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What does 2018 mean for the environment?

Last year, 2017, was a year of extremes for our environment. According to NASA, 2017 is likely to be the second hottest year in recorded history. Here in the United States, we saw the extraordinary power of three devastating hurricanes: Irma, Harvey, and Maria. Residents are still recovering from the destruction of these hurricanes. Widespread wildfires in California destroyed thousands of acres of land, homes, and lives. The year ended with a cold snap that has spread throughout the Northeast, leading to record low temperatures across the country. There is mounting evidence from climatologist that these extreme weather events will become more frequent with the increase of the greenhouse gases we emit into our atmosphere that contribute to climate change.
On June 1st of 2017, President Trump announced the withdrawal of American participation from the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement was the first of its kind, facilitated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)that bound all countries to decrease their greenhouse gas emissions, in order to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celcius of pre-industrial temperatures. The agreement allows each nation to set their own emissions goals in accordance with the goals of the agreement. Find more information about the Paris Agreement from the UNFCC.

However, not all environmental news in 2017 was negative. There was a new wave of environmental activism and commitment to combat climate change in reaction to the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. The “We are still in” movement was launched immediately; thousands of companies, cities, states, and institutions, including Tufts, affirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement despite the lack of federal support for the agreement. The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, created the Make our Planet Great Again initiative to provide funding and support for all who wish to conduct environmental research.

While 2017 was a year of climate and environmental political extremes, it was also a year of great environmental activism and commitment to combat climate change. What does this mean for 2018? We need to continue our commitment to environmental activism this year. One important way to do so is by advocating for the environment through our votes in the 2018 midterm elections and volunteering in our local communities. Another great way is to work to lower your personal environmental impact by reducing your carbon and waste footprint.

Reduce your waste and carbon footprint:

  • Eat less meat- try to eat less or even eliminate factory farmed meat for your diet.
  • Buy used– look for previously used or owned items before buying new.
  • Eat local- Sign up for a CSA share or check out your local farmer’s market.
  •  Say yes to reusable items- Opt for reusable products over single-use items.
  • Consume less- Don’t buy unnecessary items that will just wind up in the landfill
  •  Bike, walk, use public transportation, and carpool – Not only will it lower your carbon footprint, but it will also improve your personal health.
  • Use less plastic- Find package free items to reduce your plastic consumption.
  •  Share and connect- Share your passion for environmental causes with others.

The uncertainty of our collective environmental future can be frightening at times, so let us do all that we can to reduce our individual impact on the environment and hold our representatives accountable to protect their constituents by protecting the environment. In 2018, let’s get more civically engaged, environmentally aware, and passionate than ever before.

Learn from Bae Johnson how to reduce your waste this year:

 

December 2017 Eco-Ambassador Session #2 – Medford

Session Summary:

We started off our second session by hearing from a current Eco-Ambassador, Rachel Brown, on the office sustainability projects that she has worked on over the years. Then we discussed water, including where Tufts’ water comes from, water conservation projects at the university, and ways you can conserve water in your offices. Carlos Robles from MassRIDES joined us to talk about transportation options and resources available to Tufts employees on the Boston and Medford campuses. We reviewed ways to “green” meetings and events and looked at green event resources on the OOS website. We went over energy use and infrastructure at Tufts, as well as upcoming energy projects and ways to conserve energy in our offices. To end the day, we sorted “Eco-labels” and talked about which are reliable and unreliable and reviewed some purchasing tips and resources.

Assignments for next week:

  • Introduce yourself as an Eco-Ambassador to your officemates
  • Meet with your supervisor/Eco-Ambassador team
  • Create a draft community-based social marketing plan using this worksheet. Email to Shoshana by Friday, January 12.

Next Steps:

  • Now that you have more familiarity with these topics, it could be a great time to finish the green office certification checklist that you started before, to get your office green office certified.

 Additional Resources

Water:

Transportation:

  • Tufts’ Commuter Benefits: Visit the Tufts Human Resources websitefor information about how you can get transit passes with pre-tax funds.
  • Transportation Incentives & Regional Programs: folks on all campuses can sign up for NuRide to find carpool partners and earn rewards for your “green” trips.  Employees on the Medford and Grafton campuses, can sign up for MassRIDES’ Emergency Ride HomeABC TMA provides incentives to employees on the Boston Campus, including the Guaranteed Ride Home Program.
  • Public Transportation: Visit the MBTA websitefor information on the rail, bus, subway, and commuter boat systems and access to helpful resources such as schedules & mapsreloading your CharlieCard online, and MBTA apps.
  • Tufts Shuttles: Find information about Tufts’ shuttles, including schedules and the live tracker, here.
  • BikingMassBikeoffers a wide range of bicycle safety and maintenance courses as well as extensive online resources about bike laws, local bike clubs, guides for new bikers, and much more. Learn more about bike safety from the Tufts University Police Department. View the City of Somerville Bicycle Routes map here.
  • General Transportation Info: Visit the EPA’s websitefor information about transportation and climate change, regulations related to greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, and how to calculate your greenhouse gas emissions.
  • For guests traveling to campus: Provide information about how to travel to your campus via public transportation.  This page(and its subpages) have some good resources and language.
  • Transportation Brochures and Maps: Visit the Office of Sustainability’s Publications Libraryfor electronic versions of our various transportation-related handouts.

Meetings & Events:

Energy:

Purchasing:

Additional Topics of Interest:

  • The Environmental Studies program organizes weekly Lunch & Learns about environmental and sustainability topics that are open to all members of the Tufts community (free food is provided!) – learn more and see a schedule of upcoming speakers here.
  • There are CSA farm shares that deliver directly to the Medford and Boston campuses.  This is a great way to get fresh produce delivered conveniently to Tufts.  Click here for more information.
  • Meet other Eco-Ambassadors at Tufts – click here for a list(you will be added shortly!).

