Author: Elyssa G. Anneser (page 1 of 3)

Sustainable Winter Break

Classes have ended, finals are on the horizon, and everyone is dreaming of going home for the break as soon as their last final is over. But before you can go, there are some things you must do to winterize your dorm.
Remember to:

  • Close all of your windows.
  • Turn off all power strips and unplug everything from the wall.
  • Unplug your refrigerator and leave the door of the fridge open. Place a towel underneath the door to catch the melted ice.
  • Prevent food waste by eating or taking home all left-over nonperishable foods.
  •  Turn the thermostat to 1.

All of these simple things help Tufts reduce our energy consumption over break! Want more tips on how to have a sustainable winter break?

Sustainable winter break tips:

  •  Put on a sweater before turning up the heat.
  • Recycle any notebooks that you’re done with after your final.
  • Think about how your travel impacts the environment. Find more about sustainable travel from last week’s blog post.
  • Wrap your holiday presents in newspaper and reusable gift bags.
  •  Give sustainable presents. Check out some great gifts for everyone on your list here!
  •  Reduce your food waste during those big holiday dinners.
  •  If you have the opportunity, go adventure in the outdoors! Use your winter break to reconnect with your home and nature. Take a walk, go for a hike, swim, or ski. Take advantage of not having exams, homework, or meetings and get outside!

Congratulations on a great fall semester and good luck with finals! We wish you a very sustainable winter break!

2018-2019 Environmental Research Fellowships (TIE Fellows) Program

The 2018-2019 Environmental Research Fellowship program, of the Tufts Institute of the Environment (TIE), is for Tufts graduate students to conduct independent, interdisciplinary, environmental research projects. Topics may cover areas such as conservation, public policy, biology, the food water and energy nexus, and public and environmental health, among others. All projects must include an interdisciplinary component and faculty mentors from at least two different schools or departments from within Tufts. Selected students can receive up to $5,000 in research funding.

Masters and PhD students in any Tufts departments or schools are welcome to apply. 

Applications due Thursday, February 15, 2018 at Noon
Fill out the application and send back to TIE. Application available here
Please send any questions to Jill Parlee, Assistant Director of Programs at TIE, at


Spring 2018 Administrative Assistant, Environmental Studies Program (Tufts)

The Environmental Studies Program is looking for a diligent, reliable and self-starter student (preferably work-study) to start at the end of January (3-4 hrs a week, $11/hr). Duties include assisting with basic administrative functions of an office, assisting with preparation of promotional material, preparing publications and/or newsletters, assisting with event organization, posting on social media and other tasks as needed.

 Job Requirements: Student must be detail-oriented, have good oral and written communication and organizational skills, ability to multi-task and ability to meet deadlines. Additionally, must be comfortable with technology and be willing and able to learn new software as needed. Proficiency in Word, Excel and Powerpoint required. Experience with graphic design and an interest in environmental topics are a plus. This position is open to all students but those in the ENVS Program are strongly encouraged to apply. Applications are currently being reviewed.

Application includes: cover letter, resume, name and contact information for 2 references, and list of applicant’s available days and hours.

Please apply through Job X

Apply now


Green Travel

How are you traveling home this break? Have you thought about the environmental impacts of your holiday travel?

Here are a few tips to make your travel more sustainable:

1. Prepare before you go
Before you go make sure you unplug all electronics, close all windows, and turn down the heat. Also, try to finish any leftovers and take with you any perishable foods, so they don’t spoil while you’re gone.

2. Take public transportation
If you are not traveling too far, consider taking public transportation like buses and trains. Trains in the Northeast run on electricity and have lower carbon emissions. According to a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, passenger trains produce 0.42 pounds of CO2 per passenger mile, compared to driving which produces 1.08 pounds of CO2 per passenger mile. Busses are even more efficient, producing 0.17 pounds of CO2 per passenger mile.

3. Carpool
If you live close enough to drive home, consider carpooling. Talk to your friends who live nearby and coordinate rides. Or, if you live in Massachusetts, Nuride is a great way to coordinate carpooling across the state.

4. If you are going 500 miles or less drive don’t fly
It is more efficient to drive, carpool, or take public transportation if you’re traveling 500 miles or less. Beyond those distances, taking a nonstop flight is the most efficient way to travel.

500 miles radius from Tufts.

5. Buy a carbon offset
If you live farther away and are flying home this break, consider buying a carbon offset for your travels. When you purchase one, offered by DeltaUnited Airlines, and other airlines, the airlines use that money to plant trees that sequester CO2 from the atmosphere.

6. Veg out
Did you know that becoming a vegetarian or vegan could cut your carbon footprint by half? A new report from the journal Climate Change found that cutting meat out of diets can drastically reduce an individual’s carbon footprint. If you’re not ready to eliminate all meat from your diet, then consider eating less meat. When traveling you’re likely producing more carbon emissions than normal, so one way to cut back on those emissions is to eat less meat!

7. Think about your impact
What is most important is that you are cognizant of how your actions have environmental impacts. One person thinking about sustainability won’t fix climate change, so share with those around you how you take steps to live a sustainable life. While you can only control your own actions, you can influence the actions and behaviors of others. This winter break lets all think about how to be more mindful of sustainability.

Want to read more about sustainable travel?

Plastics by the Numbers

Have you ever seen numbers on plastics and wondered what they mean?  There are hundreds of different types of plastics, with different properties, making them more flexible or ridged.

The numbers 1-7 on plastics indicate what type of plastic is used in your bottle, container, or shopping bag. Here’s a quick guide to knowing what these numbers really mean.

  1. Plastics labeled with a 1 are  PETE and are typically found in food or beverage bottles and are easily recyclable. PETE is most common for single-use items.
  2. Number 2 plastic is HDPE, which is used in clean product bottles. It is considered a safe plastic, because it doesn’t break down easily and is easily recycled.
  3. Number 3 is for PVC, which is commonly used in piping and other building materials. When burned, PVC releases toxic gases into the environment and is harder to recycle because of this toxicity.
  4. Plastic bags are commonly made from LDPE, number 4, and can be recycled in bulk. You can return shopping bags to your grocery store to recycle them, but never put individual plastic shopping bags into the recycling bin.
  5. Number 5 plastic is found in straws and squeeze bottles. Some of these products can be recycled, but straws are not recyclable.
  6. Styrofoam is made from PS plastic with the number 6. Evidence has shown that these plastics leak toxins into their environment relatively easily and take millennia to degrade naturally. Number 6 plastics can be recycled if collected properly. At Tufts, the Science and Technology Center collects styrofoam in bulk for specialty recycling.
  7. The last category, number 7, is miscellaneous plastics. The attributes and recyclability of the plastics are variable.

To learn more about how recycling works watch this great video from Sci Show:

Be sure to check the numbers on the bottom of your plastics and refer to this guide to recycle your plastics correctly. Recycling is a great way to reduce our environmental footprint and a big step toward making our world more sustainable, but remember that reducing use and reusing items should always come before recycling.

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