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.

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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

Kelly Caiazzo

Thanks to everyone who participated in Sustainable Wellesley’s reusable gift wrapping project. The Wellesley sewing community created over 500 reusable cloth wrapping solutions from donated fabric, offering one for free to Wellesley Marketplace guests! Since Wellesley no longer recycles gift wrap, it’s more important than ever to think reusable. (Not sure what to wrap? Check out our Gift Guide of reusable solutions that make wonderful gifts!)

If you received a free reusable wrapping cloth, thanks for visiting our booth and for your interest in sustainable solutions! We hope you will subscribe to our newsletter and join us in being part of the solution, whether it’s planting milkweed for monarchs, opting into the Power to Choose program, or being a “green” voice at a local town meeting. We have a lot of volunteer opportunities for anyone interested in getting more involved!

How to use your furoshiki wrapping cloth:

Reusable gift wrapping cloths, called furoshiki, have been used in Japan for centuries. Below is a free graphic from Japan’s Ministry of the Environment with different folding techniques. Click here for a full size pdf.

Below is a video demonstration of how to fold a basic gift wrap.

Here’s a quick video tutorial on how to wrap a bottle in furoshiki cloth:

We want to thank all the volunteers who sewed cloths, donated fabric, lent supplies, attended and organized sewing bees, and volunteered as wrappers at Wellesley Marketplace in order to make this giant free reusable gift wrapping booth possible.

It was a great way to flood the community with a reusable solution while also encouraging people to sign up for the Sustainable Wellesley newsletter and making people aware of our presence in the community.

Kelly Caiazzo

We’re in the habit of bringing our own water bottles everywhere, sometimes to the point of awkwardness. (Nice restaurants will serve you tap water in a glass, plopping your hydroflask on the table’s
cloth napkin kind of detracts from the ambiance.)

But what about day trips or long afternoons on the beach where one
water bottle per person isn’t really enough?

I used to bring multiple reusable water bottles for everyone in the
family, but that got heavy and awkward.

Now what I do is I skip packing ice packs in our cooler, and instead I
use an extra large mason jar filled with ice-water. It keeps our
snacks cold, and when we’re done eating, I can use the ice water to
refill everyone’s water bottles. Wrapping it in a light kitchen towel
helps prevent condensation from getting on snacks if that’s a concern!

If it’s too heavy to carry, sometimes I’ll leave it in the car,
knowing that we can refill everyone’s waters before we drive home.

You can use ice cubes or you can put water in the mason jar and freeze
it in a solid block. If you do the latter, make sure you don’t fill it
all the way because ice expands and you don’t want to shatter a mason
jar in your freezer. Also be aware that it might not melt in time for
you to have enough water to refill your water bottle!

There are also a lot of large insulated reusable water jugs on the
market made from food-safe stainless steel; these might be a good
purchase if they’ll help make it easier for you to avoid buying
plastic water by the case to bring on your outings. They are also good
for places that don’t want you to bring glass in, such as many
amusement parks and pool areas. Look for them anywhere that sells
camping supplies.

But for me, having a mason jar of ice water in the cooler has made
summer just a little easier!