Category: Sustainability News (page 2 of 44)

Jetting Across the World; To Clean Skies and Green Fields

Opening my acceptance email to the DIS Copenhagen program was filled with squeals of excitement and happiness. A new city. A new culture. A new experience. I was ready. But what about sustainability efforts abroad? Tufts University does a fantastic job with their sustainability-related works on campus, and for the surrounding community. Here at Tufts we are constantly engaging in initiatives, organizing events, and highlighting content that builds awareness around our sustainability initiatives. Involving myself in sustainable initiatives and opportunities is an important factor for consideration during my semester abroad. I asked myself, How can one study abroad sustainably?

I researched programs and activities in Copenhagen, as well as fun facts about the city. Did you know that Copenhagen aims to be the world’s first carbon neutral city by 2025, and independent from fossil fuels by 2050! In a city that is so environment conscious, I decided to make a list of things I could do, and ways I can get involved, to continue my own efforts away from Tufts:

  1. Learning how to bike: every time I tried to cycle as a child, I ended up with multiple bruises and cuts. This year, I am going to commit to learning how to bike the right way!
  2. Using public transport: reducing gas emissions can reduce your carbon footprint. The public transport in and around Denmark is supposed to be really accessible, so it will be a great way for me to get around.
  3. Take part in sustainability initiatives: I plan to visit offshore windmill parks, heating plants, and urban gardens.
  4. Reform my food habits: learning how to eat like the locals, incorporate composting into my routine, reduce my meat consumption, and use reusable water bottles are more ways to do my part to reduce my impact while abroad.

In a city that has so much to offer, I want to make the most of this opportunity. I can learn about new sustainability methods to bring back to Tufts and ways to improve my own habits.

If you are looking for study-abroad programs that prioritize sustainability, find a list of program options here!

Green Travel

How are you traveling home this break? Have you thought about the environmental impacts of your holiday travel?

Here are a few tips to make your travel more sustainable:

1. Prepare before you go
Before you go make sure you unplug all electronics, close all windows, and turn down the heat. Also, try to finish any leftovers and take with you any perishable foods, so they don’t spoil while you’re gone.

2. Take public transportation
If you are not traveling too far, consider taking public transportation like buses and trains. Trains in the Northeast run on electricity and have lower carbon emissions. According to a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, passenger trains produce 0.42 pounds of CO2 per passenger mile, compared to driving which produces 1.08 pounds of CO2 per passenger mile. Busses are even more efficient, producing 0.17 pounds of CO2 per passenger mile.

3. Carpool
If you live close enough to drive home, consider carpooling. Talk to your friends who live nearby and coordinate rides. Or, if you live in Massachusetts, Nuride is a great way to coordinate carpooling across the state.

4. If you are going 500 miles or less drive don’t fly
It is more efficient to drive, carpool, or take public transportation if you’re traveling 500 miles or less. Beyond those distances, taking a nonstop flight is the most efficient way to travel.

500 miles radius from Tufts.

5. Buy a carbon offset
If you live farther away and are flying home this break, consider buying a carbon offset for your travels. When you purchase one, offered by DeltaUnited Airlines, and other airlines, the airlines use that money to plant trees that sequester CO2 from the atmosphere.

6. Veg out
Did you know that becoming a vegetarian or vegan could cut your carbon footprint by half? A new report from the journal Climate Change found that cutting meat out of diets can drastically reduce an individual’s carbon footprint. If you’re not ready to eliminate all meat from your diet, then consider eating less meat. When traveling you’re likely producing more carbon emissions than normal, so one way to cut back on those emissions is to eat less meat!

7. Think about your impact
What is most important is that you are cognizant of how your actions have environmental impacts. One person thinking about sustainability won’t fix climate change, so share with those around you how you take steps to live a sustainable life. While you can only control your own actions, you can influence the actions and behaviors of others. This winter break lets all think about how to be more mindful of sustainability.

Want to read more about sustainable travel?

