Single Stream vs. Dual Stream

Ever wonder why you can’t just throw anything recyclable into one bin? We have too. In many cities, including Medford and Somerville, users can dispose of all kinds of recyclable materials into one bin for collection. Here at Tufts, however, we have a dual-stream recycling program, which means that paper and cardboard are separated from glass, plastic, and cans.  This system is the standard for recycling programs throughout the US. However, the debate over whether to switch to a single-stream collection system has raged on.

single stream

Other universities have experimented with single-stream recycling, with mixed results. In 2010, the University of Colorado Boulder decided to switch from dual-stream to single-stream for a pilot recycling program.  They used just one bin to collect all recyclables in the residential halls, which was intended to increase participation in recycling due to the convenience of one bin and ease of collecting the recyclables. The test ran from August to May and was publicized to students through direct outreach.

Although the pilot program intended to make collecting recyclables easier, there were many other negative consequences that caused the university to switch back to dual-stream recycling after the school year.  One of the largest costs associated with the program was that contamination in the recycling bins increased significantly.  Increased amounts of trash were found in the recycling bin, and residue from food/beverage containers ruined the paper fibers in the bin.  Because of this, the recycled papers collected had reduced life cycles and were worth less when CU sold the materials.

The only place at Tufts where single-stream recycling exists is at the Dental School building on the Boston campus. Due to the mixed-use clinic, office, and classroom setting, TuftsRecycles! decided to test out a single-stream program there several years ago. While we’re still not convinced that this program could be scaled over the entire university, or even to the rest of the Boston campus, we still look to the Dental School program as a potential site for innovation and learning for recycling on campus.

For now, Tufts will remain a dual stream campus where paper materials are sorted out from other recyclables, unless our waste stream profiles begin to show that it would assist in attaining our annual 3% waste reduction goal. So keep putting paper in those lovely blue bins and know that you are helping Tufts get closer and closer to achieving “zero-waste.”

Further reading:

CU Boulder Single-Stream Recycling: http://www.aashe.org/resources/case-studies/testing-single-stream-versus-dual-stream-recycling-cu

Tufts University Dental School Recycling: http://dental.tufts.edu/about/green-initiative/recycling/

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Welcome Back!

Welcome all new and returning students! As summer turns into fall, Tufts’ campus becomes more picturesque each day with vibrant leaves in the trees, clear blue skies above our heads, and yellow compost bins on the curb. You may remember some of Tufts Recycles initiatives (Recyclemania, anyone?), but let’s sweep the cobwebs out of those corners with a quick refresher about what you can do on campus to reduce waste.

As mentioned above, just keep your eyes peeled for those big yellow bins that are just waiting for you to pop in your apple core or food remains.  If you’re on-campus, you will probably find a compost bin in the kitchen, but if you’re off-campus fill out a request form and an intern will drop one off. Composting is a strong part of Tufts waste reduction program, and the Medford campus alone composts a little over one ton of food waste each day, according to Tufts Dining Services. Get involved in composting because you’re giving mother nature a hand in her version of recycling and you can’t get better karma than that.

Sometimes you don’t bring enough notebooks to campus, but sometimes (okay most of the time) you bring way too many hangers, binders, trashcans, fans, and clothes. What are you going to do then? Well my friends, the answer is simple enough. Freecycle it! There are Freecycle closets in Haskell, South, Hodgdon, and Wren where you can give and take items with ease. No need to fill up your personal trashcan with usable items – just put it in the communal closet and you’ll definitely make someone else’s day (a Tufts Recycles intern’s day to be specific).

Finally, here’s the nitty-gritty details about recycling:

  • Green = bottles, glass, hard metals, plastic lids (feel free to lift the lid)
  • Blue = paper (you know this one)
  • Yellow = compost (all those slippery banana peels and other organics)
  • Grey* = trash (don’t need that though, right?)

So now you have it all. Compost, freecycle, recycle – get your groove on and get sustainable this year!

*Although sometimes you may see a brown trashcan, we’re phasing those out for all grey ones.

