Tag: Waste (page 1 of 3)

Zero Waste Week Is Back on the Medford Campus!

zerowasteweek

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How much waste do YOU produce? Take the Zero Waste Challenge from April 18th-22nd to learn about your own habits, reduce your personal trash output, and compete with other participants!

Then bring your bag to the Academic Quad on April 22nd from 2:30-3:30PM for Jumbo Mountains and free snacks with the Eco-Reps at the Earth Day celebration. You might even win a gift card for your efforts to live more sustainably!

Sign up here to receive your Zero Waste kit in time to start the Challenge.

4 Quick Tips to Keep Your Dorm Room Green During Spring Break

Spring break is finally upon us, and many of us can’t wait to head out for some much needed R&R. But whether you’re heading home, hitting the beach somewhere warmer, taking a road trip or going off the grid for a few days of hiking, don’t forget that all the systems that make your dorm room comfortable when school is in session keep working even when you aren’t!

If you’re leaving campus for the week, take a second while you pack or prep to go over this mini-checklist. Help ensure that your dorm room or apartment is using as little energy as possible while you’re away.

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Not only will this help reduce heat loss, it’s also a good precaution to take in case of heavy rain and wind.

If you’re able to control your room temperature, turn it down to about 65 degrees, or slightly cooler than you normally keep it. You’ll be able to quickly bring your room back up to temperature when you return. (But fingers crossed that it’ll be warm enough that you won’t need to!)

(via Tufts Photo)

 

3. Report any leaking faucets.

Alert Facilities to the leak before you leave. Small drips add up!

(Photo via motherearthnews.com)

4. Unplug any non-essential appliances.

Don’t worry about your refrigerator, but if you have a coffee machine, toaster, alarm clock, desk lamp, hair dryer, game console or other appliance which doesn’t need to stay on during the break, unplug it to reduce phantom energy loss.

(Photo via unh.edu)

 

Waste Diversion Manager, UCSD (San Diego, CA)

The Waste Diversion Manager will draft and implement a campus plan for accomplishing diversion of solid waste from landfill according to UC Office of the President requirements and taking into account campus stakeholder needs and desires. Diversion methods may include but are not limited to reuse, recycling, composting, and other diversion and disposal technology. Of special interest are methodologies that accomplish closed loop use of resources and energy recovery.

The Waste Diversion Manager will:

  • Manage all aspects of Campus-wide Integrated Waste Management Program. Plan, organize, and coordinate all waste disposal and recycling activities and resources at UC San Diego. Establish annual goals for waste minimization and recycling, and serve as advisor and consultant to campus departments and organizations engaged in recycling programs. Supervise, direct and provide guidance to recycling staff members.
  • Provide counsel and discipline to staff, when necessary. Administer contracts made with waste management and recycling vendors. Work closely with Local, State and Federal government agencies to monitor and analyze changes in waste disposal and recycling industries. Lead, including providing administrative and technical support to campus Waste Minimization Advisory Committee.
Application Deadline:  July 13th

Apply Online

Introducing: The Trash Buddy Program


Tufts is joining a rapidly growing number of colleges and universities in adopting a proven new office waste management program for faculty and staff that we’re calling the “trash buddy” initiative. Tufts has a robust recycling program, but with your participation in the “trash buddy” initiative, we can do better!

A trash buddy is a miniature trash can that attaches to the blue paper recycling bin in your individual office or cubicle. The trash buddy replaces your traditional desk-side trash can, and its size represents the typical proportion of office waste that is truly trash. The trash buddy’s small volume and attachment to the recycled paper bin encourage recycling. Comparable programs at other universities and organizations increased recycling rates by up to 55%.

All waste produced at your desk that is not recyclable should be disposed of in the trash buddy, and you should empty the trash buddy into a central waste station when it fills up or whenever you find convenient. Only paper and cardboard  should be placed in the desk-side recycling bin the trash buddy attaches to. Central waste stations are typically found in common or well-traversed spaces in your office or building and include a trash bin, a paper and cardboard recycling bin, and a glass, metal, and plastic recycling bin. Custodians will empty the central waste stations every day and will empty your individual paper recycling bin weekly when your office or cubicle is cleaned.

For details, visit the Facilities Services Trash Buddy web page. Want more information about how to recycle at Tufts? Check out the recycling primer!

Zero Waste Challenge, The Penultimate Day

We’ve reached the last full day of the Zero Waste Challenge. How’s everyone feeling?? Is your bag still empty, or have you had to snag a second Ziploc to handle all your coffee cups?

