Sustainability at Tufts

Month: March 2012 (page 1 of 10)

Hodgdon reduces plastic bottle usage by 73%

The 24oz light blue Nalgene with a water bottle-stomping elephant on it has become a familiar sight around the Tufts Medford campus. Making appearances on the T, Boston Common, and even at Logan Airport, it has become a way to identify Tufts students outside of the immediate confines of campus. But what was responsible for the popularity of this particular water bottle?

At the beginning of the Fall 2011 semester, returning students found that single-serving beverages from water to fruit juice had been eliminated from Hodgdon Good-to-Go. Members of an environmental action ExCollege class along with the Environmental Justice and U.S. Literature class  joined to form “Tufts Against Plastic” (TAP), the driving force behind the plastic bottle reduction effort. (In previous semesters, the ExCollege class had led campaigns that ultimately eliminated trays from the dining halls and changed default printer settings across campus to double-sided.) During the Spring 2011 semester, TAP campaigned to raise awareness about the issues surrounding bottled water and circulated a petition to eliminate their sale in Hodgdon.

Tufts Dining gladly obliged and made the necessary changes to support the effort, which included giving away the reusable “Choose to Reuse” water bottle for free with the sale a fountain drink during the first two weeks of the fall semester. Dining has since made the Nalgene bottles available for sale wherever plastic bottles of water are still sold, and they offer a beverage discount for those who bring reusable bottles to Hodgdon Good-to-Go, Tower Café, Mugar Café, and The Commons. Those who forget their bottles pay 20c extra for using plastic cups, which can then be recycled.

A full semester after the initial change took place, Director of Dining and Business Services Patti Klos, estimated a reduction of over 133,000 disposable bottles per semester! That’s 73% fewer bottles from the previous school year when single-serving beverage bottles were still sold in Hodgdon.

One of the water stations installed at Grand Canyon National Park (Photo: Grand Canyon NPS/flickr)

Tufts is now part of a growing trend that can be seen across universities nationwide, although it’s not just college campuses joining the fight against bottled water. This past February, the Grand Canyon National Park announced it would discontinue the sale of bottled water inside the park, responding to growing concerns that scattered empty bottles were ruining views of the natural wonder. Prior to the National Park Services approving a plan to eliminate the sale of the bottles, 10 water stations were installed throughout the park to allow visitors to refill their own water bottles. Officials estimated that plastic water bottles accounted for nearly 20% of the park’s overall waste. Zion National Park and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park have implemented similar bans on disposable water bottles.  Tufts Dining also installed water stations to promote bottle refilling instead of water purchase in a few locations.

While all of this news may seem encouraging to many students and environmental activists, it hasn’t come without a powerful response from the bottled water industry. The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), a trade organization consisting of companies in the bottled water industry, has launched a defensive campaign against the “misinformation” being used to attract students to the movement. As a part of the response, the IBWA created a YouTube video to voice its side of the bottled water issue, suggesting that the cause is unworthy of students’ energy and resources. The video instead proposes that students tackle more pertinent social and economic injustices, such as racial discrimination and tuition hikes. The IBWA also argues that banning bottled water is taking away the choice of a product they claim is a healthy alternative, easy to recycle, and safer than tap water. A majority of activists disagree with most of these claims, arguing that bottled water contributes to excessive waste, and that companies have privatized what should be considered a human right into a profitable commodity.

Whether you agree or disagree with the elimination of plastic water bottles on college campuses, the evidence for Tufts is clear: plastic bottle waste has significantly decreased, which is a step in the right direction in creating a more sustainable future.

For more information, visit “Bottled water is out, water bottles are in at Hodgdon Good-To-Go.”

Apr 1: Cultivating Food Movement Webinar, Real Food Challenge

Sunday, April 1, 2012 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM EDT

There is an explosion of passion amongst young people dedicated to food system transformation — from young farmers to community organizers to policy advocates.


• How do you cultivate the relationships and skills necessary to pursue a lifelong career in the food movement?
• Where do you start?
• What should you do?


Join the Real Food Challenge Alumni Network with a panel of young food system change-makers to hear their stories and advice about how they got to where they are, and how you can get there too!

Cynthia Mathys is currently a Research Support Specialist in the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University and works on a variety of projects related to food security, food aid, and index-based livestock insurance.

Sue DeBlieck is a Real Food alumni focused on farm to school and youth education projects.  As a student in the Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture she helped initiate the Farm to ISU program at Iowa State University.  She later coordinated the Downeast Farm to School program working with 40 schools in Maine.  She is the program coordinator of the AgCulture Youth Food and Farm Program for Urban Dreams.

Hải Võ là người Việt Kinh, born in Iowa and raised by refugee parents in Orange County, California.  A queer, first-generation Vietnamese-American, Hải helps organize Live Real, CANFIT, and Nutrition by Tradition.  Based in southern California, Hải is passionate about traditional food(ways), (e)advocacy, popular education, and returning to Việt Nam in the very near future.

Drew Love currently works for NOFA/Mass (Northeast Organic Farming Association of Massachusetts) and Deans Beans, an organic fair trade coffee roaster. With NOFA, he coordinates workshops on local food production, preparation, and preservation, in addition to organizing a pilot project to connect low-income populations with MA CSA programs. His work with Dean’s Beans focuses on social media strategies and marketing.

