by Arshiya Goel
This week the Eco-reps had Dr. Jack Barbash as a guest speaker. A research chemist for the U.S. Geological Survey, he spoke to us about his job and his views on the green movement. I was especially inspired by his dedication to living sustainably. When he visited Boston from California, he took the train (a three day journey) instead of flying! We were all impressed by the amount of patience this takes and what a big difference it makes. Airplanes are the worst gas-guzzlers and have humongous carbon footprints, while trains use only a small percentage of that energy for the same distance travelled.
It’s not easy to forgo the ease of flying for long train journeys in order to reduce your carbon footprint, but the key to sustainable living is baby steps towards those big commitments! Here are a few simple ways you can reduce your carbon footprint and live green during college!
- Recycle! Tufts recycles everything from paper, cardboard, hard plastics to aluminum foil and metals. Just look at the front of the bins on your floors.
- Use CFL or LED bulbs. They use less energy and last for decades. Take your old bulbs to the Office of Sustainability (on the back of Miller Hall) to trade them in for a CFL!
- Use cold wash when doing laundry. This is better for your clothes and uses a lot less energy. To do this in the dorm laundry machines choose “woolens” or “bright colors”.
- Plug your electronics into a power strip and remember to turn it off when you leave your room. This stops them from leaking “vampire energy”.
- Compost your food scraps! Our dorm composts can compost nearly everything (but no meat, dairy or eggs, please).
- Try to cut down on your shower time or just turn the faucet off while shampooing.
- You can recycle batteries, ink cartridges, cell phones, and even electronic chargers. Look for the white boxes in your dorms and in some other buildings on campus!
- REDUCE! Think about the packaged things you are buying and make choices that decrease the waste you produce.
For more information and tips you can ask any Eco-rep for a Green Guide. These are just small steps towards creating a sustainable lifestyle. Every decision you make can make a difference. With every step we take, we aim to collectively reduce our negative impact on the climate as a species. It’s not always easy and it’s rarely comfortable, but it is essential for our future on this planet. And maybe next time you need to travel from Boston to New York or Seattle to Portland you can consider taking a train and enjoying the beautiful scenery from ground level!
Hi everyone! The Eco-Reps program is proud to welcome four new reps for the spring 2013 semester. Vishakha Ramakrishnan is in Bush Hall. Charlotte Clarke is taking over Hill. Norihito Naka is joining Haskell Hall. You can find out more about our lovely new members here.
Spring events preview
This past week all the Reps hosted “meet and greets” in their dorm. We run these events every semester to get to know some new residents and reconnect with others. Each rep offered a unique event featuring everything from baked goods to recycling pledges to green dorm room surveys!
This semester we have some big events we’ll be working on as a group. For the first one we are teaming up with Tufts Recycles to work on Recyclemania. Recyclemania is a national competition to see which university is the best at recycling. The grade scale focuses on the percentage of recyclables thrown in the trash can. At Tufts, we will also be doing an inter-dorm competition. Be sure to look out for grades posted in your building and around campus. The Eco-Reps kicked off the event in Dewick dining hall last wednesday passing out candy and information regarding the event. You can track our national progress and learn more about the competition at http://recyclemaniacs.org/.
A team of our reps met with David McGraw at the Office for Campus Life this past week to talk about making Spring Fling more sustainable. We’ll be working more on this during the upcoming weeks.
Last but not least, Meatless Meals will be happening in Dewick dining hall Wednesdays from 6-7 pm.
The Holiday season is in full swing, and what better to make the winter a little brighter than with some do-it-yourself decorating! Earth 911 has come up with ten fun do-it-yourself decorations for Hanukkah. Check them out here and start your green decorating today!
Tufts Community Relations (TCR) has been working with University Information Technology (UIT) for several years to donate computers to community agencies and schools.
The Tufts Computer Donation Program collects, cleans up and donates Tufts-owned computers that are less than five years old to the Grafton, Boston, and Medford/Somerville communities. Older computers are recycled via Tufts’ long-standing recycling program. Before donation, all computer hard drives are wiped and their operating systems reinstalled. UIT then provides a list of available computers to TCR to identify organizations that would benefit from a donation.
Medford/Somerville faculty and staff with old computers to donate should go to Facilities’ website and ask to schedule a time for them to pick-up your old computer. If you work in Boston or Grafton, email email@example.com. For more details, visit UIT’s website.
