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Eco-Rep Update: Where We Eat, Live, and Play

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 for 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

Tufts Releases Progress Report on Campus Sustainability

2014 Tufts Sustainability Progress Report

2014 Tufts Sustainability Progress Report

MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. – Tufts University has released its 2014 Campus Sustainability Progress Report, a year after the Campus Sustainability Council issued a report presenting recommendations for the university in the areas of waste, water, and energy use and emissions. The council, established by Tufts President Anthony P. Monaco in 2012, includes students, faculty and staff from across Tufts’ three Massachusetts campuses.

The 2014 progress report highlights sustainability-related developments and achievements made over the past year, including the creation of an energy master plan for the Medford/Somerville campus, establishment of a solid waste minimization program, and improvements in the capital planning process to integrate sustainable design principles in planning construction projects.

“Universities play a vital role in helping the world address challenging environmental issues such as climate change and resource depletion, and sustainability is a strategic priority for me and for Tufts,” said Monaco. “The Campus Sustainability Progress Report shows how our university community has worked together to make significant strides toward achieving many of the recommendations put forth by the Campus Sustainability Council in 2013. We want to build on that momentum and continue to be a leader in the area of sustainability in higher education.”

The report highlights a wide range of current and upcoming sustainability initiatives across the university, among them:

  • The installation of water- and energy-conservation features like Tufts’ first rain garden, an electric vehicle charging station, and solar arrays planned on in both the Medford/Somerville and Grafton campuses;
  • A transportation working group focused on reducing the impact of Tufts-related travel and improving access to multiple modes of transportation to the community;
  • LEED™ certification of two more spaces at Tufts – the Biology Collaborative Cluster at 200 Boston Avenue in Medford and the Sackler building in Boston; certification is also planned for two upcoming projects: renovation of a warehouse at 574 Boston Avenue, Medford, into an classrooms and teaching labs, and proposed construction of a Science and Engineering  Complex near the School of Engineering
  • Enhanced recycling programs which handle laboratory-specific material like Styrofoam™.

Despite 38% growth in Tufts’ built environment since 1990, the university’s greenhouse gas emissions per square foot have decreased 27%. Tufts formally adopted goals in the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers Climate Change Action Plan in 2003; these goals call for reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2010, a goal Tufts has achieved; reducing them to at least 10% below 1990 levels by 2020, and at least 75-85% below 2001 levels by 2050. The Campus Sustainability Council reaffirmed these goals by committing to the Massachusetts Greenhouse Gas reduction goals, which include a target of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

Tufts is also working to reduce and reuse waste and cut water consumption. The university’s current recycling and composting programs mean Tufts already complies  with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s waste bans.  Water consumption across all campuses decreased in 2013, while the stormwater regulation features of our ongoing construction projects are designed to exceed federal and state requirements.

“While the university has made great progress, there is still much to do,” said Tina Woolston, Tufts’ Sustainability Program director.  “In addition to highlighting our achievements, our annual report talks about important next steps for Tufts. Examples include performing waste audits on the Grafton campus,  installing a heat recovery system on the Boston campus, and opening more freecycle stations so that students on the Medford/Somerville campus can exchange reusable items this summer.”

To read the progress report and learn more about Tufts’ sustainability programs, visit the Tufts Office of Sustainability website at sustainability.tufts.edu.

Eco-Imaginaries: Tufts Graduate Humanities Conference

The Tufts Graduate Humanities Conference Committee is pleased to share the following CFP for the fourth annual Tufts Graduate Humanities Conference, “Eco-Imaginaries,” to be held on October 10, 2014. The keynote will be delivered by Elizabeth DeLoughery, an associate professor of English and of the Institute for the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles. We welcome papers from all disciplines and fields whose work participates in emergent conversations about the environment in the humanities. Please send your abstract of no more than 300 words, along with a short bio, totuftsgradhumanitiesconference@gmail.com by June 15, 2014. We are also building a working group of Tufts graduate students that meet every few weeks to discuss environmental issues. All are welcome to join, regardless of discipline or background. Learn more.

A Message from Tufts’ Provost David Harris – Century Ride!

Tufts Century Ride
Dear Tufts Colleagues,

Please join me for a bike ride on May 9th. As in 2012, the full ride will be about 100 miles, with stops on the Medford/Somerville, Grafton, and Boston campuses (i.e., Tufts Century). If you would prefer a shorter ride, there are options starting at 20 miles.


Registration is open to Tufts students, faculty, staff, and alumni until April 18th. There are a limited number of spots available so please register early. Visit our site
for more information and to register. For any further questions, please email tuftscentury@tufts.edu.

The Tufts Century Ride, in collaboration with the Tufts Cycling Team, is designed to provide a fun way for community members to connect and a unique way to see our three campuses. If you are not able to join us for the ride, it would be wonderful to see you during one of our campus stops or at the closing reception. Please visit our site for times and locations.


Best,

David Harris

Eco-Rep Blog Post Double-Header!

Because it’s Earth Month, we actually have TWO Eco-Rep blog updates this week! Check it out:

 

 

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)

Eco-Reps Update: New Events!!!

There have been many Eco-Rep Events this month all that involve sustainability, environmental awareness and empowering Tufts Students.

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Compost and Mud Pies

Last week a composting event was held at Houstan and residents learned how to compost, what to compost and the purpose of composting. To give a creative spin, the Eco-Rep Rachel Grudt and residents, made delectable compostable deserts called ‘mud pies’.

