Category: Tufts Community News (page 2 of 27)

4 Quick Tips to Keep Your Dorm Room Green During Spring Break

Spring break is finally upon us, and many of us can’t wait to head out for some much needed R&R. But whether you’re heading home, hitting the beach somewhere warmer, taking a road trip or going off the grid for a few days of hiking, don’t forget that all the systems that make your dorm room comfortable when school is in session keep working even when you aren’t!

If you’re leaving campus for the week, take a second while you pack or prep to go over this mini-checklist. Help ensure that your dorm room or apartment is using as little energy as possible while you’re away.

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Not only will this help reduce heat loss, it’s also a good precaution to take in case of heavy rain and wind.

If you’re able to control your room temperature, turn it down to about 65 degrees, or slightly cooler than you normally keep it. You’ll be able to quickly bring your room back up to temperature when you return. (But fingers crossed that it’ll be warm enough that you won’t need to!)

(via Tufts Photo)


3. Report any leaking faucets.

Alert Facilities to the leak before you leave. Small drips add up!

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4. Unplug any non-essential appliances.

Don’t worry about your refrigerator, but if you have a coffee machine, toaster, alarm clock, desk lamp, hair dryer, game console or other appliance which doesn’t need to stay on during the break, unplug it to reduce phantom energy loss.

(Photo via


4 Takeaways from Tufts’ On-Campus Apartment Composting Program


Growing up, my family always had a little white bucket with a green lid next to our sink. While cooking, we’d fill it with fruit peels, coffee grounds, the rough ends of root vegetables: basically anything our chickens wouldn’t eat. Once the bucket filled up, someone (usually my dad) would dump the contents onto a large pile in our backyard. And just like that, we composted!

Okay, it’s a little more complicated than that, as I learned over time – composting also requires attention to temperature, contaminants, and other environmental factors – but composting was an entirely normal part of our kitchen system. Tufts’ new apartment composting program operates a lot like that: it’s an easy introduction into the practice of composting, with institutional support to make sure you know what you’re doing (and someone else takes care of the complicated parts!).

The program provides apartments with a compost bin, instructions, odor-reducing materials, and ongoing support. And it’s really that simple!


Here are a few things I’ve learned so far:

1. Location, Location, Location

Placement matters! In my parents’ kitchen, the compost bin sits right next to the sink, which made it just as easy to throw something into the compost as into the trash. In our dorm, there’s no ideal location, so the compost bin sits on the wide sill of the kitchen window. The trash is closer to our cooking space and much more visible, which was initially an obstacle to adjusting our  behaviors.

TIP: If you can’t relocate your compost bin, play around with others to make it more convenient and visible. My suitemate requested a sign explaining what could and could not be composted, and I hung it next to the stove so anyone cooking or reaching into the cabinet would be reminded. The positive association with Zac Efron might help, too.


2. Composting is Contagious

For a few weeks, I was the only one using the bin, but my suitemates have really gotten on board. And not only are they composting, but they ask me clarifying questions and once even moved some food scraps out of the trash and into the compost bin! I haven’t figured out whether they are merely following my lead because my behavior has normalized composting or whether they’re afraid of my judgment if they don’t compost….

TIP: Be a composting trendsetter! There are a lot of reasons why people don’t compost, whether out of habit or from lack of knowledge. Like most behavior changes, though, reinforcing the ease and benefits of a behavior is a lot more effective than trying to make people feel bad for their current habits.

Kate, CJ, and Savannah from TuftsRecycles! are excited to have so many students composting!

3. Don’t Procrastinate

Emptying our compost bin remains our only challenge. I’m typically the one taking it out, so I’ll put it off because I have to take the container out and bring it back in and therefore can’t do it on the way to class… It’s really not a hardship at all, but it requires a little forethought and I tend to put off emptying the bin. Our bin fills up pretty quickly and during the warmer months, we’ve dealt with odors and fruit flies. Luckily, TuftsRecycles! sends out weekly reminders.

TIP: Try to set a regular date and time to take out your compost. You could even set a reminder on your phone or calendar. Emptying your compost early and often will reduce smells and prevent messes! There are drop-off locations all across campus.

4. It’s Not Just Food Scraps

Many compost programs accept items like non-plastic utensils and packing materials when made out of organic, readily decomposable materials. Once you start composting, you start noticing items in your life which you could replace with compostable items. For instance, our suite uses bleached paper towels, but if we switched to non-bleached – the brown kind Tufts uses in bathrooms across campus – we could compost those as well. The long-term best option would be to move away from paper towels altogether, but it would be a start!

TIP: When in doubt, this handy guide will help you sort it out. Municipal or private composting guidelines in greater Boston might be different from places where you have composted in the past.

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Your Turn: Get Composting!

  • Request a bin for your dorm or on-campus apartment.
  • You can always just use a bucket or bin of your own, preferably one with a lid and some ventilation.
  • The Tufts Bookstore now stocks compost bags to line your bin.
  • No matter where you live or whether you are part of the program, you can dump your compost at central compost locations on campus.


