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Waste & Recycling May 28, 2024 02:05:55 AM

MA’s Healey-Driscoll Administration Announces Green Team Awards for Environmental Stewardship in Schools Across State

Waste Advantage
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For more than 20 years, the Green Team program has been open to Massachusetts students of all ages who share in the goals of reducing pollution and protecting the environment with a focus on recycling, composting and sustainability.

MA’s Healey-Driscoll Administration Announces Green Team Awards for Environmental Stewardship in Schools Across State

SEATTLE (Waste Advantage): The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) today recognized students from 63 schools across Massachusetts with Green Team Awards for outstanding environmental stewardship and educational activities. Green Team is a statewide program sponsored by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) and MassDEP to empower students and teachers to help the environment by taking action in their communities. HEC Academy in Northampton received the grand prize and Atkinson Elementary School in North Andover, Lawrence Family Development Charter School, Ottoson Middle School in Arlington, and William L. Foster Elementary School in Hingham were recognized for their achievement.

For more than 20 years, the Green Team program has been open to Massachusetts students of all ages who share in the goals of reducing pollution and protecting the environment with a focus on recycling, composting and sustainability. The 2023-2024 school year marks the highest registration in the program in four years, with 352 classes – comprised of 55,138 students at 318 schools – participating.

“The Healey-Driscoll Administration congratulates all the Green Team teachers and students for showing outstanding leadership during the past school year,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rebecca Tepper. “Green Teams raise environmental awareness and promote waste reduction, reuse, recycling, and composting in their schools, homes, and communities. This is another example of our commitment to expanding partnerships with municipalities to build a more sustainable future.”

“Our Green Team participants embody what it means to be active and engaged residents by demonstrating fun and practical ways for everyone to conserve water and energy, reduce waste, preserve natural resources and protect the climate,” said MassDEP Commissioner Bonnie Heiple. “We applaud these exemplary students for putting great thought and solutions into practice every day to help to address some of our most pressing environmental issues.”

Students took part in a range of activities, including:

  •          Expanding school recycling programs
  •          Collecting textiles for donation and recycling
  •          Starting a compost pile using organic waste from the school cafeteria and using the compost to grow vegetables in their school garden
  •          Rescuing unused or unwanted food and distributing to local food banks
  •          Planting trees and native wildflowers to attract pollinators and songbirds
  •          Repurposing and reusing materials to make “new” items
  •          Implementing Zero Waste Days at school
  •          Conducting science experiments to observe how carbon dioxide affects the atmosphere
  •          Promoting water conservation
  •          Making their school drop-off and pickup locations “Idle-Free Zones”
  •          Increasing energy efficiency in their schools and communities
  •          Reducing their carbon footprint at school and at home

These environmentally focused activities incorporated classroom disciplines from the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), as well as reading, writing, art, and other non-classroom, interrelated projects.

Participating classes entered in a drawing for prizes and 63 classes received prizes for their efforts. One school won the grand prize and four schools were recognized for going “above and beyond” with their efforts to promote sustainability and responsible leadership in their communities. These five schools will receive gift cards that can be used for a party to celebrate their hard work and dedication or for materials or equipment that support their Green Team efforts. The five winners are:

  •          HEC Academy (Northampton) – Grand Prize Winner: Building on their success in sustainability last school year, HEC Academy continues to dedicate time and effort to improving their school and community. Students conducted waste audits for single-use containers and utensils and used this data to inform the purchase of reusable serve ware; successfully advocated for cooking classes to be incorporated into the school curriculum, focusing on nutrient-rich and local food choices, minimizing waste and practicing sustainable farming. HEC Academy students also regularly volunteered at a local reuse store and assisted in the diversion of over six tons of textiles. The students and faculty of HEC Academy dedicated at least one hour per day to their Green Team efforts, amplifying student voice while prioritizing sustainability.
  •          Atkinson Elementary School (North Andover): The Green Team at Atkinson Elementary implemented a source separation and composting system that successfully diverted more than four tons of food from the waste stream. They met on a regular basis to manage the hydroponic garden that produced three batches of lettuce for salad enjoyed by the third- through fifth-grade classrooms. The team at Atkinson Elementary also used their collective voice to make changes to reduce waste throughout the school through Earth Day events and an assembly based on the book “Our Planet! There’s No Place Like Earth!”
  •          Lawrence Family Development Charter School – LFDCS (Lawrence): With strong support from leadership on campus, the LFDCS started a source separation program in their cafeterias that diverted 14 tons of food from the waste stream. Their Green Team students participated in regular lunchroom weigh days and have been dedicated in minimizing food waste and increasing recycling at school, home and in their community.
  •          Ottoson Middle School (Arlington): The Ottoson Middle School Green Team and Lunch Leaders conducted multiple litter cleanups throughout school grounds, built a Green Team website and advocated for the protection of endangered amphibian species. The Lunch Leaders monitored their cafeteria’s sorting stations and educated their peers every week. They continue to improve the school’s waste reduction efforts by advocating for a food share system tailor-made to the needs of their students and cafeteria.
  •          William L. Foster Elementary School (Hingham): The Foster Elementary School Green Team incorporated curriculum and hands-on learning through different science experiments. Students examined the effects of carbon dioxide, applying their observations to a global perspective and shedding light on the potential impacts of heat-trapping gases on the environment. They also took a proactive and introspective approach to food waste diversion through cafeteria audits and discussions, which resulted in the students identifying possible causes of food waste in their cafeterias and helped guide change in the school culture around these habits.

The remaining 58 Green Team classes for the 2023-2024 school year received prizes for their participation, including reusable stainless-steel straws, reusable bamboo utensil sets, water bottle stickers, or paper bookmarks with seeds embedded for planting.

Courtesy: www.wasteadvantage.com

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