Author Archives: Tina Woolston

The Candidates and the Climate

While no candidate is perfect on climate change (and indeed, they all seem to be woefully inadequate), there are some differences:
 
PRESIDENT
Mitt Romney: despite his surprisingly good record on climate change while he was governor, Romney’s energy plan focuses almost entirely on pumping more fossil fuels into the atmosphere, a situation that would almost certainly ensure the world’s inability to reign in climate change (Rolling Stone has a pretty fierce write up of it, but you can read it yourself and see). Just one example: in his quotes about N. American energy independence, he uses a Manhattan Institute report that says, “In collaboration with Canada and Mexico, the United States could—and should—forge a broad pro-development, pro-export policy to realize the benefits of our hydrocarbon resources. Such a policy could lead to North America becoming the largest supplier of fuel to the world by 2030.” (what no-one seems to have told him, however, is that oil and gas companies that drill in N. America aren’t restricted to selling that fuel only to Canada, Mexico and the US – they’ll sell it to whomever gives the best price – as any good, non-government-run institution would do).
 
But anyhow, Obama’s no great climate champion these days either but at least he doesn’t blatantly ignore climate change or pledge to dig up and sell all the fossil fuels in North America. As an aside, Romney attacks Obama for ‘targeting old coal power plants’ – when, really, we wish he were targeting them, since those plants are some of the worst carbon emissions offenders.
 
Here is a summary of what the 2 candidates have said about energy and climate on the campaign trail.
 
US SENATE
Elizabeth Warren seems to support action on climate change – at least in words – but I doubt it’ll be a priority for her. Scott Brown, however, in June 2012 voted to ‘disapprove’ the EPAs endangerment findings on greenhouse gases and in March 2012 voted against ending tax deductions for major oil companies and extending incentives for energy efficient homes, plug-in vehicles and alternative fuels. They are considered one of 4 senate races with noticably different opinions on climate.
 
US HOUSE 
Jon Golnik doesn’t list ‘environment’ as an issue on his website, but under ‘energy’ he indicates he supports the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and drilling in ANWR. OK, I guess that says it all. Climate doesn’t seem to be a priority for Niki Tsongas, but she states that she help[ed] to pass tougher fuel efficiency standards and incentives for renewable energy, so there’s hope there.
 
Don’t forget to vote!

Tufts Eco-Reps shine at Symposium

Jessie and Rachael introduce the day's first ice breaker

Jessie and Rachael introduce the day's first ice breaker

I’m so proud of our Eco-Reps! Today they rocked the Babson/GreenerU Eco-Rep symposium – they ran the ice-breaker for the whole group, gave two presentations, sponsored the composting for lunch and dinner AND had the best showing of any school! Here are some pictures:

Claire summoning group 2

Claire summoning group 2

Josh explains the next step in the ice-breaker

Josh explains the next step in the ice-breaker

Jessie and Rachael presenting

Jessie and Rachael describe Tufts Eco-Rep training program

Laina, Claire and Katie explain Tufts' dorm composting

Laina, Claire and Katie explain Tufts' dorm composting

Trains and Handkerchiefs

Tina on train with zero waste bag

Luckily the guy behind me didn't have any complaints about my bag…

Since today is the last day of Mass Car-Free Week, my fellow commuter rail travelers got a special peek at my Zero-Waste Challenge trash. We have now sent out invitations to lots of students and employees at Tufts encouraging them to try their own challenge. My colleague, Ann Greaney-Williams (also the Environmental Studies coordinator) is going to do it with her five-year old and her husband. And two other staff from OOS will be starting their challenge week on Monday – so you can join them too.

I did notice another unintended consequence – the Zero-Waste Challenge keeps your dietary indiscretions in full view – no more pretending you didn’t eat that cookie or candy bar. I haven’t decided if this is a good thing yet…

On another note, the other day I was reminded that there was life before disposable tissues and Simple t-shirt tissuesit’s time to re-discover handkerchiefs! With so many awesome designs out there like these by Hank & Cheef, how can you resist buying one for every day of the week? If you don’t want to buy anything you can make your own perfect ones with a sewing machine and a scrap of fabric. Or, if like me, the sewing machine won’t be entering my life soon enough for my next bout of sniffles, check out this awesome blog on how to make simple, adorable, no-sew t-shirt tissues.

Maybe this is the solution to my cat’s insistence on pulling my non-eco-friendly tissues out of my trash bin and chewing them to bits on the floor… (speaking of which – does that count as trash for this week if I used them last week?)

Sept 22-28: Zero-Waste Challenge Week

OOS intern Hannah contemplates her trash so far

The Eco-Reps started their Zero-Waste Challenge Tuesday night and several of the OOS staff members are participating as well. What does this mean you ask? In a nutshell it means that for an entire week you don’t throw anything in the trash – instead you carry it around with you in a clear plastic bag on the outside of your backpack (shocking, eh? Full rules here) or you recycle or compost it. The idea is that there is no “away” and how different would we act if we actually couldn’t throw anything ‘away’? It’s quite an enlightening experience as you realize how many things have packaging and how hard it is to not generate trash.

My reminder not to throw anything in the trashcan!

As this is the fourth time I’ve done this exercise (it’s always a great reminder about how much you can compost, recycle and reuse – especially after you’ve slipped back into some wasteful habits…*wink wink*), I knew that the hardest thing in the first couple days is to remember not to use the trash can. So… this time I borrowed a social marketing tool and created prompts. I also noticed last time that the most abundant item in my bag was q-tips, so I pledged to do without my morning ear-cleaning ritual (yes, yes, I know you’re not supposed to – but it feels so goood!).

No q-tips for me!

The interesting thing about this exercise is that you realize that there are actually lots of unintended positive consequences that stem from trying to not generate trash. For example, this morning I didn’t have anything obvious in my fridge to bring for lunch, so I figured I’d just buy something. But then I thought of the potential dreaded take-out container – what if it wasn’t recyclable?! So, instead I packed up a lunch of some tomato and kale soup I had been waiting to make taste good (right now, it just tastes healthy) and some brown rice I had cooked a few days ago and stored in the freezer. You can’t really get more healthy a lunch than that can you? So, unintended consequence #1: healthy, home-made food saves money and promotes good eating.

Hannah’s unintended consequence from her first foray into zero-waste challenges was that instead of throwing that extra bit of extra pasta into her pot last night (since the box was almost empty), she left it in the box – cooking only exactly the amount she needed for dinner. Therefore, unintended consequence #2: portion control and perhaps even preventing wasted food (if you, like me, have a tendency to forget about your leftovers…).

We will be posting more tips and discoveries as the week goes on. What about you? Do you think you could ever try the challenge – for one day, one week, one month?? (one of our Eco-Reps did it for 6 weeks when she was in high school!). If you want to join us on our adventure, we would love to hear about  your experiences – please comment below!

Tina