In April, the Grafton campus celebrated Zero Waste Week for the first time ever, joining Medford in challenging the Tufts community to recognize one’s personal footprint and reduce it.
About 30 people signed up for the challenge, which involves carrying any waste which cannot be recycled, composted, or avoided in a plastic bag clipped to one’s backpack or handbag for a full week. Participants included students from all years, interns and residents at the hospitals, and faculty. 15 participants made it to the end of the challenge, delivered their bags to the Earth Day event, and received their prize.
Some of the bags collected on Earth Day
All participants were entered into a raffle for an earth-friendly gift, which was ultimately won by Whitney Stiehler from Wildlife.
Whitney Stiehler won these hip reusable lunch containers, which make eating on the go, at your desk, or at Zero Waste events easier than ever.
After the challenge, participants reported that the exercise led them to think more about what products they were using and how everything could be disposed; they also praised the accessibility of recycling and composting on the campus for making the challenge more doable.
The Grafton campus also celebrated Earth Day with its annual tree planting next to the Agnes Varis Campus Center.
Trees are planted in honor of Earth Day.
Beginning this fall, the free campus shuttle which runs a loop along Boston Avenue on the Medford/Somerville campus will add a stop at the Whole Foods store on Mystic Valley Parkway.
Though there are several groceries stores near campus readily accessible by car, reaching them by foot or by bike — and returning with a load of groceries — can be difficult, inconvenient, and time-consuming. The new shuttle stop will provide students with another option for fresh produce and other healthy food and make doing errands simpler and more sustainable.
The revised schedule will also include a stop at the Mayer Campus Center, thereby linking the Boston Ave and Davis Square shuttles and making travel between the different sectors of campus and its surroundings more feasible.
Recycling interns Alex Cherry and Megan Mooney worked with Administrative Services to make the change possible. Cherry notes that Whole Foods offers a bottle and can return station and hopes students will use the shuttle for that service as well.
Administrative Services hosts information about shuttle schedules and the shuttle tracker app. The shuttles will begin operating once the school year starts, but the Boston Ave shuttle is available here.
In February, PowerOptions, in cooperation with Tufts and Endicott College, was selected as the winner of the inaugural Green Ribbon Commission Renewable Energy Leadership Prize.
The Prize awards $100,000 to nonprofit institutions for their strategy for large-scale renewable energy generation. Through the Prize, GRC aims to inspire local large-scale energy consumers to implement renewable energy strategies.
The participants who did not receive the prize intend to move forward with their projects, extending the ripples of the competition. GRC hopes that renewable energy in Massachusetts will receive a boost from all the new projects. Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.
The Prize is funded by the Barr Foundation, which has made climate one of its core concentrations. The Green Ribbon Commission is a group of business, institutional, and civic leaders supporting the implementation of Boston’s Climate Action Plan.
(Pictured above: The team from Tufts, PowerOptions, and Endicott College was recognized at a GRC meeting in May. Photo via the Barr Foundation.)
Tufts, PowerOptions, and Partners Healthcare are currently in negotiations to bring the proposal to fruition.
The Green Ribbon Commission has also released a case study analysis of the contest and its entries for greater insight and improvement for next year.
Tufts students on the Medford campus have been composting in their dorms for several years through the Eco-Reps program. But until last year, unstaffed dorms – that is, dorms without Residential Assistants (RAs) and Eco-Reps – were left to organize the disposal of their organic waste on their own.
The Recycling and Waste Management office run by Facilities Services office set out to rectify that situation in early 2016 by launching a composting program for on-campus apartments, including Hillsides, Latin Way, and Sophia Gordon.
The program aimed to divert food waste from the trash. On-campus apartments have full kitchens, meaning students living in those spaces are more likely to be cooking regularly – and therefore producing more food waste – than students in some of the other dorms.
22 apartments received bins during the first pilot round of the program and several more joined during the spring semester.
Students who signed up for the program received a bin at the beginning of the spring semester, along with instructions about maintaining their compost and locations around campus where the bins could be emptied. Recycling interns also sent out a weekly email with tips and reminders.
Recycling is currently working to improve the program and investigating the potential of having off-campus apartments participate.
(Pictured above: Savannah Christiansen, ‘16, Recycling intern, coordinated the program’s launch in the spring of 2016.)
Participants in the Eco-Ambassador program are eligible to receive a sustainability grant of $200 towards a sustainability initiative or project in their office or department.
Last year, Lynne Ramsey, an Eco-Ambassador in the Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO), noticed that participants in the Center’s summer workshops for children were using up to 5 disposable cups a day during snack breaks. So for this summer’s sessions, Lynne used her grant to purchase CEEO-branded reusable plastic cups from a local producer. All workshop attendees, instructors, and CEEO’s undergraduate student workers received a cup. Lynne estimates that the initiative eliminates the waste of over 5,000 disposable cups.
The cups not only replaced single-use paper cups during the event but also display information about the waste and deforestation created by paper cups every year. In this way Lynne’s initiative fulfilled a key principle of sustainable events: to extend sustainable behavior and awareness beyond the single event and into the future.
Lynne and CEEO hope to continue the initiative into the future, incorporating reusables into all of their summer workshops.
For more information about sustainable event principles as well as checklists to guide you through hosting your own events, review or download our Green Event Resources ebook.
Learn more about the Eco-Ambassador program and consider applying to become a sustainability leader in your office.