So I have a bit of a confession to make. I haven’t been totally honest about following the Challenge. I chose not to put in the moldy Gouda that I tossed this weekend – you can’t put dairy in the compost, unfortunately. I also told myself that if I knew that it could be composted if a compost were available, it didn’t count – like the apple I threw into the trash at my internship in Boston or the paper towels I tossed aside in Eaton. I also composted one of those food containers from Hodgdon even though I wasn’t totally sure whether it was compostable… It looked like it! And it was only the second day of the challenge, and I would have had that smelly thing in my bag all week…

I promise I really have been trying, though. I ate a pear between classes one day and carried it around in a bundle of paper towels for hours until I could get back to my dorm and put it in the compost.

Something we’ve discussed around the office was that “Zero Waste Challenge” is kind of a misnomer. We’re not actually asking you to go waste-free for the week: we hope that you’ll be more observant of your own habits and aware of how carrying around your waste – taking the “away” out of throwing trash away – changes how you feel about it. When your waste sticks around, you start thinking about how you can reduce it, right? How could we produce similar results on a large scale? Establish a cap-and-trade system for waste? Set a per capita limit for waste and charge heavy fees beyond that? Require individual landfills in every apartment or backyard so that we all share equally in waste disposal? That would never happen, but you get the idea.

Many of the realizations I’ve had so far have been about our system of consumption and disposal and how it can trap us in or free us from vicious cycles. Like that time I carried a pear around for hours: wouldn’t it have been nice if there were compost bins available on campus besides just in dorms and the dining hall? Same thing with those paper towels in Eaton. Tufts uses mostly unbleached napkins and paper towels, and they can be composted, which is awesome, except that we generally use paper towels in bathrooms where no compost bin is available. Sure, we could carry our used towels around with us – but I think we’d be more likely to see more positive change in individual habits if we were enabled by the system, e.g. if compost bins were available in academic buildings and bathrooms around campus. What’s more, in many dorm bathrooms there aren’t even paper towels but those little tissues that get all peely if you try to dry your hands with them. Why can’t we install some hand dryers, simultaneously saving trees and the hands of poor students in cold and windy winters?

But I realize I haven’t even given you the breakdown of what’s in my bag. Let’s take a look:

  • Gum. So. Much. Gum. I knew this was going to be a problem going into the Challenge – I tend to go through about 4 pieces of gum a day. Most gum wrappers are definitely not compostable, and the internet is divided over whether gum is. I have no idea what my gum is made of – trust me, I tried to read the ingredients and left more mystified than before – so I don’t know how much of it is natural and biodegradable. (Then I start thinking, if it’s not safe to put back into the earth, why am I putting it in me? But it’s an addiction.)
  • Plastic bags – Many plastic bags can be reused or recycled in grocery stores, but then there are those super-thin crinkly ones that you bag your vegetables in at Stop and Shop or Whole Foods or what have you. I try to reuse them but they’re such a low-grade plastic that even washing it feels useless. I HAD a big bag from pretzels in there, but I learned I could Terracycle it! Who knew??
  • Lint. I wish I could have avoided this by hanging my laundry outside – it would have smelled like sunshine! – but such is college. The jury also seems to be out on lint. Tufts Recycles! actually wrote about this issue last year – they would not support composting lint. From the little reading I did online, I think I have to agree with them. If you know for certain that your clothes do not contain synthetic materials, that’s one thing – but most of us, if not all, can’t say that for sure. And any chemicals that end up in your compost will end up in the earth and back in your food or somebody else’s.
  • The plastic wrapper that held my two boxes of soap together.
  • Two hand wipes – I try to avoid these in general (these are the first ones I’ve used in at least a year) because water does the job just fine. Plus, with all the chemicals on them, they’re definitely not going in the compost – so they end up in the trash.

Let’s look at my progression over the week:

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For me, the big idea that comes out of this challenge – and something that has already been a huge part of my life, affecting the decisions I make about what I eat, wear, etc. – is that as individuals and as a culture we aren’t cognizant of nor willing to take responsibility for the consequences of our consumption. And not even just environmental either: Earlier this week we posted a Ted Talk by Van Jones, covering the complexities of the intersections of environmentalism and social justice. When we throw away our trash – or even when we recycle – it leaves our little corner of reality but it goes and pollutes someone else’s backyard or fills someone else’s lungs with fumes.  How about that nice blouse you bought from H&M? Do you know where it was made? Do you know how the people who made it live, or how much they earned? If you wear it three or four times and then throw it out because you get tired of it or it gets too ratty, is that doing any justice to the handiwork and materials that went towards its production and distribution? Or the chocolate in the cookies you just ate – was it produced through slave labor in Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)?

I know this is overwhelming, but we as individuals need to acknowledge that our standard of living has consequences, usually not for us directly but for those without political voice or influence, for future generations, etc. I definitely have a problem with the environmental and social repercussions of my lifestyle, and I try to minimize them as much as possible. I hope our Zero Waste Challenge can move you towards doing the same – and together, I hope we can work for systemic change, because whatever we do as individuals, it will have so much more impact if we do it together.

~~Stina Stannik

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