Tag: sustainability (page 1 of 15)

4 Ways To Eliminate Plastic From Your Life

 

According to a National Geographic article, 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic has been created since manufacturing of the material began six decades ago. The article also estimates that 91% of all plastic consumed around the world is not recycled.

As you may have seen on social media,  many people have attempted to avoid using plastic products completely for the month of July, as a part of Plastic-Free July. Although July is coming to an end, that does not mean that we should abandon the effort to reduce our plastic consumption.

Here are just a few small changes you can make to reduce your consumption of plastic on a daily basis:

Ditch Bottled Beverages and Disposable Cups:

According to a 2017 article, “a million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute.”  That comes down to around 20,000 plastic bottles every second! Not only is using a reusable mug or water bottle a great way to reduce plastic consumption, it may also save you some money. Many coffee shops and other stores offer discounts to those who bring their own bottles and mugs.

Bring Your Own Bag

As with reusable mugs and bottles, bringing your own reusable bag to grocery stores often gets you a discount. To take a step further, you can also purchase reusable mesh bags for produce instead of using the plastic bags available in the produce section of grocery stores.

Buy In Bulk

Buying in bulk is not always feasible if you do not have many mouths to feed in your home. As an alternative, many grocery stores have bulk sections where you can purchase items like grains, nuts, spices and dried fruits from bulk bins in the exact quantities that you need. Bringing your own container and measuring out the exact amount of an item you need is a great way to eliminate both packaging waste and food waste – because are you really going to use up that large container of cardamom you bought to make curry that one time?

Use Reusable Utensils

Whenever possible, try bringing your own utensils and plates to events and meetings where food may be served. For packed lunches, you could invest in a reusable sandwich or snack bag to replace single-use plastic bags. You could even try out beeswax wrap, an alternative to plastic wrap!

2018 Green Office Certification And Eco-Ambassador Ceremony And Reception

Photo: Nicholas Pfosi for Tufts University

On Thursday, July 12th, the Office of Sustainability held a ceremony and reception for new Eco-Ambassadors and Green Offices. Sustainability-minded employees from all four of Tufts’ campuses convened to be recognized by Tufts President Anthony P. Monaco in the Coolidge Room of Ballou Hall.

Throughout the historic room, attendees could view posters with information about the Green Office and Eco-Ambassador programs as well as information about Tufts’ greenhouse gas emissions.

Offices were also able pledge to reach a higher level of Green Office certification in the future and write down any ideas they had about ways Tufts could be more sustainable. Some submitted ideas included reducing the use of plastic water bottles and the frequency of leaf blowing around campus.

Attendees mingled, exchanged ideas about sustainability, and enjoyed a delicious spread courtesy of Tufts Catering.

Shoshana Blank making her opening remarks (Photo: Nicholas Pfosi for Tufts University)

Shoshana Blank, the Office of Sustainability’s Education and Outreach Program Administrator,  then gave the opening remarks. Outlining the history and descriptions of the Green Office and Eco-Ambassador programs, she emphasized the important role the employees being recognized at this ceremony play in furthering sustainability efforts and creating a culture of sustainability at Tufts.

President Monaco recognizing sustainable initiatives at Tufts (Photo: Nicholas Pfosi for Tufts University)

She then introduced President Monaco, who began by highlighting in detail many of the operational and institutional changes being made to make Tufts’ campuses more sustainable, such as the newly LEED Gold certified SEC and the Central Energy Plant that will help reduce Tufts’ emissions.

President Monaco went on to emphasize that the grassroots efforts on the part of the Eco-Ambassadors and Green Offices are equally important in developing a culture of sustainability and engaging sustainable behaviors in students and other employees. The synthesis of efforts from both the administration and grassroots levels helps further sustainability goals at the university.

 

President Monaco awarding a Green Office certificate to the Fletcher Office of Admissions Photo: Nicholas Pfosi for Tufts University

President Monaco presented all of the offices that were certified or re-certified as Green Offices this year with their respective certificates depending on the level they attained. This year’s new Eco-Ambassadors were also called up to be recognized and for a group photo.

