Today is America Recycles Day!
To celebrate, Facilities Services and the Office of Sustainability are excited to announce the introduction of single stream recycling at Tufts starting in the spring 2017 semester!
Tufts currently uses a dual stream system, which requires separating glass, metal and plastic containers from paper and cardboard items. Starting in January 2017 all these items will now be collected as a “single stream” of material in one bin.
What is Single Stream?
“Single stream” means that all the items you normally sort into the blue and green-capped recycling bins can be disposed of together! Recycling materials collected will remain the same but will not need to be separated.
After the winter recess, Tufts students, faculty, and staff can begin placing all these recyclables in a single recycling bin.
Why is Tufts Moving to Single Stream?
- It’s easier for you!
Introducing the ability to put all recycling in one bin will make recycling simple and easy, providing the campus community with two primary options for disposing of waste: “All Recycling” or “Landfill” (along with composting for food waste in some locations).
- Our waste stream is changing
The switch to single stream is a direct reaction to the changing needs of the recycling industry: with increased demand for more efficient packaging and changes in personal habits, the makeup of the nation’s waste stream is changing. At one time, paper made up to 70 percent of the weight flowing through recycling programs, but now it accounts for less than 40 percent in many cities. More complex, lightweight materials have begun to replace paper; Tufts single stream recycling program will accommodate the disposal of these changing materials more efficiently.
- Single stream will support Tufts waste reduction goals
Transitioning to single stream recycling supports Tufts’ larger plan to improve solid waste and recycling efforts in line with the President’s Campus Sustainability Council’s goal of reducing total waste by 3% per year. Every Tufts community member is asked and expected to help the university meet its waste goals by educating themselves about their campus’s move to single stream recycling. Read more about the President’s Sustainability Council goals to reduce waste here.
In April, the Grafton campus celebrated Zero Waste Week for the first time ever, joining Medford in challenging the Tufts community to recognize one’s personal footprint and reduce it.
About 30 people signed up for the challenge, which involves carrying any waste which cannot be recycled, composted, or avoided in a plastic bag clipped to one’s backpack or handbag for a full week. Participants included students from all years, interns and residents at the hospitals, and faculty. 15 participants made it to the end of the challenge, delivered their bags to the Earth Day event, and received their prize.
Some of the bags collected on Earth Day
All participants were entered into a raffle for an earth-friendly gift, which was ultimately won by Whitney Stiehler from Wildlife.
Whitney Stiehler won these hip reusable lunch containers, which make eating on the go, at your desk, or at Zero Waste events easier than ever.
After the challenge, participants reported that the exercise led them to think more about what products they were using and how everything could be disposed; they also praised the accessibility of recycling and composting on the campus for making the challenge more doable.
The Grafton campus also celebrated Earth Day with its annual tree planting next to the Agnes Varis Campus Center.
Trees are planted in honor of Earth Day.
Tufts students on the Medford campus have been composting in their dorms for several years through the Eco-Reps program. But until last year, unstaffed dorms – that is, dorms without Residential Assistants (RAs) and Eco-Reps – were left to organize the disposal of their organic waste on their own.
The Recycling and Waste Management office run by Facilities Services office set out to rectify that situation in early 2016 by launching a composting program for on-campus apartments, including Hillsides, Latin Way, and Sophia Gordon.
The program aimed to divert food waste from the trash. On-campus apartments have full kitchens, meaning students living in those spaces are more likely to be cooking regularly – and therefore producing more food waste – than students in some of the other dorms.
22 apartments received bins during the first pilot round of the program and several more joined during the spring semester.
Students who signed up for the program received a bin at the beginning of the spring semester, along with instructions about maintaining their compost and locations around campus where the bins could be emptied. Recycling interns also sent out a weekly email with tips and reminders.
Recycling is currently working to improve the program and investigating the potential of having off-campus apartments participate.
(Pictured above: Savannah Christiansen, ‘16, Recycling intern, coordinated the program’s launch in the spring of 2016.)
So a few days ago, the microwave in our office broke.
*This is a dramatic reenactment using an image from the interwebs and NOT what actually happened to our microwave.
Naturally we were all pretty upset. We all bring lunch from home and many of us like to heat up our soups, casseroles, and other leftovers.
Before we could panic, though, someone had the great idea to ask the Tufts Freecycle Elist to help us out!
The Freecycle Elist was started by an Eco-Ambassador, Stacie Simon, and anyone from the Tufts community can join. Whether you’ve got furniture or office supplies you no longer need but that is still in good condition or you’re looking for something specific (like a microwave!), the e-list is a great first resource. It’s all about reuse and free exchange.
Sure enough, the same day we sent out our plea for help, another Eco-Ambassador, Lynne Ramsey, wrote us back with a microwave to offer! We had it in our office and up and running within a couple of days. It was totally free and we helped Lynne clear out her basement a bit. 😉
Our new-used microwave looks much better and is working great!
You could have success with the Tufts Freecycle E-list too! Sign up today to not only get emails whenever someone posts about an item (chairs, rugs, printers, ink, lamps, etc.) they’re giving away — but also reach out when you’re looking for something! You never know what treasures someone else is holding onto.
The final President’s Picnic of 2016 was held in Grafton on Wednesday, June 15th, a lovely and sunny conclusion to the annual year-end event series.
Drinks and condiments were served in bulk, which cut back on the amount of plastic and other packaging waste produced during the event.
Attendees were encouraged to BYOP — bring your own plates — as another way to reduce waste. Over 80 people brought their own dishes.
Anyone who brought their own dishes, cups, or utensils was entered into a raffle for a special prize. The first 50 visitors to our table also got a prize automatically!
Lillian of Student Services at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine won the top prize – a reusable, stainless steel lunch kit and utensil set!
Recycling interns helped sort recycling and compost at special Zero Waste Stations.
6 bags of recycling were collected, weighing about 48 pounds, while there were 40 pounds of food waste. Trash from the entire event fit into a tiny bag and weighed less than 2 pounds!
The lunch was catered by Loaves and Fishes.
Many thanks to everyone who helped make this event zero waste!
See all the photos here.