Category: Sustainability News (page 1 of 59)

How to Start Commuting by Bike

A commuter on their daily route. Image by Luca Rogoff.

Written by Elisa Sturkie

It’s been over two months since most of us have been able to safely head into work, and even longer since we could ride the T without thinking of the threat posed by COVID-19. For some, remote work is coming to an end: with Massachusetts entering into phase one of reopening on May 25th, Tufts researchers will be getting back into their labs, and some offices can resume work at a reduced capacity. Yet, with the Baker-Polito administration admitting that public transportation “unavoidably creates some risk” for COVID-19 transmission, many are still wary of taking the T.   

This is where the Office of Sustainability can help! With spring in full swing, there is no better time to maintain social distancing and start your bike commute. Somerville is ranked fifth nationally in number of biking commuters per capita, and is especially friendly to new bikers–something I know firsthand. Also, Massachusetts is the fifth most bike-friendly state in America, with Boston earning a “Silver” as a Bike Friendly Community. I started biking to work last summer for the first time, and it helped me to be healthier, more sustainable, and to explore new trails and bike paths in my community. I really couldn’t recommend it more. So, how do you get started planning your bike commute?  

1. Get a bike!  

In need of a bike? There are plenty of ways to purchase a bike sustainably in the Boston area–and many of them will also save you a little money! I got my bike used from Facebook Marketplace for a little over $50 in a move-out sale. Craigslist also has used bikes you can buy from neighbors, and until retail reopens, Cambridge Used Bicycles is conducting online bike sales with free delivery options within a five-mile radius of their store.  

Buying something used is of course more sustainable, but if you’d like a new bike, go to your local bike shop or buy from a smaller vendor online rather than from a big box store if you can. Here are the most environmentally conscious bike brands. Also, if your commute is actually pretty far and you have some money to spend, an electric bike will help you get to work fast, without all the sweat. If you’re trying to decide on a road bike, hybrid, or upright, check out this helpful webpage

Be sure to buy a helmet and bike lock! U locks are the most recommended form of lock, as they are much harder to cut through than cable locks, which prevents bike theft. 

Have a bike you need to fix up? Bike Boom in Davis Square is open for tune-ups and bike assembly, and now offers a contactless bike pickup and delivery service. Loads of other Boston-area bike shops are open now too. 

Not sure you want to commit to buying a bike? Join Blue Bikes and take out a shared bike whenever you like, without any of the upkeep! Speaking of upkeep… 

2. Take care of your bike!  

So now you’ve bought a bike. How do you keep it in good shape? It’s as simple as ABC: Air, Brakes, and Chain. Make sure you keep the right amount of air in your bike’s tires. Check the sidewall of your bike’s tires to be sure you know the correct amount of air pressure, and keep a bike pump and patch kit handy in case of a flat. Next, check your front and rear brakes to be sure they engage properly. Finally, keep your bike’s chain lubricated and clean to extend the life of your bike!  REI has some great how-to videos on the bike basics if you’d like a step by step.  

3. Plan and practice your route.  

When biking to work, never underestimate the importance of a practice run. I did and ended up sweaty and astonishingly early to work for most of my first week as a bike commuter. Be sure you know your route and what you need to commute comfortably and safely– even if that means packing a change of clothes. You’ll thank yourself later. Want some help planning your route? Trail map is here to help! You can also use Google Maps (click on the bike image), or if you work on one of Tufts’ Boston campuses, you can sign up for a Ride Amigos account here, and use their platform to plan your trip. 

4. Stay safe on the road!  

Lastly and most importantly, read up on cycling road signs and the rules of road biking. Hand signals are essential! When turning left, stick your left arm out straight; for a right turn, signal with your left arm, but bend your elbow ninety degrees (as if you are about to give someone a high five). It’s also important to be visible to cars, especially if biking at night (bike lights and reflective gear are a must!). Bikes are more vulnerable than cars and learning bike safety is the most important part of biking. Be a cautious rider, always being aware of your surroundings and stopping at red lights. Try to ride on roads with bike lanes and bike trails, or roads with bike sharrows, if there are no bike lanes near you, always ride closer to the right side of the road. Roads are safer for you than sidewalks, trust me! 