Mar 30: 6th Annual Babson Energy and Environmental Conference

6th Annual Babson Energy and Environmental Conference
Energy, Environment, & Entrepreneurship — Challenging Assumptions, Changing Perceptions

Please join us on Friday, March 30th, 2012 for the 6th annual Babson Energy and Environmental Conference.  During this day-long event we will address the real challenges and the exciting opportunities in energy, alternative transportation, sustainable development, Cleantech investing, and several other crucial topics within the energy and environmental space.

This year’s theme is “Energy, Environment & Entrepreneurship: Challenging Assumptions, Changing Perceptions.”

Come ask tough questions about the direction of green innovation and what issues entrepreneurs face in the green space.

With a compelling list of speakers, the day is guaranteed to be enlightening and fun!

Keynote Speakers:
·         Ian Bowles – Former Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Commonwealth of Massachusetts;  Managing Director, Rhumb Line Energy LLC
·         Mark Rodgers – Director of Communications, Cape Wind
·         T.I. (Tahmid) Mizan, Senior Technology Planning Advisor, ExxonMobil Corporation
·         Dr. Leonard Schlesinger – President, Babson College
·         Dr. Richard Miller – President, Olin College
·         Mark Donohue – Conference Founder & Founding Sponsor

Other Speakers Include:
·         Craig Scott – Manager of Advanced Technologies, Toyota
·         Kazunari Yoshimura – Representative, Global Water Japan
·         Lynnette McIntire – Director of Sustainability, UPS
·         Brad George, Assistant Professor, Entrepreneurship, Babson College

Panels Include Topics:
·         The Reality of Electric Vehicles
·         Food Packaging: Cost vs. the Environment
·         Challenges and Opportunities in Green Buildings
·         Future of Financing for Renewable Energy Projects
·         Water in the Developing World: Harsh Reality and Inspiring Innovations

Conference attendees will have the opportunity to learn about key issues driving the Cleantech and environmental space, while addressing the most relevant issues to entrepreneurs, innovators, investors, and practitioners. Further, attendees will have the opportunity to network with approximately 500 industry professionals and MBA students.

For more information about the conference or to REGISTER, click here.

Apr 4: Spring Convocation of Students Working With Sustainability Coordinators

Come to the FIRST EVER Spring Convocation
of Students Working With Sustainability Coordinators!

If you are interested in efforts to advance sustainability on campus, participate

April 4, 2012 at Hampshire College, Amherst, Franklin Paterson Hall.

Mingle: 8-9 AM.  Presentations:  9-12.  Working sessions: 1-3:30


The morning will have presentations from students and others, including:

Emerson College:  Matthew Durham and Erin Moriarty, on                                                                         Transitioning from Bottled Water to Tap

Bunker Hill Community College:  Leonila Téllez-Valle, on

The Frugal Flushing Water Conservation Project

UMass Amherst:  Sarah Herbert, on

Updating the Campus Climate Action Plan

Suffolk University: Thomas Applegate, on

“Dump and Run” for Move-out Donations and Signage

Worcester State University: Jonathan McGee, on

Converting Waste Oil from Fryolators Into Useable Biodiesel

Boston University: Nairika Murphy, on

Making Sustainability Sustainable: Utilizing Existing Infrastructure & Tools


The afternoon will have breakout working sessions on how colleges can work together – how you can connect with students interested in sustainability from other institutions, and what message you want to send to college presidents, concerning sustainabilityContribute constructive suggestions!  Meet students from other colleges!  The results of this event will be shared with the presidents and sustainability coordinators of Massachusetts colleges and universities.  Make your voice heard! Bring a carload of students!  Other reasons to come:

  • Hear the new president of Hampshire College, Jonathan Lash, the former director of the President’s Commission on Sustainable Development and former president of the World Resources Institute.
  • Hear about the worldwide campus sustainability movement from Sarah Brylinksi of Second Nature, the group that organizes the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.
  • Hear Nadav Malin, president of BuildingGreen, present on BuildingGreen Suite, a web resource used by faculty, students, sustainability and facilities staff at over 100 colleges and universities.
  • Learn about internships, green chemistry, pollution prevention, and other great topics.

For further information, contact:  Rick Reibstein, 617 626 1062, or see Hampshire College’s website here.
This event is sponsored by the Massachusetts School Sustainability Coordinators Roundtable, Second Nature, and Hampshire College.

Apr 27: Massachusetts College & University Recycling Council Meeting

It’s time for the Massachusetts College & University Recycling Council to meet once again. The next meeting, with a focus on organics diversion, will take place at:

Clark University
Worcester, MA
April 27, 2012
9 AM – Noon

The college and university sector is at the forefront of organics diversion in Massachusetts. Schools have stepped up their efforts to reduce waste at the pre-consumer and post-consumer stages, with some programs extending to on-site composting and overall more sustainable food service approaches. Sodexho at Clark University was recently recognized for its sustainable food service efforts by MassRecycle.

Come to this meeting to hear regulatory and policy updates related to organics recycling, learn about assistance available to implement or augment organics diversion programs, and hear from Clark and your fellow institutions of higher learning about their programs and lessons learned.  And please feel free to share your own story.

A formal agenda with event details, meal and parking information, etc. is forthcoming.

If you are interested in attending or have any questions about the event, please contact Sean Sylver of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection at 617-292-5747 or

The Massachusetts College & University Recycling Council is a technical council that supports environmental program leaders at institutions of higher education in managing resource, recycling and waste issues. CURC provides technical assistance, education, training, networking opportunities and support to help members better manage their campus waste.

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