Ways to Go Green

These resources and ideas on how to GO GREEN in school, at home and at the office were assembled by Calhoun students, parents and staff beginning with yearly theme projects. Ongoing efforts continually bring us back to the questions: Are we doing all that we can do? Are we doing what we set out to do?

Carbon Emissions and Energy

  • Establish a plan to reduce the carbon emissions or "footprint" of the school. One way to determine your carbon footprint is using this website: www.carbonfootprint.com/
  • Utilize solar power and other forms of alternative energy. The Green Power Network at www.eere.energy.gov/greenpower lits what's available in your area.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's online calculator estimates greenhouse emissions that result from your household energy use and waste disposal. Get your number at www.epa.gov/climate.
  • Find out which electronics and appliances are energy efficient at www.energystar.gov.
  • Work with companies and organizations listed in Co-op America's National Green Pages - a directory of green businesses across the U.S.

Paper Reduction

  • Use more e-mail and other electronic forms of communication. Make print mailings (or paper copies) only one option.
  • Use technology more in the classrooms, at home, etc.
  • Reuse paper products--both sides of paper, one paper cup throughout the day, etc.
  • Purchase paper products made from recyclable materials. Ask for these at your local vendor. http://www.newleafpaper.com/ and http://www.greendotprint.com/ (the latter, based in Manhattan) may be able to meet your paper needs.
  • Stop catalogue delivery. The following info is helpful with this task: Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735, 212-768-7277

Reuse and Recycle

  • New York City's Sanitation Dept offers numerous tips on how to reuse, repair or donate second-hand items. Click here.
  • Reuse materials, donate clothing, toys and other items in usable condition. Debbie Aronson, Director of Community Service, works with many students and their donating ideas. Contact her to see if there is a current collection that interests you.
  • Textbook donation: The first thing to do is contact the specific teacher to see if she/he wants the book back for a classroom set. If he/she does not want the book back, textbooks can also be donated to Project Cicero. The school organizes a book collection in the Spring. Contact Debbie Aronson, Director of Community Service, if you have any questions.
  • Recycle paper, plastic, bottles. (Calhoun has renewed its recycling efforts with new containers around the both buildings and more student involvement.)

Food Co-ops and Sustainable Choices

  • Join Calhoun's Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program or a food co-op near your home.
  • Focus on ecologically sustainable agriculture/animal husbandry as you make your food choices. http://www.slowfoodusa.org/ has tons of info about what their program and activities.
  • Buying locally saves fuel and helps farmers nearby. Find lists of local farmers markets at www.localharvest.org or www.usda.gov.


Private automobiles are a leading source of greenhouse gases and other pollution. Here are some steps that the Calhoun community is taking to do its part to "go green" en route to school:

  • When possible, bike, walk or use mass transit. There's a bike rack on the plaza of the 81st Street building.
  • Donated bicycles are now available for faculty/staff to commute between our two buildings!
  • Join other Calhoun parents/students biking to school in the morning (group bicycling is safer because the adults can escort in front and behind). Parent Steve Vaccaro is interested in this topic; contact him at svaccaro@debevoise.com to talk more.
  • The DOT has just marked two bike lanes, running the length of West 77th and West 78th Streets. This is the first cross-town "Class II" bike lane south of Harlem and north of Greenwich Village. Class II bike lanes are protected from motor vehicle traffic by a solid line and carry heightened penalties for persons driving, parking, or standing in the way. These new lanes help make biking to Calhoun much more safe, convenient and viable.
  • If you are driving, please do not leave your car idling (or please ask your driver not to idle) while you escort your child to class.
  • Campaign for greater pedestrian/bike safety for the Calhoun community.
  • There are other efforts underway, to make Central Park completely car-free and otherwise improve pedestrian/bike safety in our community. For info, see site: www.transalt.org. We hope to involve Calhoun students in these and other projects. Please email Josephine or Dana if you are interested in getting involved.
  • Compare fuel-efficiency rates and learn about green tax credits at www.fueleconomy.gov.

Projects You Can Do With Kids at Home

  • Have your children sign up at www.mtv.com/thinkmtv for daily green tips via text message.
  • Spend more time outdoors, connecting with nature — i.e. at Black Rock Forest, Central Park.
  • Create an outdoor / environmental activity.
  • Include environmental issues as they relate to other topics of discussion at the dinner table: current events, politics, science, math, economics, social studies, cultural studies, etc.
  • Find out how to get involved in the project to measure the speed of cars traveling on West End using a radar gun.
  • Create and disperse a survey to the school community about how people get to school. Share the results.
  • Weigh the garbage each week and try to reduce the weight.

Ask Yourself These Questions

At assemblies for Middle and Upper School students, guest speaker Juliet Leeming suggested we each ask the following questions before we make a purchase:

  • Is it necessary?
  • Can I find it second-hand?
  • Can I find products that were produced without harming the environment?
  • Can I find products that were produced by companies that provide workers with a fair salary and working conditions (Fair Trade)?
  • Can I donate materials, clothes, or toys?

Also see: Green Resources