Nominations Due for 2013 Sustainable Princeton Leadership Awards

Help us acknowledge and celebrate Princeton's best, brightest and greenest! John Emmons with school in background

Sustainable Princeton is seeking nominations of people, organizations or businesses that are catalysts and models within our community and have preserved and improved the natural, social or economic fabric of our town.

Nominations must be submitted by Monday, January 6, 2014.  To nominate an individual or an organization, send an email to "" with the following information:

  • Name, email, phone number and address of nominee;
  • Name, email, phone number, and address of person nominating;
  • Reason for nomination.
  • Please put SPLA nomination in the subject line.

Be sure to include how the nominee has taken a leadership role in addressing one or more of the following:

  • protecting and improving the natural environment;
  • reducing waste and/or increasing recycling;
  • educating others about sustainable behavior;
  • conserving energy; using energy more efficiently; and/or using innovative or alternative energy sources;
  • meeting Princeton’s social needs fairly for instance, a sustainable response to Hurricane Sandy;
  • contributing to our community’s economic well-being.

The awards will be presented on Wednesday, January 29 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. as an opening to the Princeton Environmental Film Festival at the Princeton Public Library.  The awards ceremony and the Film Festival are free and open to the public.

Awardees from previous years include:

  • The Princeton School Gardens Cooperative, for its Garden State on Your Plate program in our public schools;
  • Friends of Princeton Open Space Trail Committee, for their quiet and consistent clearing of trails;
  • Camila Telez, a Stuart Country Day School student who founded Fair Trade Princeton in 2012;
  • Janet Pelichero, Princeton recycling coordinator who piloted the Curbside Organics Program for Princeton;
  • John Emmons and Martha Friend, Princeton Public Schools, Science Teachers;
  • Stu Orefice, Dining Services Director, Princeton University;
  • Grace Sinden, Princeton resident, who received our first Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

For more information about past Sustainable Princeton Leadership Award winners, see our previous announcements in 2012, 2011 and 2010.


How Princeton Students Can Help Reduce School Waste

As Princeton students head back to school to study the three "Rs" of reading, 'riting, and 'rithmatic, we hope they will also keep in mind another three Rs --Reduce, Reuse and Recycle--to help decrease school waste.  To see how students at the middle school put this idea into action read on below. Lessons from JW Middle School Locker Clean Out

Two large cardboard boxes filled with barely used school binders and notebooks

At the John Witherspoon Middle School locker clean out and recycling event in June, a huge amount of paper was collected for recycling.  Students, staff and parent helpers also collected barely used notebooks, pens and pencils, locker shelves and other items that could be reused.

In sorting through the debris, students learned first-hand about how different types of school supplies impact the waste stream.  For example, recycling was much more difficult when plastic covers or inserts had to be separated from paper in old notebooks and reports.  Students were also surprised by how many notebooks, binders, pens and pencils they could save for reuse.

If you still have school supplies to buy, here are some ways to reduce waste:

  • Wait to see what's really needed before buying new supplies - maybe a barely used notebook from last year can be reused.
  • Try to buy products made from recycled materials, and/or materials that can be easily recycled
  • Shop Local!  Why drive to the mall when you can find everything you need right here in Princeton?

Large gondola filled with paper recycling in school hallway.

Food Composting Coming to Princeton Public Schools

Another way for students to help reduce school waste is to participate in the District's food and organic waste composting program, which will begin this fall.  Together with Princeton's municipal curbside compost program, composting at the schools will help divert tons of waste from landfills, helping the environment and saving money for taxpayers!

Learn More

To learn more about sustainability at Princeton Public Schools and the work of our Green Schools Coalition, see this recent post on school sustainability.  Or contact Karen Nathan or Stephanie Chorney, the Green Schools Coalition co-chairs directly via our contact page.

Also see our website resource pages on recycling and home composting.

To sign up for Princeton's municipal compost program, go to this municipal website page, or contact Janet Pellichero, Princeton’s Recycling Coordinator, at 609-688-2566


Sustainability Resolution Adopted by Princeton School Board

[Updated May 1, 2013] A resolution endorsing "Principles of Sustainability" was adopted by the Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Board of Education at its April 23rd meeting at the JW Middle School cafeteria.  Kudos to the School Board and members of the Green Schools Coalition in supporting this important step forward for our school district!

