Category: Tufts Community News (page 1 of 43)

Earth Lovers

Happy Valentine’s day from the Office of Sustainability! Who is your special Valentine this year? This year (and every year) our valentine is the Earth! We love the Earth, because it is our home and like any home, we have to care for it and show our appreciation every day. The Earth gives so much to us and asks for so little in return, but every now and then, our beautiful home could use some help and appreciation.

Valentine’s Day may only be one day a year, but you can show the Earth how much you love it every day!

These are just some of the things we do to show Earth love today and every day:

  • Conserve energy: turn off the lights!
  • Grab a reusable mug to get some coffee.
  • Bundle up, instead of turning up the heat.
  • Be prepared: carry a reusable shopping bag everywhere!
  • Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot
  • Compost: turn spoil into soil.
  • Unplug all electronic devices and spend time with friends and family.

How do you show your love for the Earth?

We asked the Eco-Reps to send us their thoughts about loving the Earth. Here are a couple of their responses:

Plastic Bag Ban in Boston

The other day, I was walking home with a friend when suddenly she stopped and grabbed my arm “Look, its an owl in the tree!” she exclaimed! Upon closer inspection, our owl was really a white plastic bag perched in the branches. Unfortunately, this experience is not a novel one; every day, we walk past plastic litter in the streets and without thinking twice about it, but the City of Boston has decided to do something about this. This past December, Boston became the 60th community in Massachusetts to introduce a “ban” on plastic bags. The “ban” that will go into effect December of 2018, but it isn’t exactly a ban. Consumers will still be able to use plastic bags in the city, but there will be a 5 cent charge for each bag used. This ban is essentially a tax on plastic bags, incentivizing consumers to bring their own bags while shopping in Boston.

There is strong evidence that these plastic bag bans are extremely effective at reducing the amount of plastic waste in the environment. According to Scientific American, the plastic bag tax which was implemented in Ireland in 2002 has to lead to 95% reduction in plastic bag litter in the Irish environment. In San Jose, a plastic bag ban has reduced the amount of plastic bags found in storm drains by 90%.

Only time will tell how effective the ban will we at reducing plastic waste in Boston, but there are simple actions that consumers can do to reduce the amount of plastic waste in the environment. The easiest way to reduce your plastic consumption is to bring reusable bags whenever you go shopping!

For more tips on reducing your waste while shopping checks out some tips from Bea Johnson!

From Ethnobotany to Energy Democracy—ENVS Lunch & Learn 2018

Content based on an Environmental Studies Lunch & Learn Talk given to professors, staff, and students at Tufts University. Every week during the academic year, the ENVS Lunch & Learn lecture series features speakers from government, industry, academia and non-profit organizations to give presentations on environmental topics. This is a great opportunity to broaden your knowledge beyond the curriculum, meet other faculty and students and network with the speakers.
Students, faculty, staff, and members of the community are welcome to attend.
This lecture series is co-sponsored by the Tufts Institute of the Environment and the Tisch College of Civic Life.
Medicinal Plants in their Environments: The chemical warfare of ethnobotany
John de la Parra, Visiting Lecturer, Tufts Experimental College
Watch video
Redistributing Power: Energy Democracy, Renewables & Community Resilience
Jennie Stephens, Dean’s Professor of Sustainability Science & Policy, Northeastern University
Watch video

This semester, the Environmental Studies Lunch & Learns are off to a great start with an emphasis on justice and respecting the knowledge, needs, and problem solving of indigenous people, women, communities of color and low-income communities.

The first talk of the semester, given by John de la Parra, explored the intersections of indigenous knowledge and medicine, and advancements in the biotechnology sphere that increase consistency of products through standardization and analysis. He began by centering the talk on respecting a woman’s knowledge as powerful, as he explains that in many cultures, medicine people are women who know their way around the local plants. About 80% of the world uses plants to heal themselves. Knowledge of the native plants in a given area points to understanding chemical differences between plants that impact their healing qualities and abilities based on their own “chemical warfare—reactions to pathogens, weather or drought, other plants, and herbivores. Ethnobotany pairs the technological advances now available with this indigenous knowledge to grow a huge density of plants within the controlled environment of a bioreactor—needing fewer inputs—to produce concentrated tinctures for different illnesses. De la Parra discusses these lab experiments as a way to create very specific instructions to make treatments accessible—possibly by drone drop-offs—to people all around the world who may be unable to afford or reach pharmaceuticals.  Ethnobotany can produce a product to be used by indigenous cultures to treat existing health problems.

