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

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
Watch video

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.

Untitled design (1)

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

Three Things I learned from Tufts’ Zero Waste Week

Three Things I learned from Tufts’ Zero Waste Week

 

In the week leading up to Earth Day (Friday, April 22nd), I participated in the Eco-Reps’ Zero Waste Challenge. After signing up for the challenge, I received a clear bag to collect all of the waste I generate which cannot be diverted from the landfill (i.e. all non-recyclable and non-compostable items excluding biohazards).

IMG_6766

Eco-Reps standing with completed Zero Waste Challenge Bags.

During this time, I became aware of some of my more wasteful behaviors. I found that most of the waste I normally produce comes from food packaging. As a student with a meal plan living on-campus, I don’t have the ability to buy food in bulk to reduce my waste. However, there are many ways to produce less waste with the great and convenient options on campus.

1. Eat at the dining halls!

I am lucky enough to have an unlimited meal plan, so I tend to eat most of my meals at the dining halls. I love Carm, because it offers plenty of food options and convenient, nice, cozy place to study. During this week, I realized that when I eat at the dining halls, I do not directly produce any waste. There is no packaging to send to the trash. Leftover food gets donated to Food For Free through Tufts Food Rescue Collaborative and waste gets composted. Carm and Dewick get all their products in bulk which greatly reduces the amount of packaging that would be sent to the landfill. If you have the time, and the meal swipes, head to the dining halls!

IMG_6765

Jumbo Mountain collected from Monday through Friday in Houston Hall.

2. BYO containers or mugs to avoid food packaging.

We all have days when dining halls are just not an option. We are heading to class, yet another meeting, or just need to bunker down in Tisch, Eaton, Campus Center, or Halligan. That’s when Hodgdon, Pax et Lox Kosher Deli, and The Rez come in handy! It is easy to forget about the small waste items like straws, plastic seals, and packages for things like dressing, soy sauce, and condiments, but a great way to reduce waste from food packaging is to bring reusable food containers or a mug with you. In fact, The Rez provides discounts when you BYOM (Bring Your Own Mug), for any size you pay for a small. (Extra Special Bonus: The Rez also composts all its used coffee grinds—which are fair trade!) You can also get 20¢ off your purchase through the Mug Discount Program at Mugar Café, Hodgdon Food-on-the-Run, Commons Marketplace, and Brown & Brew Coffee House.

If you forget to bring your reusable food containers with you, some of the packaging at Hodgdon is compostable—the recycled pulped paper containers that come with Quesadillas and Roasters meals.

If you are in a pinch and have to grab a granola bar from Hodgdon, you can hold onto the wrapper and deposit into one of Tufts’ many Terracycle Stations (set up in the Office of Sustainability (in the back of Miller Hall) and in several residence halls) found in the Office of Sustainability’s Eco Map. These wrappers get collected by Tufts and sent to Terracycle which converts them into retail products like bags and lunchboxes.

Compost Bins Picture

Yellow compost receptacles can be found all over campus.

3. Compost your food scraps!

The organic food waste I created came from fruit scraps (apple cores, orange peels, strawberry leaves, etc.). But, I realized how abundant composting on campus is. I could either wait until I got home to compost in my residence hall, bring my scraps to the dining halls which compost food scraps, or even deposit my waste at one of many compost receptacles on campus, easily found in the Eco Map. Living off campus? No worries! You can compost at home and bring the full bags to the yellow receptacles scattered across campus.

Zero Waste Week reminded me to keep my eyes open and pay attention to the wasteful behavior that I normally don’t notice.

To the Eco-Rep Zero Waste Week Challenge, I say, “10 out of 10, would recommend and will do again!”

ZWW CTA

Tufts Eco-Ambassador Takes on the Climate Ride

Title Climate Ride

 

There is nothing quite like a 300+ mile bike ride to remind someone that they can have a real impact. For Chantal Hardy, a Tufts alum and Tufts Eco-Ambassador from the English Department, the Climate Ride along the Northern California coast alongside 130 other bikers is an opportunity to challenge herself, bring awareness to environmental issues, and reeducate herself about the movement of today. It also enables others who are unable to ride with her in May to contribute to these educational and activist efforts through donations. Much like her responsibilities as an Eco-Ambassador, she sees this challenge as engaging a personal, practical ability to affect change.

Chantal with Bike 2

Chantal has not been a distance biker for long. She first began casually biking at Oberlin College, where she majored in Environmental Studies. Since then, she has biked to her job at Tufts from Mission Hill, a more exercise intensive and shorter commute option than the T. Inspired by a friend, Chantal began trying out longer distance biking and has completed a few day-long biking events.

The Climate Ride’s participants fundraise for climate education and other causes they are passionate about; for Chantal, these are local Boston organizations. She is donating her fundraised proceeds to the Climate Ride, Jamaica Plains’ Bikes Not Bombs, which is a social justice, bike-advocacy program for youth empowerment that hosts international programs in developing nations, and the Boston Cyclist Union for its work in improving Boston’s bike infrastructure.

To learn more about the Climate Ride and Chantal’s journey, click on the box below:

CTA To Learn More about Chantal's Ride

Older posts