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New “How to Recycle” Video!

Due to the level of contamination of U.S. recycled materials, there have been recent changes to global recycling systems. You can read more about these changes on our previous blog post.

We know that keeping up with current recycling guidelines can feel like a full time job, but the Office of Sustainability at Tufts is here to help you! We have the low-down on what to do with pizza boxes, soiled plates, and even your sneakers. Watch our new video below to learn more:


Journal Article Review: Indigenous Artists Against the Anthropocene

Jessica L. Horton’s “Indigenous Artists Against the Anthropocene” highlights the history of the American Indian Movement (AIM) in relation to the Ecological Movement, then brings attention to present day Indigenous Artists who have persisted through white supremacist and capitalists structures that threaten both the environment and Indigenous communities.

While AIM’s conceptualization of humans living “with the land and not simply on it,” points to a valuable approach to sustainability that recognizes humans’ participation in a larger ecosystem, it is important to avoid stereotyping Indigenous Americans according to the “ecological Indian” trope. Horton writes, “Substituting the ecological Indian for the work of Native thinkers and makers reinforces images of American Indian people as localized reactionaries under perpetual threat from large-scale ruptures such as colonization and climate change, rather than as purveyors of imaginative forms of global collectivity and connectivity.”

Indigenous American oppression is often cast as an object of the past, but like global warming, their struggle is ongoing, part of the past, present, and future. As we fight against climate change, keep in mind the colonial history of resource extraction and exploitation. The same Enlightenment ideals that inspired the industrial revolution, warming our planet, also led to brutal conquest of Indigenous people.

You can read Horton’s full article here: Indigenous Artists against the Anthropocene

Other resources:

From PBS, Native American Communities Affected by Climate Change Plan for the Future

Climate Change’s Impacts on People

Denmark: Where the skies are blue and sustainability is nothing new

I spent my last semester in the beautiful city of Copenhagen, Denmark. I was very excited for the pastries, beautiful scenery and trying the Nordic cuisine. Little did I know how much their sustainability values would amaze me! Through the cold winter, gloomy days, and dark nights – the Danes continued to implement sustainable initiatives. Denmark’s goal is to produce enough renewable energy to cover its total energy consumption by 2050. Impressive!

Denmark prides itself on honing the best companies and creators of technology in the world. As part of my core course, we visited various types of companies in Denmark to understand business strategies in different industries. After visiting some of the larger companies and examining their corporate cultures, it was evident that sustainability was a big part of their business models. A lot of their energy sources depended on wind and solar power.

This value system holds true among the population as well. From toddlers on tricycles to businessmen in suits and old retired couples buying groceries, Denmark is a haven for cyclists. With over 390 kilometers of designated bike lanes, it was no surprise that Copenhagen is officially the first Bike City in the world. Last year it was voted as the “Best city for cyclists” and the “World’s Most Livable City.” The air is fresh, there’s light traffic on the roads, and the population is healthy and happy!

I was fascinated by how committed Copenhagen is to their sustainability goals. To achieve their emissions reduction goal, the country aims to reach a 40% reduction by 2030, and is expected to achieve that rate in certain sectors by 2020. Because of their commitment, Copenhagen has been chosen as the host of the C40 Mayors Summit where delegates from nearly 100 cities around the world will meet to discuss strategies to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and limit CO2 emissions.

My personal experience and further research has reinforced my belief that as a community at Tufts we can come together to make our space a cleaner, greener, and healthier one. The biking culture is such a great way to stay healthy and environmentally friendly. An emphasis on using public transport (which is so efficient in Denmark, too!) is another way to stay on track.

I highly recommend studying abroad in Copenhagen. It is a great way to experience a new culture of tremendous environmental commitment first hand!

New Recycling Rules For Cleaner Recyclables

Please follow the recycling rules

Recently, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) released new recycling guidelines, with some major changes as is outlined below. Read more about the new rules here:

Recyclables that are contaminated with non-recyclables may end up in the landfill due to excess contamination. Due to recent changes in the recycling industry as outlined in our other blog post, it is especially important that we work to limit contamination of recyclable materials.

Recycled materials are a  traded commodity. If contaminated, however, no one will be willing to purchase them, and they will instead likely end up in the landfill.

