Category: Sustainability News (page 3 of 44)

Give Thanks to the Earth: Tips for a More Sustainable Thanksgiving

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?  Your Friends? Your Family? Your health? All of these? Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to reflect on the year while surrounded by friends, family, and plenty of good food. What to give thanks to the Earth this year?

Here are a few tips on how to make your Thanksgiving plans more sustainable:

1. Consider Your Travel

According to the American Automotive Association, over 50 million Americans travel over 50 miles for their Thanksgiving meals. When traveling consider the impact of your flight and drive maybe stay closer to home this year. Remember that public transportation like buses and trains are much more efficient than driving in a car alone. Or try carpooling, Nuride is a great way for people living in Massachusetts to plan carpools. If you do leave home for the holiday, make sure to turn down the heat and unplug your electronics before you leave!

2. Reduce Food Waste:

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish? The mashed potatoes? Cranberry sauce? Pumpkin pie? Whichever it may be, keep in mind portion control; as difficult as it may be, take smaller portions because you can always get seconds. According to the NRDC around 40% of all food in the United States is wasted. Help combat food waste this Thanksgiving by cleaning your plate and saving your leftovers. Turn leftovers into delicious meals —leftover turkey and bones can make amazing soup or try making potato pancakes from mashed potatoes.

3. Go Meatless or Try Eating Less Meat:

The turkey is typically the centerpiece of any Thanksgiving dinner, so it may sound outlandish to consider going meatless this year. That being said, there are so many other delicious Thanksgiving dishes to be had, like mashed potatoes, kale, Brussels sprouts, green beans, and butternut squash soup. Even if you don’t want to go completely meatless, try putting less meat on your plate. The meat industry is a major contributor to climate change because of its methane production.

4. Use Reusable Dishware:

Prevent waste going into the landfill by using reusable napkins, dishes, silverware, and cups. In addition to being reusable, using real dishes brings a homier and warmer vibe to any meal.

5.Buy Local and Organic:

Local food is grown in your region and requires less fossil fuels and packaging for transportation. Organic food is grown without the use of pesticides which get into rivers and land and damage the ecosystems there. Organic and local food tends to be more expensive and this added cost is a barrier for many, but often goes on sale (find coupons and member sales with your grocery store’s rewards card). Whenever possible try to buy local or organic. Some farms even offer Thanksgiving CSA shares


Thanksgiving is a time to reconnect with friends and family over a delicious meal. Have some open conversations with and share ideas, interests, and passions; including your passions for sustainability. If you struggle with discussing sustainability, then check out these tips from One Tree Planted.

Holidays are easy occasions to be swept into a buzz of consumerism and excess, so keep some these tips in mind and enjoy a happy and sustainable Thanksgiving!



U.S. PIRG Fellows and Digital Campaigners

We’re looking for smart, passionate, and driven students who work well in a team and want to make a tangible difference.

U.S. PIRG is an advocate for the public interest, working to win concrete results on real problems that affect millions of lives. We do whatever it takes to get results and work in a bi-partisan and fact-driven manner. We value providing young activists with the skills needed to make real and lasting change in our country. And we’re hiring! Specifically, we’re hiring our 2018 class of U.S. PIRG Fellows and Digital Campaigners to help run powerful campaigns for the public interest!

Change is hard and we’re looking for the smart and passionate young people who will drive that change for the years to come.

We need students from Tufts to join our fight and become leaders who will stand up for what’s right!

The Fellowship program is a great entry point to fact-based advocacy. During your 2 year fellowship you will learn everything you need to know to become an advocate for issues like consumer protection, government reform, and modernizing our elections.

As a Digital Campaigner, you will support our campaign team by running a powerful digital campaign to tackle problems like the overuse of antibiotics and overturning Citizen’s United.

Application details: Interested Participants can apply here



Slacktivism or #Activism?

Content based on a Tisch College Civic Life Lunch given to professors, staff, and students at Tufts University.

Civic Life Lunch – #Standing Rock: Starting + Sustaining a Movement
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2017, 12 – 1PM

Featuring: LaDonna Brave Bull Allard & Cutcha Risling Baldy, Moderated by Tufts American Studies Professor Jami Powell

Join us for a conversation with LaDonna Brave Bull Allard & Cutcha Risling Baldy. LaDonna Brave Bull Allard is the Historian and Genealogist for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Allard is also the Founder and Director of the Sacred Stone Camp, a spirit camp established in April 2016 that has become the center of cultural preservation and spiritual resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline. Cutcha Risling Baldy is the Assistant Professor of Native American Studies at Humboldt State University, where her research focuses on #IndigenousHashtagActivism and #TheNewNativeIntellectualism and how Indigenous people are engaging in #HashtagActivism to achieve social change.

Social media has transformed the way people communicate and relate to the world in the last few years. It has been applauded as a unifier and simultaneously criticized as “fake news,” as a realm where people lose touch with reality and get trapped into a world of likes and retweets. Could it be that social media is actually the great equalizer? Could social media really be a platform that empowers the people to broadcast their truths to the world while mainstream media and “the news” continue to ignore or distort them?

