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Green Schools

Back to School Green

Considering that in the U.S. we throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour and 86% of those are not recycled; going back to school offers a clean slate for a fresh start. Try "I will pack my own lunch and avoid disposable packaging" or "This will be the year I walk to school every time". Would you like to join kids around the globe to walk to school? 60,000 gallons of gasoline would be saved each day if just 6 percent of those who drive less than a mile would walk instead. Improve your health while you help the planet!

Horticultural Vinegar
To reduce the presence of poison ivy, many schools use horticultural vinegar. Horticultural vinegar is an organic product that you can order on-line and notification of its application is not required. Anyway some schools like the Verona BOE provided a notification . If you see a BOE employee using a spray dispenser on either weeds or poison ivy, please know that this is the horticultural vinegar being applied and not a chemical based weed killer. The Material Safety Data Sheet is posted on the Buildings and Grounds page of the district website. The VEC also recommended to use this product at Verona Pool. Common chemical pesticides contain glyphosate and are acutely toxic to humans. Glyphosate has been linked to Cancer, Autism, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. It was described as "extremely persistent" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Well done Verona!   

Go Styrofoam Free! We annually dump almost two million tons of petroleum-based food packaging! Foam plates, cups and trays are made from expanded polystyrene foam (also known as Styrofoam), which never decomposes. Polystyrene is not accepted for recycling in Verona. Please reduce the amount of polystyrene waste that you generate. Verona Public Schools' Cafeterias stopped using polystyrene foam dishes years ago.  "The Verona School District will be using a recycled fiber-board product for school lunches in 2012-2013." said Verona Superintendent of Schools Mr. Forte. "This is a big move away from plastics and I agree it is an important move for the environment" he added. The VEC congratulates the BOE for this green initiative, and the HBW student Lucas Konrad-Parisi who presented the petition. In short, Styro has got to go!

A healthy lunch with minimal waste: How green your lunch is depends on how much waste it produces.

  • Skip the brown bag, zip lock bags, foil and bottled water.
  • The first two ingredients of a low-waste lunch are a reusable lunch container (lead free) and a refillable bottle (made of BPA free aluminum or stainless steel).
  • Processed foods are often unhealthy and up to 25% more expensive.
  • Remember that fresh fruit like bananas and apples are healthful snacks and you can even compost the skins!
  • Avoid cans of soda, water is better for you. Bottled water is often no safer than tap water, but it can be 10,000 times more expensive.
  • Verona residents can drink tap water with confidence; municipal water is very safe, tested often and much cheaper.
  • At as much as $2.50 per liter ($10 a gallon), bottled water costs more than gasoline.
  • Pack your stainless steel cutlery; just wrap it with a cloth napkin after use for an easy cleanup at home.
  • Childhood obesity and diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate. It's more important than ever to teach healthy eating habits to our children.

Bottled Facts

Watch the video "The Story of Bottled Water"

Video released on March 2010 (more than 500,000 people already watched it!)
And drink Verona tap water with confidence, more than 1,000 tests prove the safety of our municipal water.

Why is bottled water waste a concern?

  • Just in the U.S. we use about 50 billion water bottles per year and send 38 billion water bottles to landfills.
  • 200 billion bottles are used globally per year . If all of these bottles were lined up together they would stretch to the Moon and back 56 times.
  • Those bottles could take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade.
  • Since most water bottles are made from crude oil derivatives, American demand for bottled water uses 1. 5 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel some 100,000 U.S. cars for an entire year.
Bottled water vs. tap water
  • In the United States, 24 percent of bottled water sold is bottled, purified municipal water. And about 40 percent of bottled water begins as tap water.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets very high standards for the quality of tap water. It requires multiple daily tests for bacteria and makes results available to the public. 
  • More than 1,000 annual water tests show that the municipal water in Verona is very safe to drink.
  • The Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and World Wildlife Fund have all urged their supporters to consume less bottled water.
Hydration at its best, tap water has less than 1% of the environmental impact of bottled water. Get a reusable Eco-friendly bottle and refill it! Now that is something we can all drink to!

What about paper?

Back to school is a good time to evaluate priorities for school-related consumption and habits.
  • Be kind to trees, use paper from both sides.
  • Would you like to make some paper with old homework pages? Watch this video.
  • All Verona schools recycle paper. For every ton of paper -or 220,000 sheets- that is recycled; approximately 17 trees are saved.
  • The average school tosses 38 tons of paper -about 644 trees- each year.
Purchasing post-consumer recycled paper, and making sure that it gets recycled again, can make a big difference!

PVC-Free School Supplies

Healthy schools free from toxins are critical to a child’s health and well-being. Congress just recently banned phthalates in children’s toys, yet they are widespread in other PVC products. Many children’s school supplies, such as lunchboxes, food wrap, backpacks and binders, are often made out of PVC. PVC is unique among plastics because it contains dangerous chemical additives such as phthalates, lead, cadmium, and/or organotins. Children are at risk from even small exposures to these toxic chemicals. That’s why it’s important to purchase PVC free school supplies.

PVC products are often labeled with the words “vinyl” on the packaging, such as vinyl 3-ring binders. To identify PVC packaging, first look for the universal recycling symbol. If it has the number “3” inside it, or the letters “V” or “PVC” underneath it, you know the product is made out of PVC. Just remember – bad news comes in #3’s, don’t buy PVC. To be safe, choose non-plastic products whenever possible.

For more information please read this PVC-Free Guide.