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Get outside! A brief overview of local greenspaces

Written by Colette Smith

After a few months of social distancing at home, many are yearning to soak in the summer weather and explore the outdoors. One great way to get outside is to visit some of your local greenspaces. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, greenspace includes “any open piece of land that is undeveloped (has no buildings or other built structures) and is accessible to the public… [and] is partially or completely covered with grass, trees, shrubs, or other vegetation.” Specific examples of greenspaces include areas such as public parks, community gardens, walking, biking, or hiking trails, and even cemeteries. Greenspaces have a range of benefits, from individual and community health benefits to environmental sustainability. Below, we break down some great greenspace options near Tufts, the benefits of greenspace, and some tips for staying safe outdoors. 

 Although Boston ranks low among large cities for greenspace density, with only 168 feet per resident, there are still plenty of options to get outside and absorb the summer air for those of you still around Tufts. The Tufts campus itself has a lot of greenspaces, such as the President’s Lawn or the academic quad, where you can lay out in the sun and enjoy the warm weather. One of my favorite things to do in the nice weather is grab lunch from Hodge and sit out on the President’s Lawn with my friends. 

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7e/Tufts_University_-_Garden%2C_presidents_lawn.jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tufts_University_-_Garden,_presidents_lawn.jpg

Another greenspace that is only 2 miles from campus is Middlesex Fells. Professor Ninian Stein took my Introduction to Environmental Studies class here for a field trip last semester. I was astonished at how close it was to the somewhat urban environment near Tufts. It offers a wide variety of activities like hiking, renting a boat, riding a bike on one of the bike trails, or visiting the dog park. 

https://rootsrated.com/boston-ma/hiking/middlesex-fells-reservation-hiking

Another local option is Nathan Tufts Park, located just across from Tufts at Powderhouse circle. This park features the seventeenth-century Old Powder House, which was built as a windmill but has served many purposes throughout the years. Today, you can walk-through, picnic, or be active on this historical greenspace. 

https://do617.com/venues/nathan-tufts-park-in-powderhouse-square

If you would like to get off campus to explore the greater Boston area instead, there are some really great places you can go. One gorgeous option is the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The Greenway features a 1.5 mile long path through central downtown and the waterfront. Walking along you will see outdoor artworks and performances.

https://www.bostoncentral.com/fun-things-to-do-rose-kennedy-greenway

Another iconic Boston greenspace is the Boston Common. This area of land used to be a cow pasture, but it has been an important place for the city throughout the years serving as a site for a wide variety of occasions. Founded in 1634, the Boston Common is a great place to go for a stroll or to sit and have a picnic.

The next option, located at 695 Hillside St. in Milton, the Blue Hills Reservation is a great place to go for a hike since it has great options for all hiking experience levels. It includes 125 miles of stunning, scenic trails that will take you through a variety of landscapes from marshes to meadows. There are many different route options so make sure to pick up a map!

https://tclf.org/blue-hills-reservation

In addition to their aesthetic appeal, greenspaces have been reported to improve both mental health/well-being as well as physical health, since they provide opportunities for urban dwellers to get active. From an environmental perspective, the benefits of greenspaces include air quality improvements, natural ecosystems, reduction of noise, and better storm drainage. A final advantage of having greenspaces is that they have been shown to foster increased social interaction as people visit these sites and get to meet other people in their community face to face. 

Finally: don’t forget to stay vigilant! Greenspaces are a great opportunity to get outdoors amidst the COVID quarantine and are relatively safe thanks to the open air. Still, you must social distance, wear a mask, and wash your hands frequently. Also, don’t forget sunscreen and bug repellant!

Fall in Love with Sustainability this Valentine’s Day

As February 14th approaches, love is in the air and, for many of us, in our shopping carts. Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to show some appreciation for our loved ones, but with all the gifts, cards, and flowers, the amount of waste left behind can come at a steep cost for the planet. Share your love for the Earth this Valentine’s Day with these sustainability tips from the Tufts Office of Sustainability:

  • While a store-bought gift might be traditional, skip the landfill and try opting for an experience or homemade gift instead:
    • Plan a romantic picnic or bike ride at Mystic Lake or the Middlesex Fells if you’re on the Medford/Somerville Campus. Check out the Ecomap for bike rentals and repairs locations.
    • Give your loved one the gift of sustainably farmed fresh produce by registering them for the coming season of Tufts CSA.
  • Check out the Craft Center on the Medford/Somerville campus for all your homemade card and gift needs.
  • Make sure you are familiar with waste disposal at Tufts, especially where your nearest specialty recycling and compost sites are located. This information can also be found on the Ecomap
  • Minimizing Waste on Valentine’s day:

  • DO Recycle:
    • Aluminum cans
    • Cardboard boxes from gifts or flowers
    • Card envelopes
    • Plastic floral wraps only at participating stores (most likely grocery or hardware store)
    • Cardboard chocolate and gift boxes
    • Plain paper greeting cards (without metal, plastic, musical elements, glitter, or foil add-ons)
  • DON’T Recycle:
    • Any greeting cards with other elements than plain paper
    • Candy wrappers
    • Ribbons and bows
  • COMPOST:
    • Flowers and bouquets 

(list taken from The Recycling Partnership)

Get creative and make this red and white holiday green your way!


