Archive for the ‘Natural Resources’ category

Ban the Bag! Green Schools Alliance Conference at Hewitt

March 3, 2013
Green Team at Hewitt

Green Team at Hewitt

This Saturday March 2nd, the Green Gremlins Team attended the Green Schools Alliance “Ban the Bag” conference at the Hewitt School.  We had the opportunity to listen to a student-moderated panel about how New York City might implement a plastic bag ban similar to those in place in cities like San Francisco, Delhi, Mexico City, and Portland.  At the main panel, we heard some of surprising facts about trash, and even more surprising solutions being worked on, from Jennie Romer, founder of Plastic Bag Laws, Ron Gonen, Mayor Bloomberg’s Deputy Commissioner for Recycling and Sustainability, Stiv Wilson, from the 5 Gyres Institute, Eric Goldstein from the NRDC, Matie Quinn of SIMs Recycling, and city Councilmember Brad Lander. Did you know?: Each month, 2 million pounds of trash that could be recycled ends up in our landfills, shipped to OH, NC, and DE.  Much of this if food related, and plastic bags are a big part of the problem.   While taking hundreds of years to decompose, they bioaccumulate in ocean food chains, ultimately harming humans. During our Green Team meeting this week, our group will discuss how GCS kids can get involved in the upcoming campaign to ban plastic bags in NYC, and we will discuss how our current collaboration with the Al Hekma International School in Bahrain, through the NAIS Global 20/20 Challenge, focusing on deforestation, will incorporate a discussion of forest resources and paper bags.


NOVA’s Earth From Space

February 27, 2013

This week the Green Gremlins watched clips from the new NOVA program “Earth from Space.”  We learned new things about the importance of forests.

From our students:

“We learned that the Amazon Rainforest produces most of its own oxygen but the plankton who feed off of the the nutrients from the Amazon come up and produce a lot of oxygen that we breathe.  Plankton also releases nitrates that are good for us when it is evaporated into rain that eventually falls on land. ”

“Forest fires can lead to new life, so while humans don’t like forest fires that affect their land, some fires are good.”

“We learned about how everything on the earth contributes to a much bigger cycle that allows us to live, even things that seem dangerous like lightening and fire.”

We hope you can see this film too – it is available online at

The Lorax is a MUST READ!

February 17, 2013

While exploring the issues around Deforestation for the Global 20/20 Challenge, the Green Gremlins thought about how children in the United States learn to think about forest resources.  Many children read and explore Dr. Seuss’s, or Theodor Geisel’s, THE LORAX.  This book, written when Dr. Seuss was on vacation in Kenya, had a huge impact on the environmental movement, and even made its way into conversations about eventual legislation such as the Clear Air Act.

After analyzing some of the story and learning about deforestation rates worldwide, our students wrote about why they thought the book was important.  Explore their statements, as well as the video links below!

“The Lorax is about a magical creature that tells a man not to cut down trees because the animals use the trees to live.  The animals then leave because the trees are all gone.  The book tries to teach kids not to waste our environment.”

“I like the colors in the book, but it is important because I believe that the Lorax teaches kids the effects of cutting down trees.”

“The Lorax teaches kids to care about deforestation and to care about the earth because it could affect you and others.”

While exploring the book, we learned some amazing facts.  For example, forest resources gathered before deforestation are more valuable than those gathered after trees are cut down.  We learned that many people living in the rainforest in countries like Brazil have had to live with less and less because of deforestation for cattle.  We also learned that the medicines and other resources lost through deforestation can not be regained easily – they were gathered by local people over thousands of years.

Is there a book that your students think all kids should read about trees?

Questions about Hurricanes and Climate

November 3, 2012

First, it is wonderful to hear that our families at GCS are safe and that we can be together again on Monday.    As I read the news and listened to statements made by city officials and political leaders, I imagined that many kids had questions about how this storm relates to global warming and climate change.

Can a storm be blamed on climate change?  It must be frustrating to hear adults say, “yes and no.”  As you may have already heard, it’s complicated!  Remember that climate is a “big picture” description of how an ecosystem works, and is measured over long periods of time.  ”Weather,” including storms and heat waves, are things that happen day-to-day.  However, changes in weather patterns do indicate changes in climate.  Scientists often say that they can’t answer questions about individual storms because all the “pieces of the pattern” for climate have not yet been observed.  They do say, however, that the pattern, so far, stongly suggests climate change is happening.

Some weather and temperature patterns, like the surface ocean temperatures, and the number of days we have “heat wave” conditions, are strongly associated with a change in climate.  Other patterns, like storms, are less easy to pin down.  A warming planet should tend to have bigger, wetter, and longer -lasting storms.   Not necessarily more hurricanes, however.    Some scientists have said that Sandy’s severity can be attributed to climate change, thanks to the changes we’ve seen this season in ocean temperatures, and the loss of arctic sea ice.  I’m sure the storm will be studied extensively.

In the mean time, remember that with or without storms, NYC could be a much more sustainable city.  We could build better green buildings, have more effective waste disposal systems, protect our rivers and waterways, and make better choices in how we use natural resources.  Being “green” doesn’t require giant climate change or global warming problems to be a good idea!  And being greener could make our recovery less difficult, and vulnerability to disaster lower. Additionally, climate change’s role in the storm is not in dispute, rather, the degree of its’ contribution.

Hurricane Facts

For those of you on the Green Team looking for places to get involved in environmental clean up, please see these links.

New Community work possibilities;

Earth Day Update: GCS’s Ranking in the Green Power Partnership is now #17!

April 23, 2012

EPA recognizes Grace Church School among nation’s leading green power purchasers

“Grace Church School announces today that it has increased its ranking to No. 17 on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Top 20 K-12 Schools list of the largest green power purchasers. This increased purchase further demonstrates Grace Church School’s commitment to protecting the environment and builds upon its existing partnership with EPA’s Green Power Partnership. Grace Church School is purchasing more than 1 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually, which is enough green power to meet 100 percent of the organization’s electricity use. Grace Church School is buying a utility green power product from Green Mountain Energy. This demonstrates a proactive choice to switch away from traditional sources of electricity generation and support cleaner renewable energy alternatives.”

This is a huge honor and we are proud to be recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Purchasing green power helps our organization become more sustainable, while also sending a message to others across the U.S. that supporting clean sources of electricity is a sound business decision and an important choice in reducing climate risk.

Both Sides Now….

December 7, 2011

Mr. Reilly’s class is a triple-threat – using both sides of their papers AND recycling!

Penguins Need Sweaters Too!

November 6, 2011

 “It’s practically impossible to look at a penguin and feel angry.” Maybe you heard the story on the Weather Channel, or on the news (see ABC story here).  Due to an oil spill off the coast of New Zealand, endangered penguins need an unusual kind of help.  Penguin Sweaters!

Why would penguin sweaters help wildlife during an oil spill?  This is truly a case of “cute comes to the rescue.”  The yarn store SKEINZ sent internet instructions out to the world, hoping that knitters could create sweaters for small penguins who could suffer damaging affect from ingesting oil while preening.  Knitters answered the call, and a sea of sweaters were mailed to NZ.  Here is my contribution – on its way to the Kiwis!

More Details;

“On Oct. 5, a cargo ship ran aground in New Zealand, pouring 350 tons of oil into the ocean. The accident has been regarded as the country’s worst environmental disaster in decades.  More than 1,000 sea birds have already died as a result of the spill, including birds from the country’s native blue penguin population.  Oil can be extremely harmful to penguins, whose feathers are very different from other birds. They have very dense and tiny feathers of different lengths that stick onto them like Velcro, creating a waterproof pseudo-wetsuit.”