Sustainability at Tufts

Month: March 2012 (page 2 of 10)

The good news on reusable mugs and paper cups

"Recycle meeeeee!"

You may have already heard the good news: paper cups are now recyclable! That’s right—the hot cups you use for tea or coffee can now be placed in paper recycling bins. All hot cups are made with a thin plastic lining that seals them and makes them waterproof, but since plastic only comprises less than 5% of the whole cup, the cup can be recycled as paper.

Some things to note:

  • Rinse out your cup before putting it into the recycling bin in order to remove residue that could be harmful in the recycling process.
  • Wax-lined cups are still not recyclable. In order to tell the difference between a wax and a paper-lined cup, you can simply scratch the lining of the cup with a fingernail and if anything comes off under your nail, the lining is likely wax.

Of course, while this is great news, the best way to lessen your impact with your morning coffee is to use a reusable mug. The Eco-Ambassadors at University Advancement (UA) are leading the charge.

Meaghan shows off her reusable glasses

Kim Moniz, Mini Jaikumar, and Marny Ashburne recently pioneered a UA Green Team and one of their goals is to convert their office to using only reusable mugs. The UA Green Team’s founding members have been recruiting others in Advancement to join them in thinking up ways to “make University Advancement more sustainable, raise awareness of green initiatives, and encourage people to adopt habits that will help make UA more eco-friendly.”

Their first program was a Mug Drive and Raffle. The Green Team asked office members to start the New Year by bringing in reusable cups and mugs to use at work. Every person who brought in a cup or mug could then register with a member of the Green Team and receive a sticker for their mug or glass announcing that “[Name] Thinks Green.” Then every Friday for a month, the UA Green Team pulled a name from the list of people with registered mugs to win a $25 Target gift card.

Andy's mug has something to say

At the time of the last drawing, 114 people had registered a mug or reusable cup. With 171 people in the office, about 67% of office staff participated! Some final steps in the plan included encouraging office members to bring in cups and mugs from home to donate to the office so that there would be enough reusable cups and mugs for everyone. The UA Green Team is now looking into discussing with senior management the idea of eliminating the purchase of paper cups in Advancement altogether.

The Eco-Ambassadors/UA Green Team’s success really shows how far a little initiative can go and how successful office environmental campaigns can be! However, it is important to note that although paper cups are now recyclable, they are still not the most sustainable option. It is best to still try to use reusable mugs and glasses whenever possible, but now if you cannot avoid using a paper cup, at least you can remember to recycle it.

Campus Sustainability Council update: Water Working Group kicks off

Since the official announcement from President Tony Monaco last February, members of the Campus Sustainability Council have been getting busy as each of the three working groups (focusing on Water, Energy/Emissions and Waste) began holding their regular meetings.

The Water Working Group met for the first time on March 2nd and reviewed its roles and responsibilities, which include reviewing current usage, existing initiatives and goals, as well as creating recommendations for goals and implementation plans to present to the Campus Sustainability Council.

The group found that very few institutions of higher education have any public water-related goals.  In fact, Johns Hopkins is one of a rare few that have a specific goal (to decrease university wide potable water consumption by 3%). The members also learned that many water-saving initiatives at Tufts are already underway, including:

  • Efforts to use ground water for irrigation
  • Low-flow shower heads in all Medford and Boston residence halls
  • Bathroom upgrades in Medford residence halls which include dual flush or low flush toilets
  • On‐going Medford campus condensate loss reduction efforts
  • Front Load washing machines requiring less water, energy and detergent installed in most residence hall laundry rooms
  • Rain barrels installed at 520 Boston Avenue to capture roof run‐off for landscape irrigation

The working group members discussed the differences between Tufts’ campuses, regulatory and compliance issues, the environmental impact of wastewater, ways to evaluate proposed solutions and appropriate metrics for evaluation.

Scott Horsley, a lecturer in the Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning department, and Bob Burns, Director of Tufts Facilities Services, are the co-chairs of the water working group and will be working to guide the group towards specific “SMART” goals for the university over the coming months. Sustainability standards will be incorporated into all proposals for new construction and renovation projects.

As always, Tufts community members are welcome to add their own suggestions for the working group through the easy, on-line form available on the Office of Sustainability’s website.

Mar 29: Streetalk – Boston Under After Hours

Thursday, 3/29 @ 6-9PM
Central Square Theater 4
50 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge

We’ve all asked the age ol’ question, “Why doesn’t the T stay open later?” Now you can find out why. Come watch the Boston Under After Hours documentary about what happens after the T shuts down, and the MBTA employees who work 1:30am-5:00am to make the system run smoothly the following day. With current fare increases and service cuts pending, this question is even more relevant. Why not keep the T open longer for more revenue? What can you do to keep the T going? Get insight in to the inter-workings of the T, and the current MBTA’s financial situation and service plan. Discussion with filmmakers, MBTA, and On The Move following the film.

Stay for a social hour afterwards to meet and chat with filmmakers and the stars of the film. Popcorn and snacks provided and $2 Harpoon.

Tickets: $6.00.

This event is hosted by LivableStreets Alliance and sponsored by On the Move Coalition

Apr 17: Have More Trees on Campus

Come join us Tuesday, April 17 from 9AM-12 at Boston University’s School of Hospitality Administration, 928 Commonwealth Avenue, Room 201, for presentations by Mathew Cahill of the Boston Natural Areas Network (BNAN), and Amory Sivertson of the Boston Tree Party, to discuss exciting new communal initiatives for tree planting and care.

Cahill is Program Coordinator for BNAN’s Boston Urban Forest Program, which works through the Boston Urban Forest Council to provide resources and networking to promote urban greening.  BNAN is administering the city’s Grow Boston Greener program, which has the goal of increasing the city’s canopy cover from 29% to 35%, and which involves creating a tree planting tracking effort – (if you are in Boston, it is of particular interest to you to be part of that).

The Boston Tree Party is a campaign to plant and establish cooperative care for heirloom apple trees throughout the city.  It describes itself as “an urban agriculture project, a performative re-imagining of  American political expression, and a participatory public art project,” which “catalyzes a deep and playful engagement with the issues of food access; health; environmental stewardship; biodiversity; public space; and civic engagement.”

If you are not in Boston, you will still learn a great deal from these presentations.  As always MSSCOR meetings encourage sharing of information – we want to hear from you if you have information useful to others, and there will be ample opportunity to ask questions and have general discussion.

Trees are tangible, accessible products of institutional greening – this meeting is a chance to learn how to create attention and enthusiasm by engaging students and others to get results that everyone will enjoy for years to come.  Read more at and, but do plan to come and hear for yourself about these wonderful programs!

Please let us know if you are coming, (RSVP is helpful, but not required), or get further information by emailing, or call 617 626 1062.  Or, if you would like to give us advance notice that you can share information on what you have done on campus.


Mar 30-Sep 28: GreenStreets Walk/Ride Day Commuter Challenge

Every last Friday of the month is the Green Streets Initiative‘s Walk/Ride Day – go car-free, check in your commute, and help Tufts win the inaugural Walk/Ride Corporate Challenge!

Walk Ride

Beginning March 30 until September 28, help create safe, healthier and more vibrant streets and communities by greening your commute.  Biking, walking, public transit, telecommuting and carpooling all count! The Corporate Challenge is a competition among Boston area employers to see which workplace has the highest percentage of staff going car-free or car-light on Walk/Ride Days.

Check in each Walk/Ride Day (the last Friday of every month) at

All participants will also be entered into a raffle to win cool prizes.

Plan your green commute now and don’t forget to check in every last Friday of every month!

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