New Eco-Ambassadors group picture! (Photo: Nicholas Pfosi for Tufts University)

As a part of the ceremony, two Eco-Ambassadors were called up to share their stories about how they have helped make their offices more sustainable. Misha D’Andrea, from the SMFA’s Office of Admissions, explained how she learned about sustainability efforts at Tufts during her new employee orientation. Excited, she immediately started working with her fellow staff member Brianna Florio to get their office Green Office Certified – a first for the SMFA campus. Misha and Brianna also became the SMFA’s first Eco-Ambassadors.

Misha D’Andrea speaking about sustainability efforts at the SMFA (Photo: Nicholas Pfosi for Tufts University)

Together, they helped make their office more sustainable by promoting compost, green commuting, using recycled paper, and other small sustainable changes staff members could easily make. In addition, they helped make Jumbo Day, the SMFA’s accepted students day, a zero-waste event by purchasing compostable plates, cups and utensils through an Eco-Ambassador grant. They also joined the SMFA Sustainability Task Force, spearheaded by a SMFA faculty member, that is made up of faculty, staff and students who want to make the campus more sustainable.

Freedom Baird from the Medford/Somerville campus Educational Technology Services recalled feeling pleasantly surprised that sustainability was a part of her new employee orientation. For her, this represented the university’s recognition of sustainability as an important issue and part of the campus culture. Excited, she immediately reached out to Shoshana and joined in on the Eco-Ambassador training.

Photo: Nicholas Pfosi for Tufts University

Thinking of ways she could help her office become more sustainable, Freedom noticed that her building purchased large 5 gallon bottles of water that had to be replaced frequently. She began putting together a survey to see if people in her building would be willing to switch to a water filtration system instead, which would greatly reduce plastic waste.

In crafting the survey, she used many of the tips from her Eco-Ambassador training. Freedom demonstrated to everyone at the ceremony how difficult it was to replace the large containers of water every time a new one was delivered through a dramatic performance. She noted that not having to do this anymore was a big sell for purchasing a water filtration system instead.

The event was a great way to celebrate individual employees and offices working to make Tufts a more sustainable place. Learn more about the Green Office Certification program and the Eco-Ambassadors program on our website.

Tufts Community Resilience Building Workshop

In 2016, Tufts University’s President Anthony Monaco signed the Second Nature Climate Commitment on behalf of the university. The Commitment integrates two critical components of climate leadership: carbon neutrality and climate resilience. One stipulation of the Commitment is for the university to complete a campus-community resilience assessment.

While climate change mitigation strategies aimed to reduce carbon emissions are often emphasized, it is equally important to consider how communities can plan for the predicted impacts of climate change.  In addition, due to recent events such as Tropical Storm Irene and Sandy, there is a heightened sense of urgency within our local and regional communities to increase resilience and adapt to extreme weather events.

In order to advance the Climate Commitment goals and address concerns that the Tufts community has regarding natural and climate-related hazards, Tufts University hosted a Community Resilience Building Workshop for the Medford/Somerville campus. The workshop took place on May 3rd, and was facilitated by The Nature Conservancy.

Picture from the resilience building workshop, attendees listening to speaker

Source: Adam Whelchel/TNC

Community Resilience Building workshops help municipalities and institutions create an opportunity for their community to to gather and plan proactively for potential emergencies. This is an important step towards climate adaptation and community capacity-building to deal with a changing climate.

The Tufts University Core Team that helped prepare for and organize this workshop included Tina Woolston from the Office of Sustainability, Geoff Bartlett and Matt Hart from the Department of Public and Environmental Safety Emergency Management Unit, as well as two Tufts students, Emma Conroy and Sophie Lehrenbaum.

Around 60 Tufts and surrounding community members attended the workshop, including representatives from various Tufts groups such as Facilities, Finance, Health Services, Construction, Public and Environmental Health and Safety, as well as undergraduate and graduate students. In addition, representatives from the City of Medford’s Office of Energy and Environment and Office of Public Health, the City of Somerville’s Office of Sustainability and Environment, and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency were also present.

The full day event started with an overview of climate change impacts in the Northeast, the top 4 potential climate related hazards as identified during a recent Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment undertaken by the Department of Public and Environmental Health and Safety, and an introduction to the resources that would be discussed during the next portion of the event. These resources included maps of the campus, the existing hazard mitigation plan, information on the number of days over 90 degrees and flooding, as well as maps depicting natural disasters that have affected the area.

