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Go Green Newsletter

Posted by Vanessa Cowhey on May 24, 2010

Wednesdays Free of Waste, Full of Promise

On an average Wednesday, 135 Emerson students participated in Waste Free Lunch. Each Wednesday, lunch waste was reduced by approximately 30 lbs*, or more than 690 lbs over 23 weeks. If those same students brought waste free lunches all week long, Emerson would reduce the amount of garbage sent to landfills by 3,450 lbs.

The numbers speak for themselves:

  • nearly 2.7 billion juice boxes end up in landfills every year;
  • over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are used in the U.S. each year;
  • disposable lunches cost $4.02 per day, versus $2.65 for a waste-free lunch, a yearly savings of $246.60 per child.

Think about what we could do if all students participated with a waste free lunch every day during the school year.

* A newly implemented recycling program began last October, reducing the total amount of garbage generated in the lunchroom.

Start School With Smart Shopping Choices
It may be too early to think about the upcoming school year, but when you are ready, the Go Green Committee asks that you keep the environment top of mind when you shop for school supplies. Environmental responsibility isn't about giving things up; it's about making smarter choices, understanding those choices and feeling good about those choices.
- Every year Americans discard 1.6 million pens. Placed end to end, they would stretch 151 miles -- equivalent to crossing the state of Rhode Island almost four times! Shop for writing utensils (pens, pencils, markers) that include recycled content, refillable options, non-toxic inks and more environmentally responsible packaging.
- For more than 100 years, crayons have been made with a dwindling, non-renewable resource -- petroleum. Alternatives include crayons made from renewable resources. Non-toxic crayons will be marked as such on packaging. If crayons made from renewable resources are not available, choose recycled products.
- Recycled paper reduces logging and benefits forestry management, as well as reduces energy consumption, water usage and landfill space. Recycled paper is available in various percentages of recycled content from 10% to 100%. Obviously the more recycled content, the fewer resources are required.
- Many paper products (paper towels, tissue) are now made chlorine-free. Bleaching with chlorine or chlorine compounds (to make paper fibers look whiter and brighter) releases toxic carcinogens, such as dioxins, into our air and water. Another alternative to standard paper products are those made from recycled content. If every household in the U.S. replaced just one box of virgin-fiber facial tissues with 100 percent recycled sheets, we would rescue 163,000 trees from the lumberyard.
- When shopping for all-purpose cleaners, look for products that are non-toxic and biodegradable.
Natural cleaning products are less damaging to the environment and safer for humans and pets than conventional cleaners. 
- When shopping for backpacks, look for bags that use recycled and organic materials, and/or those made by manufacturers that support ethical labor practices and customer-wide recycling programs.
- Look for lead-safe, vinyl/PVC-free insulated thermal lunch bags, reusable containers, aluminum bottles, cloth napkins and stainless utensils. Most of these materials are already in your home.
- Each American throws away 1,000 lbs. of garbage every year. Thirty percent of all packaging finds its way into our solid waste stream. When shopping for school supplies, consider the packaging before purchasing. Avoid blister packaging (packaging that has a transparent plastic bubble made from polyvinyl chloride or polyethylene terephthalate mounted on a paper or plastic board). Choose items which use minimal amounts of packaging, or none at all. Finally, look for packaging that is printed with safer soy inks.
From all of us on the Go Green Committee, have a safe and environmentally-friendly summer.

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President's message

A special thank you to The Vitogiannis Family for providing lunch for our Emerson staff and teachers last week for Teacher Appreciation Week.  Everyone raved about it!  If you’d like to try it for yourself here is their address in... Continue »

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