Category: Ideas (page 1 of 23)

The Future of Carbon Neutrality at Tufts

At the beginning of November, the Tufts Office of Sustainability along with Tufts Capital Projects and GreenerU planned and executed a community engagement event with students, staff, faculty and the local public. The goal was to educate participants about what’s already happened with sustainability and carbon neutrality on the Tufts campus and to inform about what’s planned for the coming years. We also wanted to understand community priorities, concerns and areas of interest for future sustainability efforts. More than 60 people attended, 2/3 of whom were students!

During the event, participants walked through a maze of info posters to review all of our sustainability initiatives, progress and plans throughout the Medford campus. There were several interactive posters that attendees marked up with color coded stickers and sticky notes. (If you would like to see the questions and add your input, click here for the online version!) There were also several small break-out sessions for people who wanted to have more in-depth discussions about the process, goals and staying informed.

Some findings from the event:

  • 100% of participants said they believe carbon neutrality is a worthwhile pursuit
  • There was strong support for divestment from the fossil fuel industry
  • People are concerned that our goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 isn’t acting fast enough
  • Other hopes included more of a focus on renewable energy and social/environmental justice initiatives
  • The community would like to stay involved and informed, especially around short term goals/benchmarks

Don’t forget to take a look at the video from the event, and check out some pictures and the info posters here!

 

Tips for a Sustainable Move-In

With August fast approaching, it is getting to be that time of year when students start thinking about moving in to their Tufts residence for the upcoming school year!

Whether you are a returning student or a incoming first-year student, the Office of Sustainability has a few tips to make your move-in a greener one! Read on for details, and some PSAs from our Recycling Fellow.

Only Bring What You Need

This one is self-explanatory, but it’s an important one! The less you bring, the less packaging you’ll waste. In addition, it may be one less box to ship if you’re moving in from far away.

At the end of the year, so many items are left behind during move-out, which may signify that students are bringing/purchasing too many unnecessary items.

Wait On Big Purchases

Definitely wait to check-in with your room/house-mates about bringing large items to campus. If you wait to discuss logistics, you may be able to split the costs for many purchases and save a lot of money.

Additionally, you may be able to find more affordable options for some dorm room items once you get to campus (see below).

Buy Used

Don’t miss out on the second annual Blue and Brown Pass It Down Sale hosted by Tufts Green House! Many items collected during the Spring Move-Out will be available to purchase at the lowest prices around. This is a great place to get lamps, rugs, hangers, and other items you might need for your dorm room.

Additionally, Tufts Buy/Sell/Trade is a private Facebook Group for those with tufts.edu email addresses to exchange items, where many useful items are often posted.

Ditch Cardboard Boxes

Why use a cardboard box when you could use items you need to bring with you anyways, such as backpacks, duffel bags, suitcases, laundry bins and other containers. Not only will you reduce waste, you’ll also save space!

If you need to use cardboard boxes (if you are shipping items, for example), consider breaking them down and storing them under your bed until move-out. View the Recycling Fellow PSA below about cardboard box recycling for more reasons to ditch the boxes.

Replace Your Lightbulbs

Bring any incandescent lightbulbs to the Office of Sustainability at 550 Boston Ave and we will replace them with LED light bulbs, free of charge.

This is a part of an effort to reduce energy emissions from Tufts campuses. LED lights last much longer than incandescent lightbulbs, but are often much pricier. Definitely take advantage of this sweet deal!

Recycling Fellow PSAs:

Please bring any recyclables associated with your move-in to a recycling dumpster. There will be signs indicating the locations of the nearest dumpster to each dorm. You can also view our online Eco-Map for outdoor recycling locations.

If you have any questions about what can or can’t be recycled, please ask one of the Eco-Reps who will be walking around the dorms.

Please do not discard cardboard boxes in any location in the dorms. You must bring broken down cardboard boxes to the nearest recycling dumpster (locations will be indicated on signs posted in each dorm). If you don’t bring or discard cardboard boxes you won’t have to make this trek, as an added incentive to follow our tips above!

Plastic bags and film cannot be recycled through the regular recycling stream. Please do not place these in the recycling dumpsters. Look out for signage regarding designated bins for plastic film recycling.

 

4 Ways To Eliminate Plastic From Your Life

 

According to a National Geographic article, 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic has been created since manufacturing of the material began six decades ago. The article also estimates that 91% of all plastic consumed around the world is not recycled.

As you may have seen on social media,  many people have attempted to avoid using plastic products completely for the month of July, as a part of Plastic-Free July. Although July is coming to an end, that does not mean that we should abandon the effort to reduce our plastic consumption.

Here are just a few small changes you can make to reduce your consumption of plastic on a daily basis:

Ditch Bottled Beverages and Disposable Cups:

According to a 2017 article, “a million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute.”  That comes down to around 20,000 plastic bottles every second! Not only is using a reusable mug or water bottle a great way to reduce plastic consumption, it may also save you some money. Many coffee shops and other stores offer discounts to those who bring their own bottles and mugs.

Bring Your Own Bag

As with reusable mugs and bottles, bringing your own reusable bag to grocery stores often gets you a discount. To take a step further, you can also purchase reusable mesh bags for produce instead of using the plastic bags available in the produce section of grocery stores.

