flatten the curve. Similarly, we need to care about the lower economic communities that are currently seeing the effects of climate change. We must also shift our daily lives, understanding that if we continue the way we are, those effects will soon be hitting everyone. Wherever you are: take fewer flights. Reuse what you already own. Take precautionary measures. You can fight two crises at once.

Newton students are invited to submit essays on the environment in honor of Green Newton’s 30th Anniversary. Like Elie’s essay, selected works will be published on the Green Newton and GN School Connections websites and in the Green Newton e-news. Click HERE for more information on how to submit and essay.

Newton students are invited to submit an essay on “Students Take Climate Action”

In honor of Green Newton’s 30th Anniversary, we invite all high school students who live in Newton to write essays to voice their concerns and inspire others to make a difference by suggesting solutions that can benefit our environment.

The essay topic may be chosen from the list below or it can be an environmental topic of your choice. Students can write how they and others they know are learning to cope with the current challenges we face, while taking positive steps at home and in our community to conserve energy and protect our natural resources.  

Selected essays (300 words max) will be published on the Green Newton website, in our e-news bulletins, and on the GN School Connections website. Green Newton reviewers will determine on a weekly basis how many essays will be selected for publication.

There will be a raffle drawing on a date yet to be determined, in which all students who submit essays will be eligible to receive one of two $50 gift certificate prizes to use at a local shop or restaurant of their choice.

How to submit the essay? Send it by email by April 27 to [email protected]. Please include a title, your full name, school and grade. 

For more information, please email us at [email protected] 

(Information updated on March 20, 2020)


  • How can an education in climate science impact your future career possibilities?
  • Write about the benefits of one of the goals in Newton’s Climate Action Plan.
  • Create testimony is support of a climate-related bill that is being considered in the Massachusetts Legislature. (Resources for legislative priority lists: Mass Power Forward, Mothers Out Front, 350, Our Climate, Sunrise, Conservation Law Foundation, Clean Water Action, MassPIRG, MCAN)
  • Describe how the Sunrise Movement or Greta Thunberg has inspired you to get involved in Climate Action.
  • Write a review of a movie/book by Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, Al Gore or Rachel Carson and describe how it inspires you.
  • What are the most important steps for Newton residents to become more sustainable in their commutes to school, work and other locations?
  • What are the benefits of transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and is Massachusetts making progress in this transition?
  • How does climate change impact lower economic communities?
  • What are green building principles and how can they benefit proposed building projects in Newton?
  • What is pump technology and how is it being used in Newton’s homes?