Are you a Tufts student on the Medford/Somerville Campus? Don’t miss your chance to purchase a discounted spring semester MBTA pass from Student Services. You must order your pass by January 6th, 2017.
The Zero Waste Challenge entails collecting everything that I don’t recycle or compost in a clear Ziploc bag that I clip to my backpack for a week. This was an eye opening experience and (literally) helped me see what type of and how much trash I produced. Here are a few takeaways from my experience!
1. Not all paper and plastic are recyclable…
Before my 8:30 AM class, I stop by Hotung Café to pick up their sausage and egg breakfast sandwich. The packaging is made out of waxed paper and plastic. At first glance, I thought I would simply separate the plastic and paper, recycle, and go on with my day.
However, waxed paper cannot be recycled because paper is recycled with water, so any type of wax or oil coating would contaminate the batch. (Check out this infographic that illustrates this process by the Recycle Guide!)
Soft plastics and plastic bags cannot be recycled either. I learned about the Scrunch test—if the plastic item can be scrunched easily into a ball or breaks apart easily, it can’t go into your recycling bin. Unfortunately, the breakfast sandwich packaging ended up becoming the first item in my Ziploc bag.
2. I Use So. Many. Paper Towels
Maybe it’s living with friends, maybe it’s being in college, but my house uses up a lot of paper towels. I’ve noticed that I use them for the smallest things—wiping down the table, picking up food waste in the sink, or even drying my hands after doing the dishes.
These paper towels were piling up in my Ziploc quickly, and I realized I need to make a change in my cleaning habits. I first started to use a small cloth towel to wipe my hands after the dishes, and designated another small towel for wiping down the table.
3. Easy to cook? Difficult to recycle!
As college students, we are probably all guilty of buying premade, or easy-to-cook food like mac and cheese, frozen hot pockets, and ramen. I’ve noticed that I couldn’t recycle any of this packaging. During the Zero Waste Challenge, I started to cook a lot of things from scratch.
Instead of buying individually packaged meals, I bought items in bulk. I got glass bottles of sauces and a big package of noodles, both of which will last a long time. As an added bonus, I noticed that this only adds a few more minutes to my cooking!
We’re all excited for the upcoming holiday, but let’s also be conscious of our environmental impact. According to the USDA, Americans will throw away more that 200 million pounds of edible turkey meat this Thanksgiving holiday. Here are a few ways to prevent the wasteful and tragic aftermath of Thanksgiving.
Today is America Recycles Day!
To celebrate, Facilities Services and the Office of Sustainability are excited to announce the introduction of mixed recycling (single stream recycling) at the Tufts Medford/Somerville campus starting in the spring 2017 semester. The glass/metal/plastic and paper/cardboard bins on the Medford/Somerville campus will be replaced with mixed recycling bins that can be identified by their UFO-shaped lids, blue bags, and mixed recycling labels. The SMFA can look forward to seeing an increase in this style of bin in January as well.
The Cummings School and the Boston Health Sciences campus will be switched to mixed recycling in the summer of 2017.
Tufts currently uses a dual stream system, which requires separating glass, metal and plastic containers from paper and cardboard items. Starting in January 2017 all these items will now be collected in one bin.
What is Mixed Recycling?
“Mixed recycling” means that the items you normally sort into the blue and green-capped recycling bins (paper/cardboard and glass/metal/plastic) can be disposed of together. Recycling materials collected will remain the same but will not need to be separated.
Why is Tufts Moving to Mixed Recycling?
The ability to put paper/cardboard and glass/metal/plastic recycling in one bin will make recycling simple and easy, providing the campus community with two primary options for disposing of waste: “Mixed Recycling” or “Landfill” (along with composting for food waste in some locations).
The switch to mixed recycling is a direct reaction to the changing needs of the recycling industry: with increased demand for more efficient packaging and changes in personal habits, the makeup of the nation’s waste stream is changing. At one time, paper made up to 70 percent of the weight flowing through recycling programs, but now it accounts for less than 40 percent in many cities. More complex, lightweight materials have begun to replace paper; Tufts’ mixed recycling program will accommodate the disposal of these changing materials more efficiently.
Transitioning to mixed recycling supports Tufts’ larger plan to improve solid waste and recycling efforts in line with the President’s Campus Sustainability Council’s goal of reducing total waste by 3% per year. Every Tufts community member is asked and expected to help the university meet its waste goals by educating themselves about their campus’s move to mixed recycling.
On September 29th, Tufts Dining achieved the 3-star certification from the Green Restaurant Association (GRA), a nonprofit organization that recognizes food service providers for their work to become environmentally sustainable.
GRA rates on a 4-star scale in seven categories including:
Tufts is the first university to earn 10 GreenPoints™in each category and receive the 3-star certification for all ten of its dining locations on campus, and the first GRA-certified food service provider in Medford/Somerville!
Some of the changes Tufts Dining made include switching to low-flow aerators and pre-rise sprays, changing over to LED lighting in Dewick-MacPhie, and launching Rise Craft Pizza at Hotung Café which features environmentally friendly pizza boxes.
Tufts Dining plans to continue its sustainability initiatives and push for as many 4-star locations as possible. They will start by updating dish machines with a much more energy and water efficient machine in Mugar Hall.