Well, if you ask Professor Cutcha Risling Balding, she’d tell you that social media, especially Twitter, makes a huge impact on the growth and success of a movement, as seen at Standing Rock—one of the most widely recognized and recent cases of environmental injustice. Risling Balding studies hashtag activism of social justice movements and believes that there is no such thing as “slacktivism.” As she explained at the Civic Life Lunch, there is no harm done by retweeting and liking posts that elevate and amplify indigenous voices which are so often silenced. Often, people seeing these posts get inspired and feel empowered to do something to stand in solidarity, even if locally. These actions can have a huge impact, pushing the mainstream media to actually cover movements on the news and even calling out the President to come out with a public stance on an issue.

Calling these actions “slacktivism” actively works to downplay the importance of movements that are seen as “indigenous issues.” The reality is that water protectors at Standing Rock, organized by young indigenous women, were putting their lives on the line to protect water in the Missouri River from pollution because “Mni Wiconi,” “Water is Life”—a universal truth for all living beings. Access to clean and safe drinking water is a human rights issue facing many communities in the US, disproportionately communities of color. Social Media enabled millions of non-native people to become allies and engage with the Standing Rock water protectors through retweets and likes of their posts, checking in at Standing Rock on Facebook, watching live videos and pictures as evidence of the police brutality and militarization. All of this shaped the narrative of what was happening at Standing Rock, instead of it being entirely decided by distant, out of touch, and inaccurate media and government reports.

This so called “slacktivism” caught the attention of media outlets and politicians who now had to address the sovereignty rights of the Sioux tribe in the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. News outlets began to invite and speak to indigenous people involved with the #NoDAPL movement. This is one step further in the movement to decolonize Native American tribes and the United States, and bring awareness to the public of the real, living, contemporary indigenous people who are able to further shape the narrative of social movements through social media.

Part-time Lecturer, Environmental Policy, Planning & Politics; Tufts University: School of Arts & Sciences: Urban Environmental Policy Planning (Medford, Ma)

The Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning and the Environmental Studies Program at Tufts University are searching for a part‐time lecturer for spring 2018 to teach UEP 0094-01/ENV 0094-01 Environmental Policy, Planning and Politics. UEP 094/ENV 094 is a core course in the Environmental Studies Program introducing students to the complexities of US environmental policy and planning through a case-based approach. Students in the Environmental Studies Program can take core courses in the major in any order, so the course will include first-years through seniors as well as undergraduates from other majors such as Political Science and Engineering. A syllabus for how the course has been taught recently is available upon request.

Open only to undergraduates, the course introduces students to the concepts and techniques central to environmental policy, including the important roles played by politics and planning. It serves as a foundation for further work in Environmental Studies or as a broad overview of the issues key in the field. Case studies offer insights at local, state, national and international levels into systems thinking, transboundary issues, and stakeholder perspectives in Environmental Policy and Planning. Emphasis is placed on the interplay of science, technology, and values in the development and implementation of policies and plans.



Candidates ideally will have a graduate degree in environmental policy, planning or related field. Well-qualified Environmental Lawyers (JD or JD/MA) with appropriate environmental policy experience will also be considered. Candidates must show evidence of successful teaching in Environmental Policy or closely related areas.

Please submit a cover letter, CV, sample course syllabus, course evaluations, and contact information for three references. Questions about the position may be directed to Ninian Stein, Lecturer, Environmental Studies Program, at Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

Application details: Apply online  

China’s National Sword


Recycling is complicated. Most people see their recyclables taken off of their curbs each week and think that it’s the end of the process, but really it is just the beginning:

  1. From there, the recyclables are taken to a recycling sorting center, where all of the plastics, papers, and metals are sorted and packaged together with like materials.
  2. Then the recyclables are sold to manufacturers domestically and internationally on a commodities market.

The above video shows how mixed recycling is sorted.

The Changing Recycling Market in China

Some recyclables end up in China since it is the largest importer of recyclables from around the world. China uses these raw materials to drive their manufacturing based economy. The U.S.—China recycling relationship began when China sent over cargo ships full of exports to the U.S. and instead of sending those ships back to China empty, the U.S. began sending back discarded recyclables.

Beginning in 2013, China began regulating what recyclables were coming into the country, because historically most of the recycled materials that were sent to China were unsorted, contaminated with non-recyclable materials, and contained hazardous waste. The 2013 policy was known as the Green Fence and random inspections of shipments of recyclables began. The country began to reject shipments if they were contaminated, thus the total amount of recycled material that China receives has declined since 2013. The newest change to recycling policy is the National Sword. In this new policy, the Chinese government has banned 24 materials and has increased the rigor of the inspections.

How does this impact Tufts?

Now trash goes in blue bags and recyclable in clear bags!

Because of the National Sword, Tufts can no longer use blue bags in the recycling bins. Blue bags are opaque and prevent the recycling sorting facility from being able to see whether they are filled with trash. Instead of throwing out our blue bags, Tufts is repurposing them.  Tufts will continue to use the blue bags for trash bags until the blue bags run out.

As consumers and recyclers alike, we all need to make sure that we are properly sorting our recycling from trash. Help us keep our recycling clean so it can actually be used again! This is the only way to ensure that the recycling facility will not reject our recycling.

Never put these items in the recycling bin:

  • Liquids
  • Food waste
  • Plastic bags

Remember these items, and nothing else, go in the recycling bin:

  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Glass
  • Metal (aluminum)*
  • Rigid plastics*

* = If you have a rigid plastic or aluminum to-go container, please rinse or wipe off food waste before recycling it.


For more information on recycling at Tufts visit the Facilities Services – Recycling & Waste Management website or email

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