This semester, ATO of Massachusetts GreEco-Reps Grace Aro, A17, and Matt Stewart, A19, initiated the chapter’s first semester-long environmental challenge. Members are encouraged to incorporate environmentally friendly habits into their daily routine, and are awarded a certain number of points for each eco-friendly act they perform.
Points are tabulated by Aro and Stewart, who keep track of the sustainable acts through Snapchats from members. At the end of the semester, the member with the most points wins a prize of their choosing. Each member receives one point and a “Green Greeks” sticker for their first green act, and then one point for each act thereafter. For example, requesting and using a compost bin for your apartment, dorm, etc. is ten points. Compost bins are worth the most points because one of the GreEco Rep goals for this year has been to get all the houses with GreEco Reps to compost. Additionally, having a compost bin is more work than most other sustainable tasks, and Aro wanted that level of commitment to be recognized.
This semester, the GreEco Reps are encouraging their communities to try small actions that can be done every day. However, Aro finds that for some, doing these things feels inconvenient or difficult to remember. To combat this, Aro was inspired to start a competition. She realized that members would be more likely to be convinced to make small, positive changes to their daily routines if they could win prizes. According to Aro, the competition is popular so far, with 18 active participants and 5 new composters, although members need the occasional reminder at weekly chapter meetings. Since Aro and Stewart brought the idea forward, Delta Tau Delta and Chi Omega have started their own green competitions.
As we in the U.S. have shifted into a further mechanized world and moved into urban and suburban areas, we have separated ourselves from our food web and the impacts it has on our communities. On March 26th, Ganei Beantown: Beantown Jewish Gardens will be hosting the Boston Jewish Food Conference—Community Networks: Exploring our local food web. This day-long event will facilitate discussion of “food sourcing, distribution, and consumption, as well as the role of culture, institutions, and our homes” through several workshops and a Community Celebration. Our own Education and Outreach Program Administrator, Shoshana Blank, will be speaking on a panel about the individual actions and organizational changes within Tufts University to reduce food waste.
This conference is a wonderful opportunity to explore the ways we and our local communities are involved in our larger food and agriculture systems. Nourishing ourselves from within these systems impacts the ecosystem of many parts of our country and is a large source of greenhouse gases and fossil fuel emissions. We are a part of this system, and as a community, can work to create positive, sustainable change.
On February 2nd, 2017 Tufts Dining hosted the annual Waste Less Dinner in Dewick. At the dinner, students were encouraged to only take what they could finish, and to eat everything on their plate. Student volunteers collected and weighed any food waste before dirty dishes were sent through the conveyor belt into the dish room.
Food waste is one of the largest components in our landfills, and emits CO2 into the atmosphere as it breaks down.
Take a look at pictures from the event below!
Juleen Wong, A17, a volunteer at the Waste Less Dinner, disposes of food waste before sending the plate back into the kitchen.
Students line up to hand volunteers their dirty dishes at the Waste Less Dinner.
Dana, Manager of Dewick-MacPhie (right), and Gary, Manager of Hodgdon (left) attend the Waste Less Dinner.
Students collect the food waste from Waste Less Dinner attendees’ plates.
Students volunteer to help run the Waste Less Dinner.
A view of the food waste station from above
Tufts Dining provides information about reducing food waste at Tufts.
This spring semester, 10 Tufts labs are participating in The Freezer Challenge (4 on Boston Campus, 2 Dept. of Engineering, 4 Dept. of Biology) –including the labs of Stuart Levy, Karl Munger, Catherine Freudenreich, Sergei Mirkin, Juliet Fuhrman, Nikhil U. Nair, Jamie Maguire, Thomas Biederer, and James Van Deventer. Their goal: to optimize their freezer use to be as energy efficient possible. In fact, a lab freezer—one of the most energy intensive pieces of equipment in a research lab—consumes the same amount of electricity as the average U.S. household each year. At Tufts, research labs and hospital facilities have the largest impact in production of waste, use of water, and consumption of energy.
This spring, with the help and support of the Tufts’ Green Lab Initiative, Tufts’ labs will be working to reduce their freezers’ energy consumption!
If your lab hasn’t joined the 2017 Freezer Challenge, do not fret. Here are 5 easy steps you can take to increase your lab’s energy efficiency:
- Take inventory of your freezer, consolidate, and share space – post the location of specific items on the freezer door so that they don’t get lost, buried, or forgotten. Be sure to clearly label your samples with the date, type of sample, and researcher’s name, and discard any old, unwanted samples. Try to keep your newly cleaned out freezer full for maximum efficiency by sharing with others.
- Set Ultra Low Temperature (ULT) freezers at the highest required temperature (-70°C is adequate for most bio-molecules and many microbial cultures and DNAs can be stored at -20°C).
- Install ULT freezer monitors with alarms that will notify you of temperature failures & keep your samples safe.
- Keep your freezers in a well-ventilated area – this helps reduce excess energy consumption by avoiding external heat sources.
- Defrost & clean your freezer – try to do so at least once a year to remove any blockages to a proper seal and clear space for sample storage. Clean dusty condenser filters to clear blockages to heat removal.
As a bonus tip, consider purchasing a more efficient ULT Freezer. New, conventional ULT freezers use between 16 and 22 kWh per day, overtime they can become less energy efficient. Energy efficient units can use as little as 8kWh/day, which can make a huge difference in your lab’s energy use! You can also save money by purchasing a ULT freezer! Utility companies frequently offer large rebates to labs who switch.