Blue and white PPS School Board sign

The resolution is based on a model developed by Sustainable Jersey and emphasizes the role of the school district in building a sustainable community. Under the resolution, PPS would join the Town of Princeton and Sustainable Princeton in supporting and encouraging:

  • Student participation in learning experiences dedicated to sustainability, such as in class work, school gardens, health and wellness programs, and field trips.
  • Professional development opportunities that will support educators in preparing students for a sustainable future.
  • Sustainable practices related to energy efficiency, waste management, composting, recycling, and procurement and maintenance in Princeton Public Schools’ facilities.

If you would like more information about the resolution, please contact Karen Nathan or Stephanie Chorney, the co-chairs of the Green Schools Coalition.

Green Schools Coalition

Sustainable Princeton's Green Schools Coalition serves as the voice for parents and others in the Princeton who seek to advance sustainability in our schools. As illustrated in the chart below, the group's initiatives fall into two broad areas: Energy & Waste, and Health & Wellness. Specific goals and projects supported by the Green Schools Coalition include:

  • composting of organic waste
  • field trips and films to promote clean energy and waste reduction
  • school gardens and cafeterias as health/science engagement opportunities
  • tracking of energy efficiency improvements
  • green food service (e.g. local food, eliminate styrofoam)
  • cost savings from waste reduction and energy efficiency
  • bicycling & walking campaigns

If you can help with any of these efforts, or have other ideas for green schools projects or initiatives, please let us know!  Contact Karen Nathan or Stephanie Chorney, Green Schools Coalition co-chairs, or add your name and a note about your interest via the email sign up form on our homepage.

Chart listing Green Schools Coalition 2012-13 initiatives.

Sustainability Stories From Students and Schools

Sustainable Princeton wants to know what students are doing, saying, and thinking about environmental issues in their schools and in the world around them. We also want to know what kind of sustainable efforts are underway at local schools? Brick entrance tower at front of Princeton high school

Please share stories, projects, pictures, dreams, songs, and results of efforts run by young people in our community.  Submissions should reflect a student's own work--- such as a first grader’s poem about what we must do to improve the environmental health of our town or a pride-filled summary about how an Eagle Scout cleaned up a river. Suggestions for future sustainability projects, practical or wild, are welcomed.

Students of all ages are encouraged to forward whatever they would like to share to Theodore Casparian who will be coordinating student and school postings on this site.  PDF scans and digital photos are great, but you can also email Theodore and he will give you his mailing address for things that cannot be scanned or digitized.

Students and their parents are invited to join Sustainable Princeton’s Green Schools Council to share ideas and to help plan actions to make our schools more sustainable.  See our events page to see the time and location of our next Green Schools Council meeting.

Green Schools Council Seeks Volunteers

small group of people involved in Princeton green schools council Sustainable Princeton’s Green Schools Council is looking for volunteers to work on three project areas this fall:

  • Organize screenings of “Bag It” at each of the public schools and follow up with grade appropriate educational progams.  “Bag It” is a documentary about the impacts of plastic bags on the environment and human health.
  • Eliminate use of styrofoam trays at public school cafeterias.
  • Work with the Princeton Regional Schools Board of Education to pass a resolution in support of education for sustainability.

If you are interested in helping with any of these projects (or have ideas for other projects), please contact Karen Nathan.

The Green School Council is also trying to bring more attention to existing programs and projects in local schools that promote sustainability.  For example, at the the Princeton Regional Schools District:

  • Engineering studies are being conducted for solar panel installation on school roofs.
  • Green purchasing is being emphasized, especially for janitorial and cleaning products.
  • Teams of elementary school teachers and staff are attending workshops on engaging students in measuring energy usage, and learning about reducing and conserving energy.  The results of the students’ energy use studies will be shared in a community event to be co-sponsored by Sustainable Princeton.

We would like to provide more information about sustainable activities and events at local schools.  If you can draft a post about your school's sustainability initiatives to publish on this website, please contact Theodore Casparian.

To see a pdf of the minutes from recent Green School Council meetings, see our meeting minutes page.