Plastic and paper cups are no longer accepted

The biggest change is that plastic cups (even clear ones), as well as utensils and paper coffee cups, are no longer recyclable. That’s right – the plastic and cups you get your cold beverages in will now have to go directly into the landfill waste bin in addition to the straw and lid.

The main problem is that these items tend to be spoiled with liquids and food. These items can then contaminate other materials in the recycling bin, such as paper. As a result, our recycling service provider is no longer accepting these products in our recycling stream.

For plastic items, ONLY plastic containers – jugs, bottles (with caps ON), tubs, and jars will be accepted, once rinsed and dried.

Empty, Clean, and Dry

Items that can be recycled such as hard plastic containers, yogurt cups and plastic bottles and jugs (with the caps on) as well as glass bottles MUST be emptied, cleaned, and dried before being placed in a recycling bin. Please do not put any items with food, food residue, or liquid still in them in the recycling bins.

Plastic Bags are NOT recyclable

Any kind of plastic film or plastic bags can not be placed in the recycling bins. This includes grocery bags, bubble wrap, flexible plastic packaging, saran wrap, zip lock bags, and styrofoam. These items get caught in the machinery used in sorting facilities and can cause breakdowns and even worker injuries.

Other items that are NOT accepted as recycling

These items go to the landfill. Do NOT place these items in the recycling bins.

Paper items

  • paper towels
  • paper plates
  • tissues
  • cups (with lids)


  • greasy pizza box bottoms
  • juice and milk cartons

Plastic (even with recycling symbol)

  • plastic cups
  • plastic bags and plastic wrap
  • chip bags
  • styrofoam
  • plastic utensils
  • foil-lined energy bars – brings these to a terracycle bin (locations on our Eco-Map) instead!


  • lightbulbs – bring incandescent and CFL light bulbs to 550 Boston Ave. to have them replaced for LED light bulbs!
  • broken glass

When in doubt, throw it out

It may seem counterintuitive to throw something out in order to support sustainability. However, it is much better to throw something out if you are unsure it can be recycled rather than contaminate the recycling with materials that can not be recycled. Please refer to the infographic below, but when in doubt, throw it out.

In addition, do not rely on the triangular recycling symbol found on many products. This symbol signifies that the material used in the product are physically able be recycled, but that does not meant that the waste infrastructure in your specific community  has the capacity to recycle them.

For example, the sorting facility where recyclables from Tufts end up can not accept plastic bags, as they can damage the sorting equipment. However, companies like Trex take plastic bags and have a separate, special sorting facility where they can turn those bags into recycled outdoor decking materials and products.

Sustainable Eating At Tufts

August is Massachusetts Eat Local Month! There will be a number of events held throughout the state with partnering locations featuring local food.  On August 7th, there will also be a film screening of Forgotten Farms, a film about the New England dairy industry and regional food systems.

This month is a great opportunity to think about our local food system, and to find more ways to eat locally in your everyday life.

Eating local is a great way to help support the local economy and become more in tune with the seasons, the local region, and the particular ecosystems within which we live. In addition, eating locally helps you reduce the carbon footprint of your meal.

Ways to eat local

Farmers Markets

The Greater Boston area has a plethora of farmers markets during the region’s growing season, which spans from late May to November.

Find a farmers market near you by using this interactive map.

Join a CSA

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares are a great way to eat seasonally and try fruits and veggies that you might not see in a grocery store. Through a CSA, consumers can purchase their produce directly from farmers through a season-long share. Every week, members receive a box of sustainably-grown, seasonal produce.

Because CSA members purchase their share ahead of time, farmers are supported financially to purchase the supplies they need to grow crops.

New Entry Food Hub CSA, has a CSA pickup location on the Medford/Somerville campus, at the Latino Center. Pickup occurs every Tuesday.  New Entry, an initiative of Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, helps beginning, immigrant, and refugee farmers gain business and farm production skills and access to land, markets and other resources necessary to start a viable farm business.

Sign up for a fall share here.

Buy local at your grocery store

You can find local produce at many grocery stores. Next time you’re at your neighborhood grocery store, look out for the “local” label, and see if you can find produce from the surrounding region.

Sustainable Eating

Pair eating local food with some of our other tips below to be a sustainability superstar! (Click on the image to view the PDF with active links!)

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