Dispose your E-Waste the Right Way

Massachusetts has regulations in place that bans certain electronic waste (e-waste) from landfills. Surprisingly, e-waste makes up almost 70% of the trash found in dumpsters- even though most of it can be recycled!

Tufts University is constantly striving towards improving sustainability efforts on campus. The University has thus partnered with Allied Computer Brokers, Inc. to help students, faculty, and the community better recycle electronic waste. From small battery powered devices to cell phones, chargers, cables, and computer parts- get rid of your excess e-waste the right way.

Look out for the bins located all over the Medford, Boston, and Grafton campus. You can also refer to the Tufts Eco Map for accurate destinations. Faculty members can expedite the process by filling out a work order form and have it picked up.

Refer to the Facilities Services Recycling and Waste Management Page  for more details.

Plastics by the Numbers

Have you ever seen numbers on plastics and wondered what they mean?  There are hundreds of different types of plastics, with different properties, making them more flexible or ridged.

The numbers 1-7 on plastics indicate what type of plastic is used in your bottle, container, or shopping bag. Here’s a quick guide to knowing what these numbers really mean.

  1. Plastics labeled with a 1 are  PETE and are typically found in food or beverage bottles and are easily recyclable. PETE is most common for single-use items.
  2. Number 2 plastic is HDPE, which is used in clean product bottles. It is considered a safe plastic, because it doesn’t break down easily and is easily recycled.
  3. Number 3 is for PVC, which is commonly used in piping and other building materials. When burned, PVC releases toxic gases into the environment and is harder to recycle because of this toxicity.
  4. Plastic bags are commonly made from LDPE, number 4, and can be recycled in bulk. You can return shopping bags to your grocery store to recycle them, but never put individual plastic shopping bags into the recycling bin.
  5. Number 5 plastic is found in straws and squeeze bottles. Some of these products can be recycled, but straws are not recyclable.
  6. Styrofoam is made from PS plastic with the number 6. Evidence has shown that these plastics leak toxins into their environment relatively easily and take millennia to degrade naturally. Number 6 plastics can be recycled if collected properly. At Tufts, the Science and Technology Center collects styrofoam in bulk for specialty recycling.
  7. The last category, number 7, is miscellaneous plastics. The attributes and recyclability of the plastics are variable.

To learn more about how recycling works watch this great video from Sci Show:

Be sure to check the numbers on the bottom of your plastics and refer to this guide to recycle your plastics correctly. Recycling is a great way to reduce our environmental footprint and a big step toward making our world more sustainable, but remember that reducing use and reusing items should always come before recycling.

Speciality Recycling and Waste

At Tufts, we have collection sites for specialty recycling from batteries to textiles to sneakers to E-Waste! It is extremely important for these products to be recycled and diverted from the waste stream to be repurposed, as this prevents toxic landfill leakage from re-entering the environment  and reduces extractive mining and processing needs both of which harm local community health.

Much of these specialty recycling items can be categorized as universal waste, which includes four general categories: batteries, pesticides, mercury-containing equipment, and lamps.  All of these items are regulated by the federal government and must be disposed of in ways that meet federal standards.

To recycle batteries, we need to take some precautions. All alkaline batteries and non-lithium ion batteries must have their terminals taped with clear tape to avoid a potential fire hazard during transportation. Lithium-ion batteries should be collected in a separate bin. There are blue and white bins around campus where you can drop off your old batteries. Batteries are considered regulated waste and must be diverted from the regular waste stream to follow federal regulations.

Tufts also has special yellow toters around campus for composting, a great way to reduce the amount of waste we produce. According to the EPA, almost a quarter of municipal waste in landfills is food waste, which easily could be avoided through composting. We even have tips for making composting in your dorm and off-campus apartment easy and intuitive.

Recently, Tufts implemented a textile-recycling program on campus, with four locations listed on the Tufts Eco-Map. In these bins, you can drop off any and all used textiles, including clothes, towels, bedding, even tennis shoes. These items will either be sold as is or repurposed and sold as new products. Specialty recycling is a great way to get items that would typically be thrown away out of landfills.

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