Archive for November 2010

“Civilization is a limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities.” – Mark Twain

November 30, 2010

From one Mark to another!  Our history teacher, Mr. Weinsier, has a green habit that many teachers share – using a re-usable mug for hot drinks.  This holiday season, carry your cocoa in a re-usable mug.  “A report conducted jointly by the Alliance for Environmental Innovation and Starbucks found that 1.9 billion cups were used by Starbucks in 2000.[5]  In 2006, Starbucks reported that this figure had grown to 2.3 billion cups for use at their stores.” Typically, the paper used for coffee cups is made of new trees, not recycled paper.  Manufacturing these cups takes a lot of water, and energy.  Crazy, considering that they are usually used once. (source 1 & source 2 with more facts about coffee cup use)

Mark shares his mug story;  “I use my favorite reusable mug — a gift from friends at our partner school in New Delhi, India — whenever I go to the faculty room for my favorite Earl Grey tea.  Two years ago, I used to take a new cup every time I drank tea — and that wasted a lot of cups.  One day I decided I was going to bring in a mug from home, so I brought in the one from Vasant Valley.  (Sometimes I even add a little of a spice called cardamom to remind me of India!)  Now I try to challenge myself to never have tea here at school unless my mug is with me!”

Trees Made of Trees!

November 29, 2010

The Green Team, as well as various 7th, 2nd and 5th graders, helped create some stylish paper trees for this year’s Holiday Shopping event, held tomorrow (11/30) all day.  It’s an easy way to make something festive out of the many food, gift and clothing catalogues and magazines that fly in via the mail all December long.  To make your own holiday trees, see this easy instruction guide from the Crafty Crow.

Magazine Tree How-To

Looking for more ways to make your holidays green?  Try shopping at  This year, you will find many gift ideas at the online shop.  Every item you purchase has a triple-powered advantage!  You will save money, reduce your carbon footprint, and help GCS’s green efforts.  Money earned from the online shop will be used to bring more sustainable programs to our school.

“I could while away the hours conferrin’ with the flowers…” Scarecrow

November 23, 2010

Dr. Wheeler is a popular faculty member during harvest time.  His farm upstate has been delivering green beans, plums, zucchini and other delicious fresh food to the faculty room for years.  He often begins his tomatoes in the GCS greenhouse while running the greenhouse elective, so it is wonderful to see the results when the new school year begins.  Dr. Wheeler loves to talk about his crops, and always has great growing tips for gardeners.

This season, he had some friends help him set up his scarecrow outside the farm;   Dr. Wheeler shares the story behind these photos,  “The scarecrow is being set up in the fallow garden in which a cover crop of buckwheat is just coming up. The real garden is in the background, the part with the row-cover and the tiller.  In 1992 we bought a house and 13 acres in Granville, NY (Washington County) so as to have a place near my parents and a place to stay while I continued summer work as a farm hand for an area vegetable grower. The parents and the vegetable grower have passed on, but the garden we planted continues to provide corn, tomatoes, and many other good things for ourselves, our friends and family, and many local varmints: woodchucks, deer, skunks, rabbits, crows, wild turkeys, racoons, and bugs. The adversity provides the same salutary exercise for the virtue of hope as does being a Mets fan. “Wait ’til next year.”

Second Grade Goes Bananas!

November 22, 2010

Our classroom compost has been coming along very nicely.  Below, you can see a photo of the compost thus far – already looking earthy and smelling like fresh dirt in less than a month!  The second graders collected their banana peels from this week’s snack.  With about 1.8 kg of peels, we will be testing the limits of our little worms over the holiday break.  While just a small amount of food waste, it will never the less avoid the landfill, and lead to a great salad in the spring.

So far, our worms have not been able to make a dent in the “compostable” dinner fork we used at our Earth Dinner on November 4th.  We hope to see it begin to decompose this year.

Second graders have been learning about how much food Americans typically waste and throw into landfill.  A very informative article about the topic was shared during our Green Team meeting with upper school students this week. To find out more, see the NYTimes link here.

International Family Night – Eco Heroes of India

November 15, 2010

Enjoy International Family Night at GCS tonight!  The families putting the event together have an incredible list of foods, crafts, and activities to share with everyone.  Events begin at 6pm.  Performances are in Tuttle Hall.  Namaste!

“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Mohandas Gandhi

The Green Team created a flag of India out of recycled materials from all over the school, including many food containers and bottle caps.  Featured on the flag are some Eco-Heroes from India; Gandhi, Vandana Shiva, Divya Raghunandan from Greenpeace India, Nitin Desai from the Council on Climate Change, and Jairam Ramesh, Minister of the Environment of India.  Photos of everyday recycling in villages and cities were included.

“Where, you tend a rose, my lad, A thistle cannot grow.” The Secret Garden

November 15, 2010

We have many secret gardens at GCS.  Families, parents, teachers and children grow food and share their gorgeous produce more often than you would think.  We hope to feature a new gardener regularly.  This month, we have a beautiful pumpkin to share, growing in Ms. Saccone’s garden in Lynbrook, LI.  Eggplant, green pepper, sage, cucumbers, tomatoes…Ms. Saccone’s garden was full of gorgeous produce this fall.

Earth Dinner

November 15, 2010

Our Earth Dinner was a ton of fun.  We had an amazing array of organic, local and/or sustainable foods, all of them delicious.  Spinach Pie, Lasagna, Ginger Squash Soup, Pasta Salad.  Teachers, Parents and Administrators joined in to discuss food and sustainability in New York City.  We shared a list of questions, quotes and puzzles, many inspired by the Organic Valley Earth Dinner program.  Some questions we included were:

“We talk these days of “eating local”—or maybe we should call it “local-ish.” Share what local means to you. Why do you think our food system has shifted away from a regional model?”

“Tell a story about a time you spent cooking together with your child(ren). Was it a cookie disaster or delight? If you don’t have kids, share a memory of a time when your family involved you in the kitchen as a child.”

“Until 1940, most produce was organic and, until the advent of the refrigerated boxcar, it was also of necessity fresh, seasonal and local. There’s nothing radical about organic produce: It’s a return to traditional values of the most fundamental kind. Alice Waters, The Farm-Restaurant Connection

We hope to continue the Earth Dinner next year, and to host another Earth Lunch for the kids in April.  Keep posted for a list of recipes and ideas in the next few weeks.