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New Charging Station and Mural

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Last September Tufts worked with National Grid to install an electric vehicle charging station in the Dowling parking garage on the first level. In order to make the charging station more visible, Tufts Recycles was commissioned to create a mural that highlights Tufts efforts towards a more sustainable future. The mural was designed by Rachel Ison (’14) and painted with the help of Tufts Recycles.  The mural was completed on May 17, 2014, the day before Tufts Graduation.

Rachel graduated this spring with a degree in Anthropology and Environmental Studies. She spent her senior year interning here at Tufts Recycles. Her mural features a green and white color palate and is approximately 8 feet high by 20 feet wide. It features images of renewable energy sources such as windmills and solar panels, as well as a picture of an electric car.

The charging station is owned and operated by National Grid, a multinational British electricity and gas company headquartered in London that also operates in the northeastern United States. The station is capable of charging up to two plug in electric vehicles (PEVs) at a time. Electric cars have the potential to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions because they do not emit exhaust from a tailpipe and can be powered by renewable resources. The use of electric cars however is limited due to the lack of infrastructure in the form of charging stations that exists. Tufts choice to install the charging station demonstrates a commitment to a more sustainable future.

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Update 7/31/14: An earlier version of this post failed to clarify that the station is owned and operated by National grid.

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Goodbye Seniors!

Tufts Recycles! congratulates each member of the Class of 2014 on all of their achievements and hard work throughout their time at Tufts. Over 10,000 supporters, including the Tufts Recycles! team, came out to the commencement ceremony at the Medford campus to see the graduates off into the post-college world.  As the sun shone brightly above, the graduates’ family and friends enjoyed picnicking on the President’s Lawn where 7,500 boxed lunches had been pre-made. After lunch was finished, the TR! team separated out the various components of the lunches at this Zero-Waste Event with a commingled recycling station where paper and plastic went into one receptacle.  Left-over food waste was placed into the yellow and black compost bins that had been set out into 7 stations. CompostToters_YellowIn the end, just four bags of trash (made up mostly of plastic wrappings) were sent to the dumpster after the Commencement Lunch, which was definitely a resounding success for an event of this size!  Next year TR! hopes that the trash from Commencement Lunch can be reduced to less than four bags and the graduating class will get to enjoy another Zero-Waste Event with just as much pride.

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R2ePACK. Or, the dirty things you left behind

The spring semester is over, and campus is dead. You’ve packed up, moved out, and gone home for the summer. But  the work’s not over…at least for the Tufts Recycles! team. If you’ve been on campus these past few weeks, you may have seen a small group of people lugging big clear trash bags from dorms into a big rental truck and moving around campus sitting in the back of it on top of the hundreds of mattress pads and amongst the plethora of strange items students leave behind. This was R2ePACK, and it was an adventure. Several brave souls and I worked with Dawn Quirk for two weeks cleaning out everything left behind in student housing. We went from Carpenter House to SoGo to Latin Way, Haskell, Russian House, and even out to the graduate houses you didn’t know existed all the way up on Fairmont street. For days and days we bagged up clothes, sheets, towels, mattress pads, lamps, hangers, fans, storage bins, crutches and trash cans from the freecycle boxes in the lobbies and lounges of these dorms and houses. While some were barely full, others looked like this, a deserted but very messy Wilson House:photo 1 (2)

And a very very messy SoGo:image (2)image

We worked tirelessly, bagging up this stuff, loading it into a rental truck, then moving it from there into the gigantic goodwill trailer to be donated. photo 3photo 4photo 2 (2)Here’s what it looked like when it was empty…IMG_20140519_151006And when it was full, we literally couldn’t fit another bag inside.image (1)