  • Live off-campus or not at Tufts? Look into composting in your backyard or participating in a municipal composting program. Medford and Somerville offer compost bins and can help connect you with a compost collector.

You’d be surprised how much of your kitchen waste you can divert from a landfill through this one simple change.


Apply to be an Eco-Representative!



Are you eager to learn and teach about ecological issues? Are you outgoing and a self-starter? Do you practice environmentally responsible behavior and want to share such practices with your hallmates and peers? Apply to be an Eco-Rep!

The Tufts Eco-Reps are a group of residential students who help to raise awareness about ecological issues, encourage environmentally responsible behavior among their hall mates and peers, and plan related events and activities. Other duties will include group activities, collaborative projects, and opportunities to represent the Eco-Reps Program at various campus events. Any returning student that lives in university housing is eligible. Learn more  about being an Eco-Rep.

Applications are open for the 2016-2017 school year. Submit your application to by April 5th.



Hillside Community Meeting — Medford Campus

What additions would you make to the retail mix along Boston Ave and the commercial node at Winthrop Street in Medford? How frequently do you patronize the businesses that are there now, and what would make you spend more time in the area? How could the streetscape be improved? Traffic calming? Safer pedestrian and bike circulation? Bike racks? Benches? Trees? Pedestrian-scale street lights? Parklets? Student housing? Mixed-use development? How do you think the future College Ave Green Line Station will/should affect the Boston Ave corridor and Tufts campus?

Tufts students, staff, and faculty are invited to share their ideas about improving the Hillside business district and surrounding neighborhood and helping to shape its future. The Business and Economic Development Committee of Mayor Burke’s Transition Team will be hosting a a community meeting to promote discussion on these critical topics.

The community meeting is tonight, Wednesday, March 9, from 6 pm to 8 pm, in room 401 of 574 Boston Ave.

Can’t make tonight’s meeting? Visit the website of the City of Medford for future meeting dates.


Sustainability Spotlight—Tufts Support Services:

A Conversation with Karin Barry and Anita Robbins


Sustainability Spotlight

The Green Team and Eco-Ambassadors at Tufts Support Services (TSS)—located in the blue and white structure and sandwiched between the Hangar and Pearson Hall—have been working hard to implement more sustainability initiatives within their new building. Karin Barry and Anita Robbins, along with their team members Lauren MacDonald, Maureen Hallett, and Andrea Carlino, have been able to implement composting in the office, which was originally received with skepticism but is now in such high demand that they need to empty their compost bin two to three times a week; light sensors and prompts to remind employees to turn off lights when not in use; water filters to encourage use of reusable water bottles and glasses; and the end of disposable utensils and dishes in the office—employees bring in their own flatware to use and clean at the office or utilize communal options. They are currently looking into vendors to help the office go paperless, which would make a huge impact on the waste in the office. They are also making strides to incorporate the ease of a Keurig without the waste of the disposable cups by testing out different reusable cups options.


Karin Barry (right from center), Anita Robbins (right of Karin), and others from Tufts Support Services receive the Office’s Gold level Green Office Certification.

Both Karin and Anita have been involved in sustainability for years now. They were in the first few classes of the Eco-Ambassador program and started due to an interest in the environment. In fact, Anita first enrolled because of her time as a temp at a recycling center, and because she “used to be a hippie.” Together with their team, they have figured out a system for successfully running sustainability programs in their office. They take turns emptying compost and meet regularly to address any issues brought to their attention from coworkers and to work on their Green Office Certification checklist.And the key to the TSS Green Team’s success is that the different departments in the building share the same upper management. With encouragement from President Monaco, upper management has fully endorsed sustainability initiatives, which as been instrumental in bringing about more success with colleagues in adopting changes.

This is not to say that their work has been easy; reactions to the group’s efforts started off rocky, but the TSS director stepped in and spoke up. The Green Team feels motivated when they encounter pushback, seeing office behavior change as a challenge or even a game. And they say that witnessing the change in people around them is the most rewarding part of their work. Now, they notice colleagues asking more questions and have watched people pick up new sustainable attitudes as second nature. They have hope that their colleagues will eventually work to bring these behaviors and habits home with them.


Tufts Support Services makes a pledge to go Platinum by the end of this year!

To have a successful office sustainability program, Karin and Anita recommend getting upper management on board when starting on this path. Upper management can work to reinforce the programs and initiatives which gets the ball rolling and bring integrity and respect to the projects. They also advise starting small and building up from there. But, above all else, Karin and Anita emphasize the importance of collaborating with others in the office and working as a team and support system to affect behavioral changes.

Want more resources for making sustainable changes in office spaces or encouraging colleagues to live green? Sign up to be an Eco-Ambassador to make real changes in your office and reduce your environmental impact.

Unexpectedkindness is themost powerful,least costly, andmost underratedagent of humanchange

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