Phyllis Theermann

“Skip the Straw, Save Our Seas” is the focus of Hardy Elementary School’s 3rd Grade Girl Scout Brownie Troop (#72113)  initiative. While working on their Wonders of Water Journey Badge, the Troop decided to advocate, educate and inspire our community to protect the world’s water with this challenge.

First, the Troop created a large noticeboard at Hardy Elementary filled with information about the plastic problems in our oceans and waterways and specifically the problems of single use plastics, like straws. They also installed a pledge sheet to encourage others to sign up to refuse plastic straws in restaurants and cafes, and if possible explain why they are refusing the straw.

The Troop followed this with a presentation to a whole school assembly on why Wellesley should “Skip the Straw”. They then wrote to a dozen local and national restaurants explaining the problems of  single use plastics, and asked them to only give out straws on request and also to think about ending the use of plastic straws in their businesses. The troop will be visiting a few local restaurants to ask them in person to join the “Skip the Straw” project.

They are inviting the Wellesley community to their screening of the film Straws this Tuesday, May 22nd from 7.30-8.15pm in the Wakelin Room of the Wellesley Free Library.

This topic has been in the press a lot lately (Boston Globe, and the New York Times)  and has moved one Wellesley resident to write the following blog.


Sustainable Wellesley’s Leadership team recently wrote the following letter to the Wellesley College President and the Board of Trustees applauding the College’s commitment to sustainability, and its recent completion of the “Year of Sustainability.”

In addition, the letter urged them to continue to advance this leadership position by investing in renewable energy, rather than fossil fuel infrastructure, for the College’s new power plan, including the likely replacement of the cogeneration facility. For more details, see below. Consider writing to them yourselves — and

May 10, 2018

Dr. Paula Johnson, President, Wellesley College Board of Trustees, Wellesley College,

Dear President Johnson and members of the Board of Trustees,

Sustainable Wellesley is a non-profit grassroots organization whose mission is to engage the residents, businesses, and the Town of Wellesley in the actions required for sustainability. Our organization strongly supports the Town of Wellesley’s carbon reduction goals, adopted by Annual Town Meeting in 2014, which commit the Town to reducing carbon emissions 25 percent below 2007 levels by 2020. We have also been encouraging the Town to consider more ambitious goals for transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy sources.

Wellesley College has demonstrated leadership through its commitment to sustainability, and we applaud the College’s recent completion of its “Year of Sustainability.” We are writing to urge you to continue to advance this leadership position by investing in renewable energy, rather than fossil fuel infrastructure, for the College’s new power plan, including the likely replacement of the cogeneration facility. A sustainable power plan at Wellesley College will certainly assist with the Town of Wellesley’s carbon reduction commitment and will also reduce particulate matter and other pollutants in the air we all breathe.

Climate change represents an existential threat to the future of the young women who attend Wellesley College, and the future of all our children. We hope the College administration will consider the urgent need to address this threat as you make energy decisions that will affect us all.

Sustainable Wellesley Leadership Team

Phyllis Theermann

The Wellesley Public School District and the Wellesley Middle School recently received award recognition for environmental sustainability efforts from the Department of Education, Project Green Schools and the Healthy Schools Campaign.

“Wellesley is a community that cares deeply about the environment and these awards reflect the degree to which that commitment is being operationalized in our school-based practices.  From the innovate ways that our schools are cleaned to the creative ways environmental issues are addressed in our curriculum, I am so pleased that the work of our team and Town partners is being recognized.” said Dr. David Lussier, Superintendent of Wellesley Public Schools.

Recognized by the Department of Education

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recognized Wellesley as a State Finalist in the 2018 Massachusetts Green Ribbon Schools recognition program. Launched by the U.S. Department of Education in 2011, the Green Ribbon Schools recognition program honors schools that are exemplary in reducing environmental impact and costs, improving the health and wellness of students and staff, and delivering effective environmental and sustainability education that incorporates Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), civic skills, and green career pathways. The aim of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) is to inspire schools, districts and Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) to strive for 21st century excellence by highlighting promising practices and resources that all can employ.

