The environment can be defined in many ways but my favorite is: where we eat, live, and play. I think it makes a lot of sense because the environment is not some abstract concept but our very surroundings, where we live, eat, study, and go to class. Our environment is Tufts! And it is undeniable that we love to keep our campus pretty. So it makes me wonder where the resources come from to keep our environment in tip top shape, the people who work here, and where our waste goes? What does it take to keep our environment clean?
Tufts does a great job of working to make Tufts a sustainable living space. However there are many improvements we can make as a community to ensure the impact we make is equitable and fair. In my Environmental Justice and World Literature class, we spoke about the many privileges we have of living in such a healthy environment and the disproportionate cost that can have on communities around us. We took a survey to see if we know for example, where our trash goes, where the salt we use to melt ice is stored, when the workers who help with upkeep of our environment come to work and where they live.
These are important questions to ask to understand how we affect our communities that surround Tufts and better understand the impacts we have. For starters, the salt is stored in Chelsea, and our waste is incinerated in Saurgus. These are communities that have been historically disproportionately affected by industries and have lower economic mobility. It is easy to think about the invisible processes that create the space we live in when we don’t always have to deal with them. Our trash and snow don’t just disappear off campus. I am sure we can all remember the incredible workers who came to shovel snow off our roads to help make it safer for us to get to class at 3 AM in the morning, working in the biting cold.
This coming week, on Monday the 28th, the students in the Environmental Justice and World Literature class are holding an event to increase awareness of these issues of how our living practices at Tufts affect our surrounding communities. Hopefully, once we start thinking about the effects we have on other communities, we can start thinking about how to decrease these impacts. Knowledge is empowering and I hope that it will empower us to make the changes we should to promote sustainability at home and our surrounding communities!
-by Aparna Dasaraju
Because it’s Earth Month, we actually have TWO Eco-Rep blog updates this week! Here’s your second:
Spring is here and it’s super busy for the Eco Reps! Recyclemania ended last Sunday (March 30) and the results of both the final round recycling scores and the overall winners of the competition can be found HERE. Remember, the dorm and house that receive the highest recycling grades overall get to hang out in an inflatable bouncy house, which is totally awesome!
Individual Eco-Reps have been busy hosting their individual events in their dorms. Last Monday I hosted a composting-focused event where Houston Hall residents could grab a personal compost bin, eat chocolate “dirt” pudding and learn about composting in the dorm. I also know that a bunch of other Eco-Reps had their events this past week, like a ‘pot a plant’ event in Carmichael, a clothing swap in Wilson House and a jeopardy event in Hogdgon.
One big upcoming event this week is Earthfest. This Friday, April 11th, from 11 am to 2pm on the Academic Quad Tufts Sustainability Collective (TSC) will be hosting its annual Earthfest. Activities include bike riding, a green photo booth and local (free!) food. This will be an amazing opportunity to celebrate spring and learn about sustainability at Tufts and in the surrounding community. Also, the Eco Reps will be hosting a clothing swap, so be sure to swing by our booth to find some cool new additions to your spring wardrobe!
-Rachael (Houston Eco Rep)
There have been many Eco-Rep Events this month all that involve sustainability, environmental awareness and empowering Tufts students.
Compost and Mud Pies
Last week a composting event was held at Houston at which residents learned how to compost, what to compos,t and the purpose of composting. To give a creative spin, the Eco-Rep Rachel Grudt and residents made delectable compostable deserts called ‘mud pies’.
On Thursday, Bush and Hodgdon hosted a joint event of Environmental Jeopardy, where residents from both dorms participated in answering Jeopardy questions about composting, recycling, and basic environmental facts. This event also had a make-your-own-fajita Chipotle bar!
Get ready for Earthfest happening on April 11th—and look out for the clothing swap where second-hand clothes are free for the taking! Hang out on the academic quad starting from 11 to 2 pm to see it for yourself!
-by Hayley Ernyey
By Danielle Mulligan
Welcome back! Hopefully everyone enjoyed their week off and feels rejuvenated for part two of the spring semester. Some may have stayed on campus while others may have travelled back home or to warmer places in search of actual spring-like weather. I personally love to travel when possible but struggle to balance that passion with my knowledge of the hugely negative environmental impacts of travelling. Starting from the ride to the airport and then the plane ride, I’m already leaving a huge carbon footprint! How can we become more environmentally conscious travelers?
Since we’re back at school, it may be good time to just take a pause and think about our past week. Whether we stayed in our dorms, were home or were lying on the beaches of Cancun-what are ways in which we could have made our vacation time a little more eco-friendly?
Here are some tips from my own travel experiences and from the travel section in “The Green Book”-a book filled with different tips on how to change habits in all areas of our lives.
- If you are traveling to a place where tap water is not safe to drink, purchase a plaster water bottle with a filter. It may seem a bit more expensive at first, but buying plastic bottles at every stop adds up and the environmental impact is huge!
- Look for alternative forms of transportation! Take a train instead of a plane. Walk instead of taking a taxi or renting a car-you are in a new place, and if it’s walkable why not take that extra time to be outside and explore a little?
- Bring a reusable bag for any of your shopping trips to the markets stalls or stores wherever you are visiting.
- Try adventure travel or eco-tourism –not only does eco-tourism generally have a much smaller negative impact on the environment, it also frequently channels money to positive environmental initiatives.
- Pack your own shampoo, soap and toothpaste and leave the hotels mini-bottles untouched. To give some perspective, a 300-room hotel in Las Vegas uses more than 150,000 plastic bottles of shampoo a year!