In another talk, Jennie Stephens discussed the movement of Energy Democracy—a concept that connects the energy system transitions away from fossil fuels and toward renewables to social change. The energy democracy integrates concerns about the environment, climate change, social justice, income inequality, racism, wealth, and human rights. This vision is an alternative to fossil fuel dominated systems, as the fossil fuel industry is the most profitable industry in the world and the biggest contributor to climate change. This resistance is forming as a response to growing inequalities, unequal distribution of the impacts of energy and climate change, and the political power of the fossil fuel industry. We are in this energy transition from fossil fuels, even if we sometimes feel we are stuck without much progress. The Energy Democracy sees this transition as an opportunity to democratize and decentralize energy while intentionally advancing justice through inclusion and awareness of the implications and connections between issues of inequality, justice, climate, and energy. Stephens posits that renewable energy systems offer a possibility, but not a certainty for more democratic energy futures.

Stay tuned for more Environmental Studies Lunch & Learns highlighting the intersections of the environment, climate change, and justice.

Apply to Live in the Green House!

Did you know that Tufts has a Green House? Located in the D tower of Latin way is the Tufts Green House, which is a specialty housing option for people who want to live an intentionally sustainable lifestyle. The group of ten who live in the Green House work together throughout the year to reduce their environmental impact by preventing waste, composting, and learning together about more sustainable habits.

Each year the Green House also undertakes a few sustainability-themed projects. This year the house helped run the Brown and Blue Pass It Down sale at the beginning of the school year. All of the items that were sold during the sale were collected during move-out the previous spring.  All of the items that were sold would have likely ended up in the landfill if they were not collected. The house has also partnered with groups on campus; last semester, they partnered with the Eco-Reps to put on a “Sewing & Saving” event to save and up-cycle clothing, the house also partnered with Students for Environmental Awareness to organized a clothing swap before the Sustainaball. Early awareness and education about sustainability is vital for building the next generation of environmentalist, that is why the Green House has been partnering with local elementary schools to promote a more sustainable early education. Finally, the Green House has been working with the Office of Sustainability to propose the new Green Fund, which will be a fund that students can use to fund sustainability-themed projects on campus.

When living in the Green House students also have the unique opportunity to meet and work with others from different backgrounds and viewpoints for the common goal of a more sustainable future. Megan Bateman, the manager of the Green House, describes her experience living in the Green House:
The best thing about living in the Green House is getting to create an intentional space with like-minded people. Setting rules and goals for ourselves creates structure and stability during a time that can be confusing and difficult to navigate. Our love for a sustainable living and desire to continually improve has made the Green House a place of positivity, growth, and mutual support. My favorite part has been watching all of us grow closer together and learn how best to support one another as each of us strives to support our planet.

Paul Henjen, another Green House resident is also the Assistant Coordinator of the Eco-Reps explained his favorite part about living in the Green House:
My favorite things about living in the Green House are the people. I always feel welcomed whenever I walk into the House and I always feel supported by the community. Also, the Green House residents all have different backgrounds and interests, and this mix allows me to gain new insights into topics I don’t know about and expand my knowledge of ones I do know about.

Interested in living in the Green House next semester? Apply now!

STARS Sustainability Data Intern, Tufts Office of Sustainability Spring 2018-Fall 2018

Position Description:

The Tufts Office of Sustainability is seeking a graduate student to serve as a STARS Sustainability Data intern. STARS is The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System. From stars.aashe.org “The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS®) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. STARS is composed up of credits that span the breadth of higher education sustainability and include performance indicators and criteria organized into four categories: Academics, Engagement, Operations, and Planning & Administration. An institution may pursue credits that are applicable to its particular context and earn points toward a STARS Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum rating.” Tufts received a STARS Silver level in November 2015 and we are looking to meet or exceed that level in fall 2018.

The STARS Sustainability Data intern will manage all data collection for the STARS reporting process and will be contacting various Tufts staff, faculty, and students in order to obtain information to fulfill each STARS credit. This will involve managing a large spreadsheet with 64 different credits that Tufts can earn, ranging from the number of courses teaching sustainability across the university to Tufts building energy consumption and much more. The intern will contact anywhere from 40 – 70 people from Tufts and its vendors to find the data and then will record that data in an organized spreadsheet. The intern will read each of the 64 credits in full to figure out the data they will need to collect from the Tufts community.

Hours & Timeframe: The STARS Sustainability Data intern is expected to work approximately 8 – 12 hours per week (between the hours of 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM) through the academic year. Preferably, the student could work at least 20 hours per week during summer 2018.

Pay: $15/hour

Required Skills & Qualifications:

  • Mastery of Microsoft Excel
  • Experience with data collection and management
  • Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal
  • High attention to detail
  • Very organized
  • Tufts graduate student

Preferred Skills & Qualifications:

  • Experience in Sustainability

Apply!

Please send a cover letter and resume to Shoshana.Blank@tufts.edu

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