Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sprouts of Hope: Learning About Sustainability

Sustainability—Now a Part of Our Schools

By Maya

The Sprouts of Hope had the opportunity to meet with the Cambridge Public School’s new Sustainability Coordinator, Kristen von Hoffman. She has a lot of experience with environmental issues; before she took this job, she was the founder of Greenfox schools, a nonprofit organization that works to make schools green and sustainable.

One of the things that Kristen does is work with Meryl Brott to expand composting in the schools!

Meryl helped King Open to start a pilot composting program and now she and Kristen are working with other schools to make composting part of what kids do with food waste. The city’s Department of Public Works, where Meryl works, put

together a manual with Frequently Asked Questions that explains how to set up composting in a school cafeteria —and we hope all of the schools in Cambridge will be doing this soon.

So far, King Open, the 9th Grade Campus, and the Graham & Parks schools are composting their cafeteria leftovers. From September to February, these schools have composted more than 14,500 pounds and saved more than 14,500 lbs of CO2, according to Meryl and Kristen. That's equal to the weight of 1.75 elephants.

Kristen is now working to create and implement a sustainability plan for the school district. The five main categories she uses to look at the whole picture of the sustainability in the schools are energy, waste, food, products, and green space. She devised a report that outlines the major goals and she named the program, Cambridge Green Schools Initiative (CGSI).

She wanted to hear our ideas as she works to create a CGSI website. Here are a few we came up with:

Making a YouTube video

Advertising on Facebook

Drawing a logo

Posting photo albums and other visuals

Tying in with our blog—The Sprouts of Hope Kids

Advertising in areas around the high school

Holding contests to get kids involved

Thinking of a motto

Including sustainability projects in community service hours


Having kids take a sustainability pledge

Including links to a group page

Anything else to engage the community.

We even started think of more acronyms for the five parts of sustainability — energy, waste, food, products and green space — and by the time Kristen left we had sketched a possible logo that she took home with her.

During the meeting we also discussed the importance of biodiversity, reforestation and, of course, sustainability. Population is increasing, so sustainability is vital. We all can and we all need to make a difference.

Kristen also told us about geo-engineering. Geo-engineering is about the way we look at changing the world while keeping in mind the big picture. Sustainability is one of the components involved with engineering the earth. A main focus is eliminating the effects of climate change. She told us about some of the earth-saving inventions, such as panels that deflect sunlight and how it ultimately deflects heat; naval ships that can do chemical reactions for climate change; and man-made trees that suck in carbon dioxide and transfer it into hydrogen.

We definitely learned a lot from the meeting and we are hope to have a chance to follow up on all the ideas we discussed to launch a great website for CGSI.

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