Southborough – In October, a group of 40 Albert S. Woodward Memorial School students signed up to participate in the Green Team, an afterschool activity focused on recycling education. The Green Team, which meets twice a month, is headed by volunteer coordinators Mary Ellen Duggan (school nurse) and Jennie Bogaert (behavior specialist). Through books, videos, songs and activities, the students have been learning about the three Rs of recycling – reduce, reuse and recycle – and have used their knowledge to make significant “green” changes at Woodward.
“The mission of the Green Team is to educate, reduce waste, improve recycling, promote sustainability, support projects that benefit our environment and create responsible consumers in our school community,” said Duggan. “It is our hope to make the world a better place.”
The Green Team started off the year reading one of Duggan’s favorite books, “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss, and talking about how humans create pollution, and its negative affect on both the health of people and the planet.
Throughout the year, the Green Team has conducted a trash audit, made water bottle crafts and created “green” signs that are displayed all over the school. Additionally, the students created public service announcement videos about the three Rs which they dubbed “envirominutes” which are broadcast once a week on the morning announcements.
According to Duggan, the biggest impact the Green Team has made in the school is through recycling in the cafeteria. They started recycling milk cartons in the cafeteria at the beginning of the year, then added in all other recyclables – plastic, foil, paper bags, yogurt containers – ultimately cutting the trash output in the cafeteria by more than 25 percent.
“After helping with recycling in the cafeteria, we realized that there is a lot of waste that happens there,” said Duggan. “So the Green Team made a list of ‘green’ ideas for the cafeteria and presented it to the district food services director, Kyle Parson, and the cafeteria manager, Nancy Hite.”
In response, Parson attended a Green Team meeting to talk to the students about their ideas.
Through a grant from the Southborough Community Fund, the Green Team will be joining ReFoamIt to host a town-wide Polystyrene/Styrofoam recycling event Saturday, April 9, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Woodward School, 28 Cordaville Road. A full list of accepted items is available at http://www.refoamit.com/foam-we-recycle/. Students will also be collecting button cell batteries to recycle and empty medication containers to donate to the Matthew 25: Ministries in Cincinnati. MassSAVE will be there as well with an information table.
In addition to the Southborough Community Fund grant, Duggan has received a grant from Corridor Nine to provide gloves and aprons and a grant from the Northborough Junior Woman’s Club which will enable the school to purchase silverware and reusable ketchup bottles for the cafeteria.
The Green Team has joined with the Woodward SOS to promote their ongoing Textile Recycling Fundraiser. Donation boxes are located outside each Southborough school. A full list of accepted items is available at http://baystatetextiles.com/acceptable-items/. Additionally, the Green Team has an ongoing fundraiser through MightyNest.com – a company that provides non-toxic, eco-friendly products – with 15 percent of purchases going back to the school.
“The students really love recycling,” said Duggan. “We definitely were surprised by the number of kids who stuck with it throughout the year. It is so rewarding for them to know that they have made a difference and their ideas influenced changed. Maybe next year we will set our sights on a garden and composting and encouraging waste-free lunches!”