Wellesley Green Schools would like to ask for your help. As members of a unique partnership between the Town of Wellesley’s Sustainable Energy Committee, Natural Resources Commission and Sustainable Wellesley we work hard every day to advocate for energy conservation, improved recycling programs, stewardship of our local green spaces, and sustainable practices in our schools.
Please help us cut down on the use of single-use plastics, which are polluting our environment, and contributing to human health problems. Plastic bags, bottles, cups utensils, and lids are admittedly a huge convenience, but pose a unique and overwhelming problem as 93% of plastics go directly to landfill and once there, they photodegrade: break down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways and entering our food chain.
HERE IS THE GOOD NEWS:
Here is a SMART Event Checklist, which you can use at events big and small.
What is a SMART Event?
A SMART (Sustainable Materials and Reduce Trash) EVENT refers to an event that is hosted in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. The goal of event greening is “to reduce the consumption of natural resources, reduce waste to a minimum, limit impacts on global climate and protect biodiversity and human health.” It requires responsible, sustainable decision making and implementation and can leave a positive legacy for the natural environment and local community.
The gist: first reduce the amount of garbage, then reuse and recycle as much as possible. Following are some ways to do that.
1) Skip the Theme:
Themes are cute, but those specialized paper plates, streamers, banners and decorations end up in our local landfill. Similarly, those prizes the kids love also end up collecting in our streams, and rivers and polluting our environment so consider ways to downsize the plastic prizes. If you must use balloons, choose balloons made from recycled latex and avoid plastic table-coverings.
2) Use Electronic Communication:
Try to avoid printed handouts and instead use e-mail, signupgenius or other volunteer management tool and electronic invitations to manage registration, announcements and updates. If printouts are necessary, use recycled or eco-friendly paper.
3) Buy Recyclable Materials:
If possible, eliminate water bottles and other single serve containers from all school events. Re-usable water bottles are the best option, but if beverages are necessary please consider bulk water or juice and cups. Consider investing in reusable plastic cups (available at Ikea or Target), which can be washed by a volunteer or clear plastic cups labeled with a #4 which are recyclable. Finally, if no other alternatives exist, buy beverages in aluminum cans and glass bottles that can be recycled. By buying wisely, you can make a huge impact.
- When Serving Food: Consider renting dinnerware in certain situations or, if possible, choose food options which don’t require utensils and can be eaten by hand:
-popcorn, pretzels, pirate booty, goldfish, etc.
-whole fruit or fruit on a stick
-pizza can be served on a paper napkin
– ice cream on a cone vs. styrofoam or paper cups
If you must use disposable dishes, look for biodegradable choices such as bowls and dishes made from recycled paper or a renewable resource like bamboo. Whole Foods offers a number of options and BJs offers a line of Chinet plates which are compostable. Choose aluminum foil, wax paper and good old-fashioned paper lunch bags for food and avoid disposables like paper towels and wipes where possible.
4) Twin Garbage and Recycling Containers:
Insure that sufficient and large enough recycling bins are clearly and conveniently placed adjacent to all trash cans and provide waste monitoring assistants to ensure recycling procedures are adhered to. Put up signage clearly stating which products can and should be recycled and consider adding the waste monitoring assistant to your volunteer list. Contact the Wellesley RDF to reserve the Recyclemobile for your event and they will remove recyclable items from your event free of charge. They can be reached at 781-235-7600 x3340.
Keep in mind that while these efforts are important to human health as well as the health of our environment they also can have a significant positive financial impact for the town and our local PTOs.
In the event you are interested in learning more about the movement to reduce plastic and its toxins from our environment, the following link contains more information. http://plasticpollutioncoalition.org/learn/basic-concepts/