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.
Big thanks to the Wellesley High School Football players and coaches who took part in the first high school team town-wide clean up this past weekend. This event was so motivating that the team will start doing it annually and have challenged other teams to do it as well.
Members of Wellesley Green Schools and Football Coach Jesse Davis last came together to create a meaningful community-service project to call attention to the increasing problem of single-use plastic pollution. A team-building cleanup project was proposed and organized, with the NRC providing maps of areas in need of cleanup, as well as gloves, safety vests, and other supplies.
“The Wellesley Football Team town-wide clean up not only beautified Wellesley’s public spaces, but also allowed the players to see first hand the amount of single use plastic around town. This started conversations on ways to reduce it,” said Coach Davis. “To encourage players to create less waste, the team purchased water bottles with their numbers on them for students to re-use,” Davis said.
Thanks to the team’s hard work, residents noticed trash-free areas around the High School, Memorial Grove, Perrin Park, Ollie Turner Park, Ouellette Park, and Reeds Pond.
“The coach encourages us to give back to the community since they support us on the field,” said Holt Fletcher, Wellesley High School senior and one of the four captains of the football team. “Not only was the town-wide clean up a great way for us to do that, and to get out into the community as a team, but it really opened up our eyes to the amount of trash lying around our school and many of the town’s parks and conservation areas,” Fletcher said.
“I hope other teams and community members join the football team in this important effort to help our town,” said Nicholas Cavallerano, a junior on the team. His brother Louis, a freshman, said proudly, “This was my first football community activity and I really liked that coaches and players worked together to help our community with the cleanup.”
To get involved in other town cleanups or propose one of your own, contact the Natural Resources Commission at 781-431-1019, ext. 2294. To learn tips on plastic waste reduction visit Wellesley Green Schools at www.sustainablewellesley.com.
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?
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?
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?
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.