CRLS Students’ Project Greenplate Supports Realistic Sustainability


Courtesy of Bridget Allan

Project Greenplate promotes ‘Meatless Mondays’ to provide CRLS students with a form of sustainability that is attainable.

Bridget Allan, Contributing Writer

The meat industry in the US is the biggest consumer of water making up more than half of America’s yearly water consumption. Project GreenPlate is a team of seven Cambridge high schoolers—Amina Dadou, Julia D’Amato, Ethan Kellogg, Luna Valayannopoulos-Akrivou, Nailah Jeudi, and Nicolas Valayannopoulos-Akrivou—who are working to combat water waste. They got started by working together in CRLS’s 2020 Glocal Challenge, on the prompt “Water Water Everywhere, and Not a Drop to Waste.” They decided to focus on reducing water waste created by the meat-processing and meat-consuming industries after speaking with CEO and founder of Automated Water Machines, Manuela Zoninsein. Now, they host online events and share information with the community on how to reduce water waste through healthy food options.

Project GreenPlate’s core value is that “any change, no matter how large or small, can make a significant impact.” A big part of their work is promoting the practice of ‘Meatless Mondays’ as a way for people to make a small adjustment to their dietary habits that can have a large impact on the environment. Meatless Mondays are an opportunity to dedicate one day per week to eating meat free meals. Amina Az-Zahraa, a senior and member of Project GreenPlate, shared, “Meatless Mondays are basically so that people can start their week with a healthy habit, as studies show that people who start a goal at the beginning of the week are better able to maintain progress over time.” Az-Zahraa says the point of Meatless Mondays “is not to omit meat completely from people’s diets but rather to raise awareness of meat’s impact on the environment and to encourage people to switch to plant-based choices for a sustainable environment.” If just 100 CRLS students participated in Meatless Mondays for a month, they could save approximately 660,000 gallons of water, enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool.

To get started with Meatless Mondays, you can be as strict or carefree as you’d like.

— Julia Damato '23

So how can you get started with Meatless Mondays? Julia Damato 23, a Project GreenPlate member, advised, “To get started with Meatless Mondays, you can be as strict or carefree as you’d like. It is a good idea to avoid transitioning straight to a vegan diet, as that is often unsustainable if not preceded by a vegetarian lifestyle. Take some time to occasionally try out a vegetarian lifestyle on some Mondays and check out Project GreenPlate’s Instagram—@project_greenplate—for inspiration. Hopefully these ideas prove that there are so many amazing vegetarian options for you to explore and encourage you to go meatless every Monday.” Every Monday, Project GreenPlate shares plant-based recipes on their instagram page and you can also find recipes on their website and YouTube channel. Az-Zahraa shared her favorite plant-based recipe, “Lentil burgers! Lentils are a great meat substitute having the same meaty consistency as meat and are also packed with protein.” 

The meat and dairy industries create massive amounts of water waste every year. Eating plant-based meals every Monday is a great way to protect the environment. If communities work together, they can have large impacts. Project GreenPlate aims to make Cambridge a place where everyone comes together to help the environment through plant-based foods. On April 26th at 6 PM, Project GreenPlate will be hosting an event called Meatless Monday Madness with cooking, trivia and guest speakers. You can find more information by visiting their website or their social media page.