Category: Tufts Community News (page 1 of 58)

Job Postings 9/26/22

Experiential Learning Manager Los Angeles, CA Application Deadline: Open until filled

Project Coordinator – Environmental Justice, Food Security & Sustainability Wesleyan University- Middletown, CT Application Deadline: Open until filled

Sustainability Coordinator Ogden, UT Application Deadline: October 11

Clean Energy and Climate Intern Boston, MA Application Deadline: Open until filled

Fall Spaces Intern Somerville, MA Application Deadline: Open until filled

Job Postings 8/24/22

EcoLeague Coordinator Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA Application Deadline: August 29

Climate Action Campaign Fellowship Washington, D.C. / Remote Application Deadline: Open until filled

Intern, US Education, Hunger, and Resilience Remote Application Deadline: September 6

Residential Building Decarbonization Intern Boston, MA Application Deadline: Open until filled

City of Somerville internship Somerville, MA/ Remote Application Deadline: Open until filled

Community Engagement Intern Boston, MA Application Deadline: Open until filled

Urban Planning Data Intern Cambridge, MA Application Deadline: September 13

Plastic is More Special Than You Think

Written by David Rivas, Specialty Recycling Intern

From switching to reusable bags at the supermarket to taking modes of transportation that produce less pollution, sustainability has become a part of our daily lives. The same is true at Tufts. As a community member on one of our four campuses, everyone has the opportunity to compost food waste at dining and residence halls, move-in and move-out sustainably, and (what I’ve been focusing on this summer) recycle unique items through our specialty recycling program.

Have you ever stared at a plastic bag or one of those Amazon shipping envelopes, wondering if you could put it in the recycling bin?

On first glance, it would seem that you should put them in a recycling bin since it often has a recycling symbol and is made of plastic. But, a closer look into Massachusetts recycling rules tells us that soft plastic should NOT be put into the regular mixed recycling stream. Traditional recycling facilities cannot handle soft items like plastic bags because they get caught and jam the machinery. But, that doesn’t mean that bag or envelope has to end up straight in the trash.

Refuse, Reduce, Reuse

Our first suggestion is to think of ways to limit the amount of items that you buy new to limit the amount of materials that you dispose of. If you already have items that you’re going to throw out – take a second to think if you can reuse said items in a new way. Maybe you use the plastic bag to line your dorm trash can instead of buying new trash bags. Or perhaps you could save the Amazon sleeve to store fragile items during move out.

Recycle, specially!

If you have accumulated more than you can reuse, you can next check if the item can avoid going to the trash and instead be composted, recycled, or specialty recycled. Specialty recycling is separate from traditional mixed recycling and allows you to recycle unique items instead of having to throw them away. Watch this video to see specialty recycling in action.

Specialty recycling bins can be easily found on your phone or computer using the Tufts Eco-Map, a user-friendly tool to find sustainability features on campus.

Tufts most common specialty recycling streams include:

  • Plastic film: Allows for soft plastics such as grocery bags, bubble wrap, plastic padded envelopes, ziploc bags, and any other type of soft plastic classified as #2 or #4 recyclable. These are made into composite lumber for benches and shipping pallets.
  • Batteries: Prevents toxic chemicals found inside batteries from being introduced to the environment and landfills. Battery terminals must be taped with clear tape (as shown) before being placed in the bins. Most buildings on our four campuses have battery recycling bins.
  • Electronics: Broken cell phones, tablets, keyboards, charging cords, earphones, and other small electronics can be placed in electronic recycling bins. For large appliances such as monitors, microwaves, and printers, you can submit a Facilities service request to have it picked up. The metals and raw materials are separated out from these items and made into new electronics.
  • Ink and toner: Empty ink and toner cartridges can be placed in a specialty recycling station or can be mailed to the manufacturer (we’ve partnered with W.B. Mason). These materials are taken apart and reused in new ink and toner cartridges.
  • Textiles and clothing: Clothing, most types of footwear, textile-based accessories, linens, and stuffed animals are accepted in textile recycling locations. On the Medford/Somerville Campus, textile recycling is made possible with the help of Bay State Textiles, which have several large outdoor donation containers.
  • Lightbulbs: Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) must be disposed of by a Facilities service request. These bulbs contain traces of mercury that are toxic, so it is best to keep them out of landfill areas. CFLs can be exchanged for LEDs at the Office of Sustainability free of charge! Incandescent and LED light bulbs can be placed in the trash.

There are also more campus-specific specialty recycling streams. At the Grafton campus, you can recycle contact lenses, razor blades, Brita filters, and Purina food bags. At the Boston campus, you can recycle fitness trackers and oral care products like toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, and floss containers.

A bar graph showing the amount of each type of waste produced yearly between 2005 and 2021.
There has been a slight decrease of annual waste production as we work towards a reduction in overall waste. There is still work to be done to divert more of our waste away from landfills and towards more sustainable waste streams. *Note that data collection for FY20 & FY21 was impacted by COVID.