Have more questions? The Office of Sustainability has a great webpage about biking at Tufts, and a quick bike guide which might help, and we’re happy to take questions! Now that you have all the basics, hopefully you’ll be able to make the jump to a bike commute with confidence. Soon you’ll be exploring new bike paths, maintaining social distance in the fresh air, and getting to work sustainably! 

Move-Out in the Age of Coronavirus

A rainy day at the Lower Campus Move Out Station at Haskell Hall by Latin Way.

A Sudden Twist: Gearing up for a March Move Out

Each year, the Office of Sustainability (OOS) runs a robust donation collection program throughout the month of May, when students are moving out, finals are done, the air is warm, and folks are gearing up for their summer internships.

Student Move Out this year was anything but normal amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It came as a surprise to everyone when the University announced on the evening of March 10th that all students would have to move entirely out of their on-campus residence halls by 3:00 pm on March 16th.

The OOS’s annual donation program serves to divert good items from the landfill and to instead provide them to students and community members who will use them. Even in light of early Move-Out, we still wanted to maintain our sustainability values and help the Tufts community and its neighbors.

Due to the pandemic, the first step was to consult with a health expert at Tufts about whether it would be safe to collect donations at all and if so, what. There were select items that we could not collect this year because we could not sanitize them or because they are not high demand and there was limited time/capacity.  

Still, our entire office—from staff to recycling interns to communications interns—rallied together and made some magic happen. In the first day after the Move-Out announcement was made, we quickly created a donation station schedule, recruited and hired workers to help, rented vehicles, planned donation rules and two donation collection stations, ordered supplies, and secured a space for donation storage. Facilities quickly requested open top dumpsters to be placed around campus to accommodate the increased trash flow.

Early Move Out In-Action: New and Improved Collaborations

We even tried something new: due to the short notice, we were not able to get the trailers that we normally use to collect textiles. Instead, we collaborated with the Office of Residential Life and Learning (ORLL) to provide blue bags to students in residence hall lobbies, which they could use to store their clothing donations and leave them in their rooms, along with mini fridges labeled as donations. We also provided clear and black liners that students could use to take their recycling and trash out to the dumpsters and leave the space clean for the custodians.

Another pleasant surprise was a new collaboration with the Tufts Food Rescue Collaborative (TFRC). The TFRC was working with multicultural offices and Tufts Mutual Aid to create a food pantry available to the Tufts community during this difficult time (and when many store shelves were empty!). We collected almost 1,000 lbs of non-perishable food donations for the pantry.

Over the course of the week, we hired 30 student workers to help during the day and evening. Most were students who lived off-campus, had some free time due to extended spring break, and had discontinued jobs or internships. The donations program would not have been possible without the workers: they were patient, independent, and good-spirited (even in the cold!).

With their help, we were able to not only run the stations for long hours, but also to transport all donations to our storage space and sort them into categories there. Some of them even came with us to retrieve donations from the residence halls on the Health Sciences and SMFA campuses in Boston. We were lucky that we already had enough gloves and other PPE in storage before COVID-19, and that our workers were both social distancing warriors and heavy-lifting champions.

A Job Well Done (and a nap for all!)

A truck on a city street

Description automatically generated
Morning time at the Upper Campus Donation Station in the Carmichael Parking Lot.

In the end, we diverted 6.42 tons (12,833 lbs) of donations from the landfills during Early Move Out. These donations will be provided to FIRST Resource Center students, the general Tufts student body, and/or to local non-profits/charities.

The quick planning it took to make this happen was not possible without collaboration from our office’s staff and interns, Facilities, TUPD, Auxillary Services, The Office of Residential Life and Learning, the FIRST Resource Center, the Tufts Food Rescue Collaborative, and campus’s hardworking custodial staff.