The Wellesley Public School (WPS) system was recognized due to its creative and partnership approach to reduce the schools’ ecological footprint and inspiring students to be ecologically minded citizens.  WPS collaborated with many Town departments, students, faculty, parents and local non-profits to combine policies and actions that work to conserve energy, water, reliance on fossil fuels, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while creating initiatives and curriculum to educate global citizens who have an environmentally conscious.  Some of the areas focused on are waste and water reduction, transportation practices, improving health and providing effective environmental education.

As a community, Wellesley students learn environmental responsibility through various waste and energy reduction, and other earth friendly initiatives. This in turn will help create healthy, sustainable, schools and community.

Project Green Schools Award

In addition, Wellesley Middle School Science and IT Teacher Greg Bodkins received an honorable mention award by Project Green Schools. Project Green Schools honors and recognizes Outstanding National Environmental Education & STEM Education efforts led in our Schools & Communities.

“Wellesley Middle School students have helped move the 8th Grade Design and Technology course down paths I had not anticipated at the inception of the new curriculum,” Greg Bodkins, said.  “Students entering the course have technology interests and skills that they can bring to the table. For instance, there were a number of specific parts necessary for construction of our hydroponics systems that were previously unattainable.  Using the school’s 3D printers, students are using basic CAD apps to produce customized files which they subsequently “slice” and print. The parts are then integrated into these self-sustaining systems. Eighth graders are also applying a good deal of the life and earth science concepts they were exposed to in previous Science classes at WMS to help meet the challenge they are posed with at the beginning of the semester,” Bodkins said.

Bodkins worked with the curriculum team to revamp the Design and Technology elective offered to 8th graders. This course bridged the science and IT disciplines and focused on a real life issue rooted in sustainably and the environment.

The goal of the course was within the confines of the school’s greenhouse, design/build a sustainable system to responsibly grow, maintain, market, process and deliver the maximum quantity of high quality food to feed students. “The course enables students to apply a wide variety of design, engineering, and science related concepts to achieving the goals described. Collaborating with the school’s facility department, Bodkins restored the very old, unused greenhouse so that he could open students’ eyes to relevant topics including locality, farming, water and other environmental issues. Simultaneously, this course enables students to learn and use a variety of STEM skills by building the systems.

Project Green School’s mission is to develop the next generation of environmental leaders through education, project-based learning and community service and awarded domestic and international Principals, Teachers, Advisors, Students, Citizens, Schools, School Groups/Club at its annual event at the MA State House.

The Healthy Schools Green Cleaning Award

Finally, the 2018 NATIONAL Grand Winner of the Green Cleaning Award for K-12 Districts Schools was Wellesley, MA. The Wellesley Public Schools were recognized due to the districts innovative programs that protect health and the environment while galvanizing the community around green cleaning.

“The Wellesley Facilities Management Department (FMD) is proud to receive this national recognition for ‘green cleaning’, and fully understand that it would not be possible without the hard work of the men and women of FMD that provide custodial care in our schools every day,” said Joseph F. McDonough, P.E., Facilities Director, Town of Wellesley. “The continued support by the Town and our partnering organizations including the Sustainable Energy Committee, Wellesley Green Schools and WasteWise Wellesley, have allowed the FMD to be at the leading edge of sustainability with initiatives such as our food recovery programs and use of ionized water as our primary cleaning product. This is a Town wide award that we should all take pride in,” McDonough said.

From reducing carbon emissions to boosting test scores, green cleaning comes with a long list of benefits. A well-designed green cleaning program helps students stay healthy and learn; protects the health of custodial staff; increases the lifespan of facilities; preserve the environment and save money.

The Healthy Schools Campaign is a non profit with a mission to ensure that all children have access to healthy school environments where they can learn and thrive.