Though it was weird to see how much stuff people throw away during move out, it was even weirder to see how much they just left inside their rooms. After senior week when everyone had moved out of the dorms, we started going inside, looking through suites in Hillsides, SoGo, and Latin Way to collect food, clothes, sheets, and anything goodwill could use. We found some suites that were spotless, but some looked like people hadn’t moved out at all. Sheets were on the beds, fridges were full, and bathrooms were stocked. We found some very weird rooms that were full of very interesting things, like the one below.photoWe did the same thing here, bagging up items and moving them into the goodwill truck. It seemed like we would never be done!10371604_10152282131097605_5615318560681167633_nphoto (1)But finally, the last bag was in the trailer! We collected all the freecycle boxes from every dorm and house, and took all the unopened food to Project Soup in Somverville.photo (2)All of the dorm supplies that were still in good condition, like lamps, mirrors, hangers, tables, storage boxes, shower caddies, vacuums, brooms, ironing boards, and kitchen and school supplies were separated and put into storage rooms to be given to incoming freshmen next year. A portion of these will be put in the freecycle areas in South, Haskell, Wren, and the newly renovated Tilton and Hodgdon halls. The rest will be given away at an event put on by the Tufts Green House (Latin Way 250s) during freshman orientation (look out for more updates about this early next semester!)

 

If this experience taught me anything, it’s that I really really didn’t need to buy as many hangers as I did. Or all those command hooks and cheap pillows. To incoming freshmen – remember that you’ll be able to take your pick of all these nice dorm supplies for free! And to everyone, remember to buy only what  you need when coming back next semester. 

 

Mina Brewer

 

 

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R2epack Continues!

With students moving out every day now, the piles of unwanted clothes, lamps, mirrors, and school supplies keep rising. But our trash may be someone’s treasure! All the clothes we collect from R2epack go to Goodwill, and the Tufts Green House (Latin Way 250s) will be giving away these used dorm supplies at the beginning of next semester for a back to school freecycle!

Remember, before you leave – Reuse, recycle everything, and pack and clean before you go home. Have a great summer everyone!

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Green Bean Earth Day Challenge 2014!

 

Earth Day is important for everyone, and this year there’s even more reason to participate! The best recyclers will be entered to win several amazing prizes; anyone with access to large amounts of empty glass and aluminum containers (ones found in other recycling receptacles are fair game) could have a great shot at winning. So, get to the Campus Center soon and be a part of the Green Bean Earth Day Challenge!

The Green Bean Machine (located in the Mayer Campus Center) is a recycling resource for college students that rewards users with 5 cents for each bottle or aluminum can recycled.  Check it out and start making money for recycling!

Click here for blog posts about Green Bean!

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Final Recyclemania Scores!

recyclemaniaTUFTS2014

 

After a heated 8 weeks of competition, Recyclemania has come to a close with a bang as the final scores for all of the dorms and houses have been recorded. So, without further ado, we present to you the Recyclemania 2014 winners! In the dormitory category, the gold goes to:

METCALF and WREN!

And in the house category, with a surprising four way tie, the winners are:

CARPENTER, CRAFTS, GERMAN, and JEWISH CULTURE!

Thank you all for participating in Recyclemania 2014, signing pledges to recycle, and helping Tufts finish strong in the national competition. Be sure to keep up the hard work and good recycling as the semester winds down! Take a peek at the charts below to see the scores of every dorm and house.

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For individual floor grades, please click below.

RecyclemaniaDorms 2014

RecyclemaniaHouses 2014

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ROUND ONE GRADES ARE OUT!

recyclemaniaTUFTS2014

 

 

The winning dorm and houses this round were…

WREN, JEWISH CULTURE and 9-11 SUNSET!!!

Residences rounding out the bottom are Houston, Haskell, and Start House. Round two grading starts now- plenty of time to climb the ranks!

Full scores:
 

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For more detailed scores, click the links below:

2014 DORM SCORES                                         2014 HOUSE SCORES

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Recyclemania Update: Week 3

Tufts Recycles! is currently working to promote Recyclemania, a national competition that runs from Feb. 2 to April 8. The Per Capita Classic division has 312 competing schools and Tufts has moved up from 65th Week 3. Tufts Recycles! also has been grading dorms on their recycling to foster competition on campus. On March 2, the second round of dorm grading will be finished so updated results will be available to see how the dorms are ranked. For more information on the grades from round one and Recyclemania in general, check out our article in the Tufts Daily at http://www.tuftsdaily.com/op-ed/recyclemania-2014-get-ready-go-1.2854658#.UxSrH-NdXTo.

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