Source: Adam Whelchel/TNC

Attendees were then broken up into five groups, and through a facilitated process, discussed the existing vulnerabilities and strengths of the campus, and prioritized concrete actions that could be taken. As a part of this process, each group illustrated where they thought vulnerable areas and potential hazards were located on top of a base map of the university.

One group’s illustration of hazards on the Medford/Somerville campus (Source: Adam Whelchel/TNC)

While all groups recognized that Tufts, along with its host cities, already has many strengths and assets that will help in emergency situations, many recommendations were made on how Tufts could better prepare for such events through longer term, comprehensive planning.

Some of the top priorities for action by the Medford/Somerville campus community that came out of the workshop were:

  1. Human Welfare – supporting students and employees during an emergency
  2. Infrastructure – utilities, stormwater, and continuity planning and upgrades
  3. Food – food supply, distribution, and storage during an emergency

Community-based actions towards adapting to the predicted impacts of climate change can lead to planning and preparation that meets the specific needs of the community and the local landscape. In addition, it helps empower community members to take charge and prepare for some of the climate-related challenges we currently face as a society that may not be within our individual control to avoid.

Adam Whelchel, the lead facilitator of the workshop, commented, “the Nature Conservancy is proud to have played a part in helping Tufts University take a significant step towards enhanced resilience via the Community Resilience Building process. Tufts now joins an elite group of universities around the globe that have proactively embraced resilience as an opportunity to find a more vibrant future for their faculty, staff, students, and the surrounding community.”

Similar Community Resilience Building Workshops will be coming to the Boston and Grafton campuses soon, stay tuned!

 

Announcing: Spring 2018 Green Fund Recipients

The Green Fund is a new program at Tufts that provides funding for the implementation of sustainability-related projects proposed by the Tufts community. Managed by a committee made up of students, faculty, and staff from all four Tufts campuses, the Green Fund will help realize innovative and inspired projects that strive to make the campus a more sustainable place.

The funds for the Green Fund come from the Sustainable Investment Fund‘s endowment payout which refreshes every year. This means that even projects that are not designed to have financial payback to the school are eligible. For this soft launch of the program, a total of $10,000 was available for funding.

Without further ado, here are this year’s three winning proposals that will be funded by the Green Fund:

Hodgdon Solar Charging Stations – $6500

The Tufts Energy Group (TEG), a student-led group that focuses on engaging and educating the Tufts community about energy issues, has been working for the past two years on making solar power more accessible to Tufts students and faculty.

TEG secured a $10,000  grant from SunBug, a local solar energy company that has already installed solar panels at the Somerville/Medford campus on top of Dowling Hall, to help realize a solar panel installment that will be more visible and accessible to the Tufts community. However, more funding is necessary to cover additional necessary construction and consulting costs, as well as the publication of educational materials and signage.

The new solar panels will be visible on the south side wall of Hodgdon Hall, and the energy produced will be available for use by students to charge their electronic devices on the patio and in the common room during the months that the patio is not in use.

With this project, TEG hopes to increase renewable energy usage and awareness on the Somerville/Medford campus and promote energy education and learning for students.

Construction is tentatively set for early this summer. For more information on this project, email ryan.biette@tufts.edu.

Dental School Water Bottle Filling Station – $3000

Water bottle filling stations similar to this one will be installed on several floors of the Tufts Dental building

The Tufts University School of Dental Medicine has several ongoing “green” goals, one of which is to greatly reduce and eventually eliminate the use of plastic water bottles at all events and meetings held on their campus.

The school had stopped providing water bottles at senior administrative, departmental, and committee meetings, and guests have been asked to bring in their own reusable water bottles. Pitchers of water were made available during these meetings for attendees to refill their bottles.

In order to further increase the usage of reusable water bottles, Mary-Ellen Marks, Jini McClelland, and Talita Turnier from the Dental School’s administration proposed to retrofit existing water fountains in the school with Rapid Water Bottle Filling Stations.

While one of these Filling Stations is already located on the 7th floor of the dental building, the additional funding will allow the school to install one more Filling Station on a different floor of the building.

Composting on the Health Sciences Campus – $500

Michelle Lee-Bravatti of the Friedman School sorting through compost (Source: Erin Child)

Michelle Lee Bravatti, a second-year Nutrition Epidemiology and MPH student at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, set out earlier this year to bring composting to Tufts’ Boston Health Sciences Campus.