Early Move Out by the Numbers

We collected 6.42 tons (12,833 lbs) during March, including:

  • 303 lbs of sanitation/health items
  • 3,291 lbs of food and kitchen items/appliances
  • 1,786 lbs of home supplies such as vacuums, mirrors, lamps, and storage bins
  • 5,683 lbs of clothes
  • 881 lbs of furniture
  • 50 lbs of miscellaneous items

Student workers hired: 30

Total student hours worked: 267.5

Total last-minute rentals: 1 U-Haul box-truck, 1 U-Haul van, 2 U-pods

Total last-minute purchases: 1 Facebook ad, 6 rolls of packing tape, and granola bars!

Total acquisitions: We attained 6 sandbags—very handy to put in the donation collection bins on windy/rainy days. (Thanks Facilities!)

Total handy reuse strategies: We can’t forget about the 2 gaylords we had in storage from last year, or the 10 slim jims that we used as donation collection bins at the donation stations (we had attempted to order cardboard boxes for 1-day delivery, but they never arrived). We were also able to reuse donation items to organize our supplies and donations.

Total signs: We used or created 15 types of signs: 9 different signs for each of the donation collection streams, 1 for U-Pods (students could leave donations in there overnight), 1 yard sign for the upper campus donation station, 1 for the lower, 1 yard sign directing folks to dumpsters, 1 banner for recycling dumpsters, and 1 banner for trash dumpsters.

Total social media posts: 1 blog post, 2 Instagram/Twitter/FB posts, an Instagram story takeover, and a Move Out email to students from ORLL.

And finally: 1 wild 70-hour work week from our Recycling Fellow!

A group of people standing in a room

Description automatically generated
Specialty Recycling Intern turned Move Out worker collects donations from a student.

Update: May Move Out Day!

Despite Early Move-Out, some juniors and seniors stayed in their off campus apartments to finish off the academic year. As the end of May–and a lease-period–drew near, two of our interns, Serena and Elyssa, became aware of how many items they would have to put into trash dumpsters as they and their housemates moved out, especially with public donation venues closed due to the COVID-19.

At their initiative, we were able to organize a one-time May donation collection station for remaining students. The event was organized in just a day and announced online. A few dozen students came, masks and all, to donate their textbooks, fans, toaster ovens, excess cleaning supplies, entire dish-ware sets, storage units, and mini-fridges!

In just a 4-hour window, we collected an additional 894 lbs. We also collected 6,845 additional pounds of Move Out textile donations during May, bringing our 2020 Move Out total to 20,572.25 lbs and 10.29 tons!

GIS Application Support Analyst, Hancock Natural Resources Group (Boston, MA)

The GIS Application Support Analyst is an integral part of the IT Department’s Application Development Team and is expected to gain familiarity with systems at various stages of the development lifecycle. The Application Development team uses a Scrum development framework to deliver new software and capabilities while supporting continuous improvement efforts.

Systems and applications being developed leverage the Esri GIS platform and accompanying systems to streamline resource management and operational planning. The candidate will ensure continuity of service to all HNRG business units in the form of systems support in a rapidly evolving technology and business transformation environment.

Learn more and apply here

Director, New Boston University Sustainability Research Institute Focused on Energy and the Environment

Boston University is embarking on a bold initiative to bring together over 100 faculty in nearly all of its 17 Schools and Colleges to enhance BU’s ability to contribute pioneering research and leadership at the intersection of energy and the environment — one of the greatest interdisciplinary challenges of our time.

Boston University is now seeking to create an overarching structure which will build on the success of the BU Institute for Sustainable Energy, as well as the work of many other departments, projects, and existing programs at Boston University. 

Learn more and apply here

Analyst in Environmental Policy, U.S. Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.)

The analyst will conduct analyses that inform congressional deliberations on environmental policy and/or science issues related to climate change.  This includes the ability to utilize analytical methods and techniques to analyze policy issues for the U.S. Congress.

The analyst will cover environmental policy and/or science issues related to climate change.  This includes knowledge of the history, trends, and current status of climate policy, federal programs, and interrelationships with other key disciplines, such as physical sciences, international relations, economics and/or policy decision making and demonstrated ability to develop expertise in new areas. 

Deadline to apply is May 7, 2020

Learn more and apply here.

« Older posts