Thanks to the efforts of many students and employees to dispose of waste sustainably, Tufts has achieved an extremely low 7% contamination rate in recycling streams, compared to average rate of 15-25% on other college and university campuses. To join this effort to divert waste from landfills and reduce pollution in our communities, we encourage you to get familiar with the specialty recycling locations on your campus and think twice before tossing items into the trash – you may be able to give them a second life instead.

“Green” Your Move-Out

The first weeks of May are always a hectic time around Tufts campus. As the weather gets warmer and classes end, students are busy with finals, commencement, and summer plans. At the Office of Sustainability, this means that it’s time to start helping with move-out! Every year, our goal is to promote easy, sustainable move out practices by providing donation stations across campus. Read on to learn about why and how we make sustainable move-out possible at Tufts! 

Why does sustainable move-out matter? 

OOS Back to School Sale 2017 

By taking the time to recycle, reuse, and donate unwanted items during move-out, you can help reduce your impact on the environment by diverting items from the landfill and helping them find a new home. In 2021, we collected 9 tons of donations from students, meaning we kept 9 tons of move-out waste from going straight to the landfills! 

Even better, our non-landfill disposal options help others at Tufts and beyond because almost all of the donations we receive from move out will go to students at the FIRST center, future Jumbos at our Back to School Sale this fall, or to other students and people in need of quality supplies through our other donation partnerships. 

How do I donate my items? 

We have three donation stations set up across campus: Haskell, Houston, and Hill Hall. Until May 23rd, you can drop off gently used unneeded items at your closest donation site, where they will be sorted by our staff and prepped for donation! 

Where will your donations go? 

Dorm room items: sheets, blankets, fans, mirrors, etc. 

  • This year we are excited to be partnering with Grad Bag, an organization that accepts donations from college students, cleans them, and redistributes them back to students in need.
  • A portion of these donations will go to incoming students supported by the FIRST Center. In this way, your donation of lightly used sheets and dorm essentials can directly make an impact on your peers.
  • Many of your donations will go towards our Back to School Sale, which we will be hosting this fall for the first time since the pandemic began! These items are given away for free or sold for very low prices- all proceeds go to the Office of Sustainability to help continue sustainable programming.

Unwanted clothing and textiles 

  • We work with Bay State Textiles to reuse and repurpose unwanted fabrics and clothing items instead of letting them end up in the landfill.  

Electronics 

  • We are offering specialty recycling at each of our donation stations. Bring your batteries, ink & toner, and electronics when you donate your items. Find out more about this service here, available at select locations on campus year-round.  

Crutches, Braces, and Splints 

As the school year comes to a close and we begin the move out process, consider making your spring cleaning “green” by donating your unwanted items at one of our stations! 

For a complete list of donatable and recyclable items, visit our Move Out Page.

Tufts’ Science and Engineering Complex Celebrated for Outstanding Sustainability

We are proud to share that Tufts’ Science and Engineering Complex (SEC) has received the Honor Award for the Boston Society for Architecture’s 2021 Sustainable Design Awards, recognizing the SEC as an “outstanding achievement” that “demonstrates the systematic integration of sustainability.”

One of most energy efficient research buildings in the world

We sat down with the designers of the SEC, Payette (a Boston-based architecture firm), to find out why the SEC stands out in the field of sustainable infrastructure. They told us that from the very beginning, Tufts Operations Division, led by Barb Stein, vice president for operations, set an explicit goal to make the SEC as energy efficient as possible. The project team researched the best performing sustainable buildings at the time and set a target to surpass those achievements. “Sustainability was considered in every decision,” the team says.

Image credit: Chuck Choi

These efforts resulted in a building that uses 70% less energy than a typical lab building, which are usually energy hogs compared to other types of buildings, and is certified LEED gold. Instead of demolishing existing buildings and starting new, the project built upon Robinson Hall and Bromfield-Pearson to join them together. This reduced carbon emissions during the building process and reused a large amount of building material. The Boston Society for Architecture cited this in their comments saying, “By saving an existing historic building and renovating another building (that was originally not included in the initial client brief), the existing building likely gained another 50 years of usefulness.”

Image credit: Chuck Choi

The SEC also features:

  • triple glazing on windows for temperature control
  • a solar panel array
  • ample natural light
  • a rainwater capture system
  • an ethical food sourcing café
  • efficient heating and cooling, including a heat recovery system that re-captures up to 72% of the building’s heat that would otherwise be lost

Breaking Ground

Payette staff accepting the Honor Award from the Boston Society for Architecture. Clockwise form the top: Robert Pasersky, Kevin Sullivan, Diana Tsang, and Andrea Love. Image credit: Paige McWhorter.

According to Robert Pasersky, Andrea Love, and Diana Tsang of the Payette design team, this recognition from the Boston Society for Architecture provides validation for the team’s efforts and Tufts’ drive to integrate sustainability into everything they do. “This building project was not just about checking boxes to label the SEC as a sustainable building, Tufts set ambitious targets early on and the project team never lost sight of those goals,” says the Payette team.

With much more work ahead of us to reach our university sustainability goals, Tufts is building constant momentum to make energy efficient upgrades big and small across all campuses. With the recent opening of the ultra-efficient Joyce Cummings Center, Tufts is accelerating its progress to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

« Older posts