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elizabeth

by Elizabeth Fulham

Every year before school starts, there’s always a rush to get all of the supplies that I’ll need for the school year. However, this year I started thinking about the plastic-free pledge that I took in July and how it would impact what I would need for my daily life at school. Many of the products that you find in a typical supply store contain plastic or materials that you can’t recycle, which is why I came up with a short list of products that you can get instead.

Stubby Pencil Studio highlighters and pencils: I’ve been using traditional wood pencils instead of plastic mechanical pencils throughout my high school years, but to make sure that the wood is coming from a sustainable source, I use these number 2 pencils.

Instead of the usual ink highlighter, their highlighters are made without plastic, ink solvents, or volatile organic compounds, and they never dry out! Although they look like a colored pencil, they work just the same as ink highlighters, and you can be sure that they won’t show on another side of a page.

Both of these products are made by the Stubby Pencil Studio, a company dedicated to making school, office, and art supplies at an affordable price while still focusing on their “commitment to offering quality and earth friendly goods.”

Pela iPhone Case: This iPhone case is made in Canada from what has been coined “Flaxstic,” a biodegradable, flexible material. The flax fiber has shock absorbing qualities and gives the material a unique appearance that is different for each case. The case also has a raised edge to protect the screen and comes in minimal packaging made from 100% recycled paper. It comes in many different colorful options, and you can even customize it with a business logo or slogan. Pela cases are only biodegradable in industrial facilities.

Lunch bags: Instead of using a lunch bag made from un-recycled plastic materials, try this one from Reuse It. Made out of recycled water bottles with an FDA-approved insulated lining, these colorful lunch bags are a great way to bring your lunch to school or work.

Another option is this lunch bag made by TerraCycle, a company that collects and makes products out of trash that you usually can’t recycle. This particular lunch bag is made from tent fabric with padding to insulate your food, and is very durable. You can also send this lunch bag back to TerraCycle once it reaches the end of its life.

Honest Kids Pencil Case: This zippered pencil case is made from upcycled juice pouches collected by TerraCycle. Billions of juice pouches end up in landfills every year and account for a huge waste of resources, and using this pencil case ensures that fewer plastic materials will detrimentally impact the environment. It also comes with 3 slots so that you can easily clip it into a 3 ring binder, and it can be sent back to TerraCycle to continue being upcycled when it can no longer be used.

Tab Dividers: As an alternative to plastic dividers in a binder, use these 100% recycled 8-tab dividers for school or work. They are very durable and do a great job of keeping all of your materials and papers in the right section. Because they are made in Canada, shipping them requires significantly less carbon and energy than products made overseas. Also, using these will save 24 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, and 60 pounds of air pollution! You can simply recycle the dividers in any recycling program along with other paper products.

Phyllis Theermann

The Wellesley Recreation Commission consists of 5 elected members, who meet regularly to review policy, programs, procedures and the fee structure. The Commission welcomes community input. The mission is to provide recreational and educational opportunities to enhance the quality of life for all Wellesley residents in the most cost-effective manner. “Something for Everyone.”

1. What is your track record on environmental sustainability, including any related interests, experience, or initiatives?

Jim Rodrigue

First and foremost, my track record on environmental sustainability begins with acknowledgment and awareness. I acknowledge that climate change is the single most critical issue we face today as a global society. I am aware that its adverse impact on environmental and human health, food security, and economic systems is expanding, threatening our survival.

While I have not led any environmental sustainability initiatives, I have participated in several of them here in Wellesley. These include abandoning the use of pesticides, active participation in the RDF recycling and Food Waste program, purchasing and driving a hybrid vehicle, using electricity from renewable sources, and installing smart thermostats in my home, among others. Also, as a Town Meeting Member I am committed to ensuring that the town allocates funding for green growth and sustainable development in all new projects.

2. What are your thoughts on sustainability as a consideration and an opportunity for the Recreation Commission?

Jim Rodrigue

Climate change is one the most ominous threats to global public health. Both physical and mental health are adversely impacted by more extreme weather events (wildfires, floods, heatwaves, droughts, etc.), poor air quality, contaminated water and food supplies, water shortages, and diseases spread by insects and pests. We are not immune to these threats here in Wellesley. We must engage all town residents and government agencies, including the Recreation Department, to ensure that they recognize the problem is here now, not something that is a distant problem not yet affecting our community.

3. How would sustainability factor into your own decision-making regarding the development of recreational programs, facilities, and the use of those facilities?

Jim Rodrigue

I think it is the responsibility of all town government officials and departments to ensure that “sustainability” as a core value is considered when discussing any new initiative or program. New programs should not be approved without an assessment of their environmental sustainability and a strategy for mitigating any potential adverse environmental impact.