Buy In Bulk

Buying in bulk is not always feasible if you do not have many mouths to feed in your home. As an alternative, many grocery stores have bulk sections where you can purchase items like grains, nuts, spices and dried fruits from bulk bins in the exact quantities that you need. Bringing your own container and measuring out the exact amount of an item you need is a great way to eliminate both packaging waste and food waste – because are you really going to use up that large container of cardamom you bought to make curry that one time?

Use Reusable Utensils

Whenever possible, try bringing your own utensils and plates to events and meetings where food may be served. For packed lunches, you could invest in a reusable sandwich or snack bag to replace single-use plastic bags. You could even try out beeswax wrap, an alternative to plastic wrap!

From Ethnobotany to Energy Democracy—ENVS Lunch & Learn 2018

Content based on an Environmental Studies Lunch & 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.

Students, faculty, staff, and members of the community are welcome to attend.

This lecture series is co-sponsored by the Tufts Institute of the Environment and the Tisch College of Civic Life.


Medicinal Plants in their Environments: The chemical warfare of ethnobotany
John de la Parra, Visiting Lecturer, Tufts Experimental College
Watch video

Redistributing Power: Energy Democracy, Renewables & Community Resilience
Jennie Stephens, Dean’s Professor of Sustainability Science & Policy, Northeastern University
Watch video

This semester, the Environmental Studies Lunch & Learn series is off to a great start with an emphasis on justice and respecting the knowledge, needs, and problem solving of indigenous people, women, communities of color, and low-income communities.

The first talk of the semester, given by John de la Parra, explored the intersections of indigenous knowledge and medicine, and advancements in the biotechnology sphere that increase consistency of products through standardization and analysis. He began by centering the talk on respecting a woman’s knowledge as powerful, as he explains that in many cultures, medicine people are women who know their way around the local plants. About 80% of the world uses plants to heal themselves. Knowledge of the native plants in a given area points to understanding chemical differences between plants that impact their healing qualities and abilities based on the plants’ own “chemical warfare—reactions to pathogens, weather or drought, other plants, and herbivores.” Ethnobotany pairs the technological advances now available with this indigenous knowledge to grow a huge density of plants within the controlled environment of a bioreactor—needing fewer inputs—to produce concentrated tinctures for different illnesses. De la Parra discusses these lab experiments as a way to dramatically increase accessibility to many treatments by curating very specific and tested directions to grow and create the treatments —and possibly distribute them by drone drop-offs—to people all around the world who may be unable to afford or reach pharmaceuticals.  Ethnobotany can produce a product to be used by indigenous cultures to treat existing health problems.

In another talk, Jennie Stephens discussed the movement of Energy Democracy—a concept that connects social change with the energy system transition away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy. The energy democracy integrates concerns about the environment, climate change, social justice, income inequality, racism, wealth, and human rights. This vision is an alternative to fossil fuel dominated systems, as the fossil fuel industry is the most profitable industry in the world and the biggest contributor to climate change. This resistance is forming as a response to growing inequalities, unequal distribution of the impacts of energy and climate change, and the political power of the fossil fuel industry. Stephens reminds us that we are within this energy transition from fossil fuels, even if we sometimes feel we are stuck without much progress. The Energy Democracy sees this transition as an opportunity to democratize and decentralize energy while intentionally advancing justice through inclusion and awareness of the implications and connections between issues of inequality, justice, climate, and energy. Stephens posits that renewable energy systems offer a possibility, but not a certainty for more democratic energy futures.

Stay tuned for more Environmental Studies Lunch & Learns highlighting the intersections of the environment, climate change, and justice.

First International Flyingless Conference

Image from Professor Wilde’s Twitter Account @flyingless.

On Friday April 28, 2017, Professor Parke Wilde from the Friedman School—in collaboration with Tufts Professors Richard Auner in Music and Ani Patel in Psychology, graduate students Mehreen Ismail, Victoria Chase, and Ola Ozernov-Palchik, and Professor Mary Farbood from NYU, Andrea Norton from Beth Israel Deaconess, graduate students Maximilian Burkard and Nils Meyer Kahlen, and Professor Richard Parncutt in Graz, Austria—put on the first international flyingless conference called the Global Arts and Psychology Seminar (GAPS). This event was created with support from David Kahle, the Chief Information Officer; Tina Woolston, the Director of the Office of Sustainability; and Bill O’Brien, a Multimedia Specialist. With audiences in Graz, Austria; Sydney, Australia; Sheffield, England; La Plata, Argentina; and Boston, MA, USA, GAPS was quite a successful event.

So why a flyingless conference? Well, Professor Wilde explains this event as a hopeful one in the times of climate change. He continues that communities of universities must be leaders, yet contribute to climate change in traveling to conferences to share research and knowledge. This conference aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a lifestyle change in the academic world. He believes that while some may claim these changes are impossible or will hinder economic activity, “thoughtful people will innovate new ways of living prosperously that have less impact on the environment.”

Part of the solution can come through the many ways we can find fulfillment with minimal impact on the environment. Professor Wilde encourages his audience to think of the list of things that bring joy and happiness without being resource intensive. The professor points to music, mental health, and well-being, a direct link to the topic of the conference that before may have seemed out of place. The professor makes it clear the connection the environment has to so many other fields of studies and aspects of life.

He reminds everyone involved and participating in GAPS, “here today, you are part of something important.”

View the GAPS here:

 

 

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