You may have already heard the good news: paper cups are now recyclable! That’s right—the hot cups you use for tea or coffee can now be placed in paper recycling bins. All hot cups are made with a thin plastic lining that seals them and makes them waterproof, but since plastic only comprises less than 5% of the whole cup, the cup can be recycled as paper.
Some things to note:
- Rinse out your cup before putting it into the recycling bin in order to remove residue that could be harmful in the recycling process.
- Wax-lined cups are still not recyclable. In order to tell the difference between a wax and a paper-lined cup, you can simply scratch the lining of the cup with a fingernail and if anything comes off under your nail, the lining is likely wax.
Of course, while this is great news, the best way to lessen your impact with your morning coffee is to use a reusable mug. The Eco-Ambassadors at University Advancement (UA) are leading the charge.
Meaghan shows off her reusable glasses
Kim Moniz, Mini Jaikumar, and Marny Ashburne recently pioneered a UA Green Team and one of their goals is to convert their office to using only reusable mugs. The UA Green Team’s founding members have been recruiting others in Advancement to join them in thinking up ways to “make University Advancement more sustainable, raise awareness of green initiatives, and encourage people to adopt habits that will help make UA more eco-friendly.”
Their first program was a Mug Drive and Raffle. The Green Team asked office members to start the New Year by bringing in reusable cups and mugs to use at work. Every person who brought in a cup or mug could then register with a member of the Green Team and receive a sticker for their mug or glass announcing that “[Name] Thinks Green.” Then every Friday for a month, the UA Green Team pulled a name from the list of people with registered mugs to win a $25 Target gift card.
Andy's mug has something to say
At the time of the last drawing, 114 people had registered a mug or reusable cup. With 171 people in the office, about 67% of office staff participated! Some final steps in the plan included encouraging office members to bring in cups and mugs from home to donate to the office so that there would be enough reusable cups and mugs for everyone. The UA Green Team is now looking into discussing with senior management the idea of eliminating the purchase of paper cups in Advancement altogether.
The Eco-Ambassadors/UA Green Team’s success really shows how far a little initiative can go and how successful office environmental campaigns can be! However, it is important to note that although paper cups are now recyclable, they are still not the most sustainable option. It is best to still try to use reusable mugs and glasses whenever possible, but now if you cannot avoid using a paper cup, at least you can remember to recycle it.
Laurie accepting the Bridge Builder Award from President Emeritus Larry Bacow
Last June at the 2011 Tufts Distinction Awards, the Office of Sustainability was proud to note that former Eco-Ambassador Laurie Sabol (FY 2009-10) was recognized* with a Bridge Builder Award for “bringing out the best in others”. It is easy to see why: apart from being the Social Sciences reference librarian at Tisch Library, Laurie has long been a “green advocate” within and beyond the Tufts community.
During her stint as an Eco-Ambassador, she wrote a proposal to start the Tisch Sustainability Team which has since received support and recognition from library administration. The Team has started several initiatives such as office composting and becoming a TerraCycle recycling site for chip/granola bar bags and writing implements. (Proceeds from TerraCycle benefit the Eco-Reps program.)
On being an Eco-Ambassador, Laurie says she really enjoyed networking with people she otherwise would not have met. She found the session on “Social Marketing and Communicating Change” most helpful because she found that the biggest challenge is convincing people to actively participate in sustainable initiatives.
In 2000, Laurie answered a call for board members at the statewide recycling coalition Mass Recycle and became involved with the organization for six years. She served as the board’s secretary, doing a lot of “grunt work” but also looked for speakers and spoke at a conference herself two years ago about the Tisch Sustainability Team. Of her time at Mass Recycle, she humbly remarks that “I learned how much I didn’t know.”
Before joining Tufts, Laurie worked at Chicago Public Library and Bowling Green State University (Ohio) where she had also started recycling initiatives. “At Chicago Public Library, we just had a laundry cart that we filled with newspapers and I found a local recycling organization who would take them.” There was no formal organization or recognition, as was the case in Bowling Green where the library staff began recycling cans and hauling the lot themselves to a recycling facility nearby. “It was fun and very low maintenance,” Laurie recalls. “We’d bring the cans over every Friday and go out for a beer.”
Not surprisingly, Laurie remains an active member of MassRecycle and the recycling program at her current hometown of Ayer, MA. She’s got plenty of other things going on, so drop by the library sometime and ask her about being a weekend puppy mom for NEADS and what she was doing in Xi’an, China in 1992…
*Another Eco-Ambassador, Chantal Hardy (FY 2010-11) of the English Department was also recognized for exceptional customer service with The Extra Mile Award.