A central objective of the Recreation Department is to develop educational and recreational programs that encourage new learning, physical activity, and health-promoting activities, which have favorable downstream effects on our community carbon footprint.  As a Recreation Commissioner, I will continue to support and encourage such programs.  Also, I will work collaboratively with others in the Recreation Department to further the Town of Wellesley’s larger environmental sustainability goals, including sustainable development in all new projects, waste minimization, resource efficiency and conservation, protecting water resources via green infrastructure practices, and implementing zero-waste programming and events.

 

All 2019 Candidate Responses

Phyllis Theermann

The mission of the Wellesley Health Department is to assess and address the needs of the Wellesley community, in order to protect and improve the health and quality of life of its residents and work force. This charge is carried out by the implementation of disease prevention programs, health promotion, community health and nursing services, public outreach, education and empowerment, as well as promulgation and enforcement of Health Department, Town and State regulations.

Wellesley Public Health Banner

1. What is your track record on environmental sustainability, including any related interests, experience, or initiatives?

Linda Oliver Grape

Our family are avid “recyclers” and are regular visitors to the RDF! It is a facility that the Town should be most proud. When my children were in elementary school, I was a regular Environmental Aid and learned so very much about the environment from the legendary late Bev Morrison, from the faculty and students. I have incorporated much of what I have learned in my daily routine. In the workplace, I led initiatives promoting recycling and also implemented a “no smoking” policy.

Jim Rodrigue

First and foremost, my track record on environmental sustainability begins with acknowledgment and awareness. I acknowledge that climate change is the single most critical issue we face today as a global society. I am aware that its adverse impact on environmental and human health, food security, and economic systems is expanding, threatening our survival.

While I have not led any environmental sustainability initiatives, I have participated in several of them here in Wellesley. These include abandoning the use of pesticides, active participation in the RDF recycling and Food Waste program, purchasing and driving a hybrid vehicle, using electricity from renewable sources, and installing smart thermostats in my home, among others. Also, as a Town Meeting Member I am committed to ensuring that the town allocates funding for green growth and sustainable development in all new projects.

2. How do you view the relationship between public health, the environment and sustainability?

Linda Oliver Grape

It is imperative that there be a strong connection among the public’s health, the environment and sustainability. It is the responsibility of this generation to ensure a healthy and safe environment for the next generation. In order to do so, implementing best practices for sustainability in all areas of the community (private and public sector) is critical. Our schools and many businesses have done a laudable job in adopting many environmentally sound practices. The recently implemented ban on plastic bags was adopted by Wellesley businesses in a most agreeable manner. It is the responsibility of the Board of Health to ensure a safe, healthy environment for Wellesley; this includes ensuring that we have a safe, sustainable environment.

Jim Rodrigue

Climate change is one the most ominous threats to global public health. Both physical and mental health are adversely impacted by more extreme weather events (wildfires, floods, heatwaves, droughts, etc.), poor air quality, contaminated water and food supplies, water shortages, and diseases spread by insects and pests. We are not immune to these threats here in Wellesley. We must engage all town residents and government agencies to ensure that they recognize the problem is here now, not something that is a distant problem not yet affecting our community.

3. What specific initiatives related to the environment should the Board of Health undertake in your next three-year term?

Linda Oliver Grape

  • The Board of Health needs to develop guideline/policy for vaping; this practice has had a significant increase in popularity and unfortunately, many are young adults.
  • Joining forces with the Department of Public Works (DPW), the Board of Health should work together to develop more stringent regulations regarding recycling; several other towns in the Commonwealth now require recycling plastic and aluminum and impose financial penalties for infractions.
  • Another activity with the DPW would include identifying other opportunities to minimize use of plastic and to promote that practice in the community.
  • Ensuring that the town’s surveillance for insects which pose a public health risk are identified early and are addressed in a manner that does not harm the environment is another initiative that deserves our constant attention.

Jim Rodrigue

I believe there are several initiatives that can be undertaken to ensure that the town fully connects the dots between climate change, environmental sustainability, and public health.  Many public health departments in Massachusetts and across our nation have established goals and implemented programs to mitigate the impact of climate change on public health. As a Board of Health member, I will work with others to pursue the following initiatives for our community:

  • Partner with Sustainable Wellesley to establish an “Environmental Sustainability for Public Health” initiative…
  • Educate town officials about the impact of climate change on public health
  • Educate the public on links between environmental degradation and public health, as well as the community health benefits of alternative/renewable sources of energy
  • Ensure that sustainability and public health are integrated into the broader scope of all town policies
  • Partner with WMLP to achieve higher levels of participation in the renewable energy program (currently only 10% of residential and commercial customers)
  • Provide training to all Health Department staff on climate change, the Department’s role in local climate change initiatives, and policy development for climate change
  • Partner with Sustainable Wellesley to create an award for businesses engaged in environmental sustainability with the greatest health impact for our community

 

All 2019 Candidate Responses