Tufts Gets Green

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Tag: recycle (page 2 of 2)

The good news on reusable mugs and paper cups

"Recycle meeeeee!"

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.

Eco-Ambassador Laurie Sabol: a green champion within and beyond Tufts

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.

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