2018 Spotlight Award from MassRIDES

At the recent president’s picnic, Carlos Robles from MassRIDES presented our own Shoshana Blank with our 2018 Spotlight Award.  MassRIDES is a program of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) that works to reduce traffic condition and improve air quality in the state through partnerships with employers, colleges, and universities.

The Spotlight Award is given to companies and organizations that offer and incentivize sustainable commuting options. Tufts University was given an honorable mention for our various efforts to promote public transportation, biking, and other sustainable forms of transportation.

Many employees, staff, and students commute to Tufts Medford, Boston, SMFA and Grafton campuses on a daily basis. Sustainable transportation helps reduce traffic congestion, improves air quality, and supports strong local and regional economies.

Not only is biking and taking public transportation a more sustainable way to commute, it can also be a much more peaceful and rewarding endeavor! A driven commute during rush hours in Boston be incredibly stressful, so why not take public transportation instead? Instead of being stuck in stop-and-go traffic, you could be on a bus reading a book, or on a bike releasing some stress-relieving endorphins.

So how do we promote and facilitate public transportation here at Tufts?

Getting the word out:

All new staff hired at Tufts go through an orientation to encourage sustainable commuting. There, they are provided with information on programs like Bay State Commute and MassRIDE’s Emergency Ride Home which offer reimbursements and incentives for taking public transportation, carpooling, and biking. The Office of Sustainability also hands out commuting brochures to new students at all graduate student orientations and at a number of undergraduate orientation events.

Tufts Initiatives to Promote Sustainable Commuting:

  • This year Tufts started offering all of its employees a 35% discount on their MBTA passes .
  • Tufts Bikes, a student-run bikeshare, has 30 bicycles available for rent to encourage biking. Bikes and helmets are checked out just like library books, and can be kept for up to 8 hours.
  • We have 11 Zipcars on campus and the annual membership is discounted for students, staff, and faculty.
  • Shuttles connect the Medford/Somerville campus to the Davis Square train station, as well as to our SMFA campus in the Fenway. Live tracking of our shuttles is available on the Tufts Mobile app.
  • Students at the SMFA campus can receive Lyft credits for a Safe Ride between campus buildings.

Resources for Sustainable Commuting:

  • Our Sustainable Commuting brochures for the BostonGrafton, and SMFA campuses highlight many of the commuter benefit programs available to Tufts employees as well as information on MBTA discounts offered through Tufts, carshare and ride matching programs, and several public transportation options and routes.
  • Our Bike Guide publication and website illustrate where cyclists can lock up, get their bikes fixed at the FixIt station, and shower on campus.
  • The Tufts Eco-Map is available online, in print, as well as on the Tufts Mobile app and Google Maps. It shows features such as EV charging stations, Zipcars, Hubway bikes, Tufts Bikes bikeshare, MBTA bus stops, and Tufts shuttle stops.

 

Zero Waste President’s Lunch at the SMFA

staff posing with sandwich bagsFriday was a busy day at the SMFA, with the last day of review boards, the annual Sidewalk Sale, and the President’s lunch. Every year, the Tufts community celebrates the end of a busy school year at each campus. Tufts Catering provided a delicious picnic lunch, including berries, pound cake, and chocolate sauce for dessert. Darin Weiss with place settingAnthony Monaco joined staff and students for the zero-waste event, where only recyclable and compostable plates, napkins, utensils, and cups are offered to keep material out of the landfill. Although recycling and composting eliminate waste, reusable options are even better! student with place settingAt this first ever President’s lunch held at SMFA, fifteen people brought their own place settings. Those who arrived with plate, cup, and utensils in hand won a Tufts Sustainability sandwich bag and a chance to win a lunch box. Sporks, Tupperwares, and cloth napkins are convenient to bring to work and school and using them is an easy way to reduce waste. staff with place settingWe hope to see everyone at next year’s picnic!

 

Check out our Facebook album for more photos of the event:

https://www.facebook.com/pg/greentufts/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1851786801507218 

Reusable Plates of Boston 2017

On Tuesday, June 6th, President Monaco hosted the second of three President’s Picnic at the Boston Campus. These annual zero-waste events bring together the Tufts community to celebrate another year of hard work. The zero waste initiative at each of these picnics encourages attendees to BYOP — Bring Your Own Place-setting — which reduces waste created from disposable dishes, cutlery, and cups.

Condiments and drinks were served in bulk, rather than individual packets, to further reduce packaging waste.

Recycling interns helped sort recycling and compost at special Zero Waste Stations.

Attendees who brought their own dishes could also win special, sustainable prizes! This year, the first fifty won a reusable paper towel.

Attendees did a fantastic job helping us keep this event zero-waste. We hope everyone enjoyed the great food and company and will continue these sustainable practices into the future!

Click for recaps from the Medford President’s Picnic and the Grafton Presidents Picnic.

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