In coordination with the Office of Sustainability, the Tufts Boston Campus Facility Services,  and the Friedman Student Council, Michelle helped launch a pilot composting program at the Boston Campus.  Previously, composting was not available in any of the Boston Campus buildings.

Through this effort, four composting bins were established throughout the campus in three different locations. In order to help expand the program to more locations and to ensure that the program will continue, Michelle applied for funding through the Green Fund.

These additional funds will help recruit and compensate a student program manager and two student volunteer workers to monitor and empty compost bins as well as spread awareness about the program, purchase biodegradable liners for the compost bins, and place additional bins in the Friedman and Sackler School buildings.

Future opportunities:

For the next round of proposals this year, a total of $30,000 will be available to fund 1 or more projects. Moving forward, the program will be able to fund any number of projects with budgets adding up to $40,000. Proposal deadlines for future rounds will be posted as soon as they are determined.

Through Brighter World, the university-wide funding campaign, it is now also possible for members of the Tufts community to make a gift that goes directly to the Green Fund. Find out more on the campaign website.

2018 Eco-Ambassador Grant Winners

Through participation in either two condensed half-day or monthly 2-hour educational sessions, Tufts’ faculty and staff Eco-Ambassadors are eligible to apply for a $100 grant to help realize a project that will further sustainability efforts on campus.

This year, there were 3 grant recipients: Chris Bishal from the Office of Student Affairs at Tufts School of Medicine, Misha D’Andrea and Brianna Florio from the Office of Admissions at SMFA, and Dan Birdsall from the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at the Fletcher School.

Read on to find out what the grants were used for this year!

Reusable Place Settings at the Tufts School of Medicine

Chris Bishal from the Tufts School of Medicine at the Boston campus proposed to purchase reusable small plates, bowls, cups, and silverware for the Office of Student Affairs conference room. These are now used for meetings and gatherings as well as for every day use by staff.

Previously in this space, light snacks, pastries, and coffee provided for various staff, Dean, and committee meetings as well as meetings between faculty advisors and student advisees were served on paper plates and consumed with plastic utensils. The new dishes purchased with the grant greatly reduce the amount of waste produced by these meetings.

A Greener Accepted Students Day at the SMFA

Admissions Assistant Misha d’Andrea and  Admissions Counselor Brianna Florio from the SMFA Office of Admissions are the first to receive Eco-Ambassador training at the SMFA campus. On April 20th, the SMFA hosted accepted students at their annual Jumbo Day, and they felt that this would be the “perfect opportunity to spread sustainable practices as well as have an eco-friendly lunch enjoyed by all.”

In order to make this year’s Jumbo day “as green as possible”, Misha and Brianna used the grant to purchase compostable plates, cups, utensils, and stirring sticks. As these items are more costly than paper and plastic items, it would have been difficult to budget for them without the grant.  By having attendees compost all their food waste in addition to their place settings, they were able to make the event zero-waste.

SMFA Eco Rep Maria tabling at Jumbo Day and getting future Jumbos excited about sustainability!

Not only did Misha and Brianna help minimize the waste produced by this year’s SMFA Jumbo Day, they were also able to get the future generation of Tufts students “excited about sustainability and composting at this campus” in coordination with Maria, the SMFA’s student Eco-Rep who tabled at the event.

New Compost Bin in the Fletcher School’s Hall of Flags

Molly and Dan with the new compost bin in the Hall of Flags at Fletcher.

Dan Birdsall, the associate director of the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at the Fletcher School, along with Molly Haragan, a 2nd year Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy candidate, proposed to purchase a new compost bin for the Hall of Flags. The Hall of Flags is the Fletcher School’s highest-traffic area and main gathering location for students, staff, and faculty.

While there was already a compost bin at Fletcher in the Mugar Café, Molly noticed that a significant amount of food is also consumed in the Hall of Flags, where frequent receptions and admissions events occur. Additionally, food leftover from student-organized events are often placed in the Hall of Flags, and many students also eat in this space as well as in the rest of the building.

Previously, much of the food waste from the Hall of Flags often ended up in the garbage can rather than being transported to the compost bin at the Mugar Café. As a result, an additional compost bin at this location has significantly helped reduce food waste that will go directly to landfills. “Composting is now the obvious and easy option there,” Dan explains. Molly has just graduated and identified a few returning students interested in sustainability that will help monitor and empty the bins next school year.

 

 

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