Author: Aviva D. Kardener (page 1 of 2)

Ganei Bentown: Boston Jewish Food Conference

As we in the U.S. have shifted into a further mechanized world and moved into urban and suburban areas, we have separated ourselves from our food web and the impacts it has on our communities. On March 26th, Ganei Beantown: Beantown Jewish Gardens will be hosting the Boston Jewish Food Conference—Community Networks: Exploring our local food web. This day-long event will facilitate discussion of “food sourcing, distribution, and consumption, as well as the role of culture, institutions, and our homes” through several workshops and a Community Celebration. Our own Education and Outreach Program Administrator, Shoshana Blank, will be speaking on a panel about the individual actions and organizational changes within Tufts University to reduce food waste.

This conference is a wonderful opportunity to explore the ways we and our local communities are involved in our larger food and agriculture systems. Nourishing ourselves from within these systems impacts the ecosystem of many parts of our country and is a large source of greenhouse gases and fossil fuel emissions. We are a part of this system, and as a community, can work to create positive, sustainable change.

 

5 Ways to Make Your Lab More Energy-Efficient

This spring semester, 10 Tufts labs are participating in The Freezer Challenge (4 on Boston Campus, 2 Dept. of Engineering, 4 Dept. of Biology) –including the labs of Stuart Levy, Karl Munger, Catherine Freudenreich, Sergei Mirkin, Juliet Fuhrman, Nikhil U. Nair, Jamie Maguire, Thomas Biederer, and James Van Deventer. Their goal: to optimize their freezer use to be as energy efficient possible. In fact, a lab freezer—one of the most energy intensive pieces of equipment in a research lab—consumes the same amount of electricity as the average U.S. household each year. At Tufts, research labs and hospital facilities have the largest impact in production of waste, use of water, and consumption of energy.

This spring, with the help and support of the Tufts’ Green Lab Initiative, Tufts’ labs will be working to reduce their freezers’ energy consumption!

If your lab hasn’t joined the 2017 Freezer Challenge, do not fret. Here are 5 easy steps you can take to increase your lab’s energy efficiency:

  1. Take inventory of your freezer, consolidate, and share space – post the location of specific items on the freezer door so that they don’t get lost, buried, or forgotten. Be sure to clearly label your samples with the date, type of sample, and researcher’s name, and discard any old, unwanted samples. Try to keep your newly cleaned out freezer full for maximum efficiency by sharing with others.
  2. Set Ultra Low Temperature (ULT) freezers at the highest required temperature (-70°C is adequate for most bio-molecules and many microbial cultures and DNAs can be stored at -20°C).
  3. Install ULT freezer monitors with alarms that will notify you of temperature failures & keep your samples safe.
  4. Keep your freezers in a well-ventilated area – this helps reduce excess energy consumption by avoiding external heat sources.
  5. Defrost & clean your freezer – try to do so at least once a year to remove any blockages to a proper seal and clear space for sample storage. Clean dusty condenser filters to clear blockages to heat removal.

 

As a bonus tip, consider purchasing a more efficient ULT Freezer. New, conventional ULT freezers use between 16 and 22 kWh per day, overtime they can become less energy efficient. Energy efficient units can use as little as 8kWh/day, which can make a huge difference in your lab’s energy use! You can also save money by purchasing a ULT freezer! Utility companies frequently offer large rebates to labs who switch.

Spring into Meatless Mondays

Eco Reps Meatless Monday Title Photo

Sometimes, it can feel like there isn’t much to be done as an individual seeking to combat the state of our environment, particularly as courses gear up and overwhelm students with reading, problem sets, papers, exams, and stress. If you are feeling a little lost or can’t find your place in the environmental movement, or you just want to talk to really cool, interesting, and motivated Jumbos, be sure to stop by Carm and Dewick between 5pm and 7pm on Monday nights. That’s right, this semester Eco-Reps are back at it again with the Meatless Mondays.

If you’ve ever walked into the dining hall around this time before, you have probably noticed a table of eager Eco-Reps asking you if you’ll eat meatless tonight. This semester, be sure to say hello and talk to them about any of your environmental interests, comments, questions, or concerns. Eco-Reps are a wonderful resource to us students on campus. They are here to help and support us through our semester in a more sustainable way. Each week, they will be talking to us about different environmental themes, including topics in sustainable agriculture. Take this opportunity to learn more about ways that you can make a difference in your daily choices!

 

Meet Your Eco Reps CTA

Stepping Back and Listening for the Silence

Stepping Back and Listening to the Silence Title Photo


Content based on an Environmental Studies Lunch and Learn Talk given to professors, staff, and students at Tufts University. Every week during the academic year, the ENVS Lunch & Learn lecture series features speakers from government, industry, academia and non-profit organizations to give presentations on environmental topics. This is a great opportunity to broaden your knowledge beyond the curriculum, meet other faculty and students and network with the speakers. This lecture series is co-sponsored by the Tufts Institute of the Environment and the Tisch College of Civic Life.

