Phyllis Theermann

This year’s STEM EXPO Sustainability Challenge was to promoting a local resource, policy or behavior change that makes Wellesley greener. These came in in a variety of formats such as advertisements, essays, videos, artwork and more. Students from elementary through high school thought hard and convinced their audiences that everything from food waste and removing chemicals from their lawns, to composting and hydroponics were ideal ways to help our environment!

Congratulations to the 2019 Sustainability Challenge winners!

Elementary School Winners:

-Elan Usmani: “Making Wellesley Lawns Greener” video

-Nalini Fiorillo: “How Green Is Your Community?” infographic on school commuting

-Abby Brown and Kayla Bohlin: “Plastic in the Oceans” website and video

Middle School Winner:

-Kellen Sharpe: “Composting” video

High School Winner:

-Owen Mix: “Hydroponic Greenhouse” PowerPoint presentation

Many thanks to all our participants in the 2019 STEM Expo Sustainability Challenge:

Nalini Fiorillo, Chase Gemski, TJ Reohr, Elan Usmani, Emelle Bedair and Layla Bedair, Will Hubbard and Henry Haddon, Nina Wied and Ellery Gerhart, Thomas Zhou, Jacob Gottschaulk and Cooper Gooch, Abby Brown, Kayla Bohlin, Emily Burnham and Audrey Song, Solène Zelenko, Claire Roney, Kathryn Bonnette, Caroline Stewart, Lila Welburn, Aiyden Pires, Hope Schofield, Chace Beauvais, Emma Brostrom, Lilah Wallace, Sean Sullivan, Kenny Song, Olivia Kashian, Costi Papavassiliou, Charlote Haig, Alexander Bertucci, Christian Pooley, Christine McMahon, Nick Lafave, Carter Rich, Ieva MacInnes, Liam Berger, Ryan O’Shea, Daniel Goldberg, Sabrina Gabriel, Leila Eccher, Cameron Poirier, Jayden Song, Graci Doherty, Ben Ackerman, Estelle Maroon, Jacob Recht, Max Wied, Allie Chung, Jake Broggi, Mike Lafave, Blyn Kull-Must, Hally Brown, Lizzy Hudson, Nina Waller, Riley Marth, Lauren Young, Zachary Nolan, Evelyn Harrison, Kaitlyn Willett and Hannah Cronin, Leah Wechsler, Eliza Towle, Kellen Sharpe, Blake and Robert Foster, Alivia Jiang, Owen Mix and Ian Lei.

A message from Mass Green Network to 

Massachusetts legislator have only two more days to co-sponsor the statewide bag bill.

Please consider calling your Representative right now asking them to sign on as a co-sponsor of an Act Reducing Plastic Bag Pollution (HD.134). To find your Representative, click here.

Four years ago there were only seven municipalities in the State with a local bag laws. Today there are over 90, including Boston, Cambridge, Lowell, Framingham, and Burlington. More than 1 in 3 Massachusetts residents lives in a city or town with a bag law. And more are coming: Worcester, Springfield, and Pittsfield are among the cities working on ordinances right now. The people of Massachusetts will value legislative leadership on this issue.

It is good for business.

The current patchwork of local regulation creates great difficulties for major retailers, and needless anxiety for small business owners. They will be well served by a uniform statewide law. Reducing bag use will also result in substantial savings. With no bag laws, retailers in Massachusetts would spend over $145.7 million per year on plastic bags alone, and even more on paper bags.

Would reduce municipal expenditure.

Each month, Massachusetts produces between 100 and 125 tons of bag waste. Plastic bags get caught in our single-stream recycling machinery, causing delay and damage, and contaminating materials that might be recovered. Studies have concluded that the annual costs to cities and towns to subsidize litter management and debris reduction amounts to as much as $10.71 per resident. And this does not account for the indirect costs – the loss to tourism and to the fishing industry. Reducing bags will be a boon for taxpayers.

A fee for paper bags will help business owners and the poor, not harm them.

Paper bags are much more expensive than plastic bags. Without a fee, laws typically reduce bag waste by 60 to 80%. With a modest fee, bag laws reduce both plastic and paper by more than 90%. This reduces the overhead for businesses. The savings get passed on to consumers. The cost of disposable bags for a family of five is about $100 per year. In contrast, ten reusable supermarket tote bags costs $10, and they last a long time indeed. Remember, bags are not free – their costs are just hidden. U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley agrees: bag laws protect our most vulnerable populations.

A statewide bag law will help reduce global warming.

The production, distribution, and disposal of shopping bags used in Massachusetts produces over 97,000 metric tons of CO2 per year. The debris from plastic bags in our oceans disrupt the natural processes that generate oxygen and regulate the climate. Bag laws have more subtle effects too. They encourage consumers to be more thoughtful about their choices. A statewide bag law is the simplest, cheapest, and most effective way to involve ordinary citizens in the solution to the most urgent environmental crisis of our time.

Don’t delay — call today!

-Brad Verter
Founder, Mass Green Network

Kelly Caiazzo

We want to thank everyone who participated in our “Take 3” Beach Challenge to pick up at least three pieces of trash the next time you went to the beach. As you can see, most people didn’t stop when they reached 3! We received trash photos from beaches and even islands everywhere from Cape Cod to Casco Bay, Maine.

As hard as it is to look at some of these photos and think about the danger they pose to ocean life and human health, this all trash that won’t be washed back into the ocean at the next high tide. For that, we’re really thankful.

It’s also interesting to look at the types of plastic found and think about how we could reduce it.

Maybe flowers are a good choice instead of birthday balloons, or balloon lovers could tie them to a chair inside the house instead of to a mailbox outside where they might blow away.

The photo

comprised solely of forgotten beach toys (that have been found new homes) is one that my mother sent me on a day when she arrived at the beach to discover many toys but zero families in sight. Writing our family name on our beach toys could help us keep track of them; I’ve looked at a shovel and left it behind because I wasn’t sure it was ours and wanted to avoid awkwardly stealing it from another family. Writing on items with a sharpie will help us retrieve our stuff with confidence before we leave the beach.

Plastic water bottles, plastic cups, fishing gear and plastic bags are also common features of these trash photos. And if you’re celebrating the Fourth of July, it’s extra patriotic to make sure you bring your flag home so it doesn’t end up washed up on the beach and forgotten with other trash. (It’s been rescued from the sand.)

Thanks everyone who picked up trash and sent us photos, and thanks to everyone who mindfully reduces their consumption of plastic to help fight this problem.

With your help, we can enjoy burying our toes in cleaner sand.