Environmental Jeopardy

On Thrusday, Bush and Hodgon hosted a joint event of Environmental Jeopardy, where residents from both dorms participated in answering 15 plus jeopardy like questions in regards to composting, recycling and basic environmental facts. This event also had a make-your-own-fajita Chipotle bar ready for the eating.

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

Saluting the Fletcher Sustainability Council!

At the Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, a group of students and staff are working together to promote environmentally sustainable practices and serve as advocates for change at the nation’s oldest graduate school for international affairs. The Fletcher Sustainability Council (FSC), launched in September 2012, was formed to “bring together Fletcher stakeholders, talent, and authority to discuss, plan, and act on sustainability initiatives in a well-planned and cost-effective manner.” In just under two years, they have done just that, leaving an already noticeable mark on the day-to-day lives of Fletcher students, faculty, and staff.

Perhaps the most visible of their initiatives takes the form of a recently installed water bottle filling station in the school’s Hall of Flags – a public space used as a gathering place between classes and a reception area for visitors. This station, along with several counter-top tap water filtration systems in faculty areas, have served to nearly eliminate the use of water coolers and bottled water in the halls of the Fletcher School.

The Fletcher Sustainability Council has also worked to improve the environmental sustainability of the Mugar Café, a popular lunch destination and lounge for Fletcher students. Instead of disposable dishware and eating utensils, students are encouraged to use washable and reusable items, even if they are just getting a cup of coffee or a glass of water. The café has areas for its customers to properly compost their food waste and recycle any paper or plastics they use. Students took quickly to this initiative, especially after the council encouraged professors Kelly Sims Gallagher and Bill Moomaw to promote recycling and composting at Mugar, and unnecessary waste at Mugar Café has dropped precipitously.

What makes this group so strong is their ability to bring together students, faculty, staff, and other stakeholders in the spirit of a common mission. This makes the group especially nimble, creative, and influential as agents of change at the Fletcher School. A story that best demonstrates this is one regarding their push to introduce more recycling receptacles throughout Cabot, Goddard, and Mugar Halls on the Tufts campus.

When approached about the introduction of more recycling receptacles, the Fletcher administration was hesitant to move away from the traditional aesthetic of their existing round, metal garbage bins, and pushed back on the idea of purchasing more rectangular, plastic recycling receptacles which are common on the Tufts campus. To address this challenge, the Fletcher Sustainability Collective cleverly offered to paint existing trash receptacles blue and green to create bins for recycling paper, cardboard, plastic, and metals. These bins would match the size and shape of the bins Fletcher already uses, and could then be placed alongside the existing brown bins to create a uniform aesthetic

To make this possible, the council has been working closely with Tufts Facilities and the Fletcher Administration, and in the near future this project will be fully complete. The receptacles are expected to reduce the unnecessary waste produced by the Fletcher School as well as serve as a visible reminder to Tuft’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

The Fletcher Sustainability Council’s solution to this problem was innovative, creative, efficient, cost-effective, and achieved through buy-in from several stakeholders, all qualities which prove that they are a true agent for positive change on the Tufts campus.

Other successes of the Fletcher Sustainability Council include:

·      Fletcher’s orientation being a week-long zero waste event for the first time

·      FSC providing Fletcher student group leaders with special green event training

·      The design of new signs and leverage of social media to inform and influence behavior

·      Their working with Fletcher staff to have the school’s various offices become Tufts Green Office Certified

Even the “little things” can show that they are affecting positive change on campus, such as “the majority of staff bringing their own mugs to meetings rather than using the paper cups provided,” explains Dan Hurwitt, a Technology Assistant at Fletcher and a member of FSC. According to Hurwitt, “money has been saved [and] waste has drastically reduced,” and if his enthusiasm is any indicator, the Fletcher Sustainability Council’s work is still far from over.

We want YOU!

Screenshot 2014-03-24 14.07.29That’s right, we’re recruiting! Come join our team! The Tufts Office of Sustainability is seeking a full-time summer intern to assist with day to day office activities, such as planning and gathering materials for events, greeting visitors, working on the TerraCycle program, and organizing programs such as field trips and the Eco-Ambassador program. The intern will assist with office communications, including creating documents and outreach materials and writing articles, and will assist with social media programming and perform website and blog maintenance. The intern will also be expected to research sustainability initiatives that might be undertaken on any of the three Tufts campuses. In addition, the intern may be asked to help the Program Director, Education and Outreach Coordinator, or Communications Specialist with any projects they are currently working on. Applicants should submit a cover letter and resume. The position will be open until filled. Please contact Betsy Byrum, Education & Outreach Coordinator, with questions or for more information at betsy.byrum@tufts.edu.

View the job listing here.

Eco Rep Update: Travel Green!

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 travellers?

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 an from the travel section in “The Green Book”-a book filled of different tips on how to change habits in all areas of our lives.

  1. If you are travelling 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!
  2. Look for alternative forms of transportation! Take a train instead of a plane. Walk it instead of a taxi or renting a car-you are in a new place, if it’s walkable why not take that extra time to be outside and explore a little!
  3. Bring a reusable bag for any of your shopping trips to the markets stalls or stores wherever you are visiting
  4. 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
  5. Pack your own shampoo, soap and toothpaste and leave the hotels mini-bottles untouched.  To give some perspective a three hundred room hotel in Las Vegas uses more than 150,000 plastic bottles  of shampoo a year!

-Danielle

Part 3 of Unwrapping Building 574 is Available!

Part 3 of Unwrapping Building 574 is now available! Part 3, entitled Adaptation, talks about the difficulties and nuances of adapting such an old, historic building into a modern, sustainable office. The section also includes some pictures of the building and concludes our series. We hope you’ve enjoyed it!

Read the blog here!

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