Listening for justice: Place-based humanities education and research
Emma Schneider, Department of English, Tufts University
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How are listening and literature part of promoting environmental justice? How can the imaginative space created by stories promote more equitable and sustainable ways of paying attention to each other and the environment? This presentation discusses how contemporary environmental justice writers ask their readers to listen beyond the powerful narratives that enable exploitative practices. We will think about the role of the humanities in environmental studies and education, particularly in terms of developing a sense of place and community grounded in justice and deep listening.


Do you ever stop to think about whose voices you do not hear? Or what narratives you are not exposed to in the media? How do you decipher “meaningful sound” from background noise?

These are some of the questions Emma Scheider, Ph.D candidate in the Department of English, asks us—a room full of academics in positions of privilege and power—to grapple with in her Environmental Studies Lunch & Learn Talk—Listening for justice: Place-based humanities education and research.

Environmental or climate justice as defined by the EPA, “is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” This is to say that environmental degradation (pollution and resource abuse) and climate change disproportionately burden people of color and low-income. They are movements that aim to bring awareness to and address this economic and legal systematic oppression.

Emma explains that when it comes to the environment and more specifically environmental and climate justice, we do not lack information or data; our missing link is conversation—a listening gap. She reminds us to listen to the web of different voices in our communities and their stories, because they can help us to re-envision and re-form our world.

As individuals with decision-making powers and privilege, our first response to a perceived lack of outcry at a decision or change is to assume that no one takes issue with it. What if we questioned the silence? Within our legal system, we tend to think of objection or speaking out as the responsibility of those who are affected by policy and decision making. Scheider explains that we tune out “meaningful sound” to calm our own fears and ignore the ways we may be benefiting while others suffer. It can be scary to listen to stories of violence and harm. However, it is pivotal to the survival of communities that people demonstrate courage and listen for these changes from within and outside of their communities. In fact, this important community knowledge can come from those who have experienced transitions to environmental degradation and can recall how the landscape of their community used to be.

We are called to create space for those who have something to say, but aren’t being heard. In closing her presentation, Emma asks us “where are the places [in which] connections can be made or bridges can be formed in listening to the things that make us uncomfortable?”

Medford Conversations CTALunch and Learn CTA

Easy, Breezy, Beautiful Green Office Certification

Easy, Breezy, Beautiful Green Office Certification

This semester, I was tasked with officially certifying the office space in the back of Miller, which houses the Office of Sustainability, Environmental Studies Program, Tufts Institute of the Environment, and grad students in the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program, under Tufts’ Green Office Certification Program. What seemed at the time to be a huge undertaking was actually pretty painless once I sat down and organized the following steps for filling out and submitting the Green Office Certification Checklist.

  1. Fill out what you can first!

I first went through the checklist and picked out the credits that I could answer on my own—if our lighting is controlled by sensors, if we have lighting and water use prompts, whether the equipment is ENERGY STAR rated, the accessibility of recycling and compost bins in the space, the recycled content of our paper and letterhead, our copier double-sided defaults, our shared office supplies and dishware, etc.

  1. Make a survey to send out to your colleagues

After completing the credits I could on my own, I picked out the credits about departmental policies and individual behaviors. I then developed a survey to send out to everyone who works in our office space with these questions to measure their personal behaviors as well as their awareness of departmental policies. In order to make the experience of filling out the survey a little less inconvenient and annoying to my co-workers, I tried to make the survey funny and engaging. I sent it out with a deadline and continued to send reminders every few days leading up to the deadline. Once it came and went, I sent individualized emails to those who had not filled out the survey. I followed up with them several times until nearly everyone had filled out the survey.

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Signed Commitment to Uphold Green Office Values in the Back of Miller Office Space.

  1. Commit to sustainability and earn bonus points

At the bottom of the Green Office Certification Checklist is an extra-credit opportunity for colleagues to sign to commit to reducing their footprint and take actions included in the checklist. This not only earns the office extra points on the checklist, but it also helps to generate office buy-in and foster a feeling of responsibility and accountability within the office when it comes to making more environmentally sustainable choices. I placed the sheet for office members to sign in a central location in the office, our kitchen, where it is easily accessible and a frequent reminder to all in the office space. I also sent reminders to sign the commitment in all my emails starting with the original send-off of the survey.

  1. Talk to purchasing and commit to changes

Once our survey results were in, I reviewed them and determined where we stood with all the sections of the checklist. I was left with a few options to get us the extra boost we needed to level-up and earn Platinum Certification. I decided to talk to the person in charge of purchasing for our office space. He was on board and committed to buying only shade-grown or organic coffee for the office space to support environmentally and socially responsible companies, reduce our footprint, and make healthier choices for our colleagues.

Taking these steps to complete and submit our Green Office Certification made the process both simple and quick. Thanks to the help and cooperation of my colleagues, our space has been officially recognized with Green Office Platinum Level Certification.

If you’re interested in certifying your own office, you can learn more about the program and download our Green Office Resources ebook on the Office of Sustainability’s website.Get Your Office Certified

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