Category Archives: Education

Acton Cleanup WEEK: April 22-29

Please mark your calendars and plan to participate.

Acton Cleanup Week: April 22 – April 29 

This year, Acton Cleanup will be a week long.

The Cleanup is being co-organized by the Acton Chinese-American Civic Society. You can learn more about them at the ACACS website.

The new site to let everyone know about streets that need cleaning, or streets that are already clean, and to sign up to clean streets, is ready now at actoncleanup.info.

 

We encourage everyone to sign up for a site and make a difference.  This service for your community can be done anytime from Saturday April 22 through April 29.

On Saturday April 29, our usual Cleanup Day crews with a list of areas needing your help will be available to give out bags and gloves, and collect the debris that has been removed from the streets and paths of our town.

Stay tuned for details!  Or contact us today at cleanup@greenacton.org .

First Lego League Presentation

First Lego League 6th grade girls’ team presentation: Microfiber pollution of oceans. All from different schools. There are three parts to this team’s competition project: (1) the project they’re presenting today, for which they had to research a problem within the theme of interaction between humans and animals (“animal allies”). They chose how microfibers (tiny plastic shards from fleece clothing) can end up in the ocean, be eaten by organisms, and then move up the food chain. They did a presentation in the form of a skit; (2) a robot game, on the same theme (animal allies), in which robots have to complete missions; (3) sharing their project with their communities.

Microfibers are teeny bits of fabric, from fleece clothing, that shed in the washing machine, and often end up eventually in the oceans. Fish are eating them either directly or indirectly, and 700 marine species are in danger. The fish on our plate may contain microfibers. Microfibers have been found in beer in Germany.

Before water from washing machines goes to oceans, it typically goes through treatment plants. Yet, there are so many of these fibers in the water that even if they filter out 15% of them, the volume entering oceans is huge. Upgrading treatment plants is challenging and expensive. Scientists are working on making washing machines more efficient at trapping these fibers. The team reached out to 200 adults and a few kids and only a few knew about microfibers and their effect on the planet.

How to prevent? Wash clothes only when necessary, in full loads, in cold water, and at lower speeds/gentle cycles. Using liquid soap and fabric softeners helps. The fabric industry is researching fabrics to figure out how to manufacture clothes that don’t have this problem; Patagonia is the premier example. There is a product in prototype (available 2017) that would go into the wash and capture microfibers. Polyester (including fleece), rayon, acrylic, and all synthetic fabrics are the culprits; natural fibers (cotton, wool, linen) do not present this problem. The older the item, the more fibers it sheds. President Obama signed a law last year (which will take effect next year) that will ban the use of microplastic beads in personal care items, but that doesn’t include microfibers for fabric.

The team became interested in this problem — discovered by ecologist Dr. Mark Browne and published in 2011 —through an article they read in school. The team, which meets 3–4 times each week, was featured in an article in the Acton Beacon, and has shared its findings with the local community and the New England Aquarium. They have completed one regional tournament, and will now go on to statewide competition. The group will continue to work to raise awareness of this problem; they may do a presentation for the local schools and perhaps for the 2017 AB PIP-STEM fest.

For more info: http://www.firstlegoleague.org/challenge

Black Lives Matter statements of October 2016

The Green Acton Board of Directors just issued two statements through our social media accounts:

• Twitter: Real sustainability = every person & voice are included & valued. After centuries of racism & exclusion, we agree: #BlackLivesMatter.

• Facebook: Green Acton’s focus is primarily local, but we know that our small community is interdependent with the wider world’s concerns. Long-range sustainability means every person and voice must count. To unpack and heal centuries of systemic racism, and to ensure that everyone is valued and included, we understand the importance of affirming that #BlackLivesMatter.

These posts were the result of discussions at the July and October 2016 Green Acton meetings, at which we talked about the connections among racism, inequalities, environmental damage, and environmental justice. We noted that, although we are a local organization, focused primarily on Acton, we understand that our small community is interdependent with the wider world’s concerns, and that achievement of our broader sustainability goals means that changes will need to happen in the rest of the nation and world, as well as here at home.

Globally: we note that people who live near the equator, in deserts and tropics, are feeling the damaging effects of climate change first, and that these are areas populated largely by brown- and black-skinned people. Without clear empathy and a sense of connection to all sorts of people, white environmental activists in northern climes might not appreciate fully the urgency of stopping climate change.

Nationally: we recognize that much of everyday life in the United States has been distorted by a narrative of white supremacy, which allowed slavery and its persistent and insidious residue — a broad system of racial oppression that has huge impacts on black people’s lives. Silence in the face of oppression permits it to continue; we felt called to make a statement.

Locally: we recognize that Green Acton itself has room to grow as an organization, and that we’d benefit by the addition of people with a wider variety of life experiences, including more people from racial and ethnic minorities.

Broadly: we recognize that progress on environmental — and economic, social, and racial — justice necessitates that we connect across our “silos” of activity and advocacy to speak up and out. At every level, we understand that undoing racism is part of the work of making progress on environmental sustainability that works for all.

Going forward: One way we will continue this work is to look at how our planned actions in the coming years can be more inclusive. Another step we will take is to identify the local groups engaged in this justice work, and pass on their calls to action to our membership. We look forward to continuing this dialogue with all of you.

Green Acton Board of Directors

Debby Andell
Jane Ceraso
Sue Cudmore
Danny Factor
Karen Herther
Sue Jick
Steve Long
Debra Simes
Jim Snyder-Grant

Tribute to Charlotte Sagoff – Social Justice

From  John Abernethy: Continue reading

Planet Chillers: 2014 Siemens Team

The Planet Chillers came to Green Acton in the Spring of 2014. They spoke to us about the impact of food choices on climate change. Continue reading

Black Gold Miners – 2011 Junior High School Siemens Team

The Black Gold Miners came to Green Acton in 2011. Continue reading

Siemens Challenge

The Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge is the premier national environmental sustainability competition for K–12 students. Through project-based learning, students learn about science and conservation while creating solutions that impact the planet.

Green Acton is honored to host meetings at which these students can present their projects, get feedback, and answer questions. Some of the student groups we’ve worked with are:

  • Planet Chillers
  • Ace ReDeucers
  • Black Gold Miners
  • Siemens Jr. High team: Global Warming, Livestock Farming, and Food Choices
  • Siemens Sr. High team: Addressing Global Warming and Air Pollution by Increasing the Truck Fuel Efficiency
  • Envirothon team: Acton PAYT project

Acton’s Green Communities projects

After being certified as a Green Community in 2010, the town of Acton applied for and received funding from the state each year after that. Here’s a partial list of projects: Continue reading

The Green Communities Act

In 2008, Massachusetts enacted the Green Communities Act  that boosts energy efficiency and encourages investment in renewable energy. Continue reading

AB PIP STEM

http://www.actonpip.org/
AB-PIP-STEMThe Acton-Boxborough Parent Involvement Project is a volunteer organization of parents, educators, and community partners promoting Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) K-12 education in Acton and Boxborough, Massachusetts.

They have been key partners with Green Acton in a number of events and projects.