Contacts

Shoshana Blank

Education & Outreach Program Administrator

Shoshana.Blank@tufts.edu

(617)627-2973

Rachel Brown

Eco-Ambassador

Rachel.Brown@tufts.edu

(617)627-7957

Carlos Robles

MassRIDES

Carlos.Robeles@state.ma.us

Commute.com

 

November 2017 Eco-Ambassador Session #1 – Medford

Session Summary:

During our first meeting, we discussed the history of the Eco-Ambassador program and the role of Eco-Ambassadors, as well as the definition and meaning of “sustainability.” We also went through an overview of sustainability at Tufts and the goals for water, waste, and energy and emissions set forth in the Campus Sustainability Council Report. We then discussed waste and recycling at Tufts.  To round out the day, we talked about behavior change and the steps to creating a Community-Based Social Marketing plan, followed by an overview of climate change, its impacts, and how it will specifically impact the Boston area.

Assignments for next week:

  • Do your personal behavior change challenge! We will report back to each other about how it went.
  • Introduce yourself as an Eco-Ambassador to your officemates, your department, etc. This can be informal in person, or maybe you want to do a cute email?
  • Check that you have the proper Landfill and Mixed Recycling labels on your waste bins and that you have a blue lid on the recycling lid. Also, assess if you want a wall sign sticker to go above your waste bins. Please bring a list of what you need to next week’s session.
  • Start brainstorming behavior change ideas for your office (some of you have some ideas already!)

Additional Resources

Sustainability at Tufts:

Behavior Change:

Climate Change:

Waste & Recycling:

Contacts

Shoshana Blank

Education & Outreach Program Administrator

Shoshana.Blank@tufts.edu

(617)627-2973

Gretchen Carey

Recycling and Organics Coordinator

RepublicServicesGCarey@republicservices.com

(781)560-1412

 

Recycle (General)

Recycle@tufts.edu

Go.tufts.edu/recycle

 

Sustainable Resolutions

Happy 2018! Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions? Maybe you’re trying to eat healthier, more organic or local food. Signing up for a local CSA is a great way to help you achieve that resolution, by signing up each week you’ll receive fresh and local fruits and veggies! Tufts partners with World PEAS to deliver farm shares right on campus, find out more information here! Or maybe for your resolution you want to get into better shape? Instead of driving where you need to go, try walking, running, or biking wherever possible! Not only will you be exercising more, but you will also be saving CO2 from entering the atmosphere and saving money that you would have spent on gas. Taking public transportation  and carpooling to get to your destination are other great ways to go further distances and cut down on your carbon emissions.

Another great resolution you may have is to use less disposable plastic this year. There are some easy ways to reduce your plastic consumption. One of the most convenient is to bring reusable bags with you everywhere you go. Another great way to cut down on your waste is to shop in bulk and bring your own containers. And a cool, newer option for online shopping is to opt for hassle free packaging when you check out.

Perhaps you have already incorporated these tips into your daily life. You avoid driving and single-use plastic,  and support local and sustainable farming through your eating habits. So how can you use your New Year’s Resolution to create more of an impact?

You’re in luck! This year, 2018,  is an election year, you can use your vote to elect representatives that align with your views on the environment. Organizations like the Environmental Voter Project help to inform the public about environmental issues and organize to “Get Out the Vote” before elections.Voters in every state can look up their registration status, elected officials, and polling place. Locate your MA polling place on the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts site. If you’re registered to vote outside of Massachusetts organizations like Headcount can help you find out how and where to vote. Our democracy is strengthened when more people turn out to vote, especially during mid-term elections. America has one of the lowest voter turnout rates among developed nations. This new year, you can strengthen our democracy and make your voice heard by voting!

Do you want to give back to your local community this year? Volunteering with organizations that share your values is a great way to increase your civic engagement. Find a list of national environmental organizations with local chapters all across the country here. Read more tips from the EPA about how to get more involved with local environmental organizations.

The Office of Sustainability wishes you a happy 2018! We can’t wait to collaborate more with you all to make 2018 a more sustainable year full of civic-engagement and community building!

 

 

 

Bring Home Sustainability

Congratulations, you finished the semester! You’re done with finals and are heading home for winter break. We know that before you left campus, you made sure to unplug all of your electronics, turn the heat down to 1, and close all of your windows.

You’re officially ready to leave for break, but don’t forget about sustainability while you’re at home. While at school, we are often shielded from a lot of the waste that is created on our behalf. In the dining halls, we often don’t see all of the packaging that goes into food production and all of the food waste at the end of meals. At home, we can be more aware of the waste we produce.

How to bring sustainability home with you:

Remember to recycle!

At home, it can be easy to put all waste into the trash bin. So, remember all of the good recycling habits that you learned at Tufts and bring them home with you. Always sort your waste into bins destined for the landfill or recycling.

Care to compost!

At Tufts, the Eco-Reps take out compost from the dorms, but at home, there might not be a city-wide composting program. If you don’t, talk to your family starting your own compost pile at home. When food waste is sent to the landfill, it releases methane gas. When food waste is recycled to form fertile soil. Learn more about how to create a compost at home from the EPA.

Reduce your food waste.

Holiday meals are notorious for their large spreads of food. Make sure you eat what you can and that you save any leftovers. Read more tips for a sustainable, food-centric holiday from our Thanksgiving blog.

Think before you buy!

Have you ever thought about how much energy, labor, water, and raw materials go into everything that you buy? Before buying new, try reusing what you already have, or buy used and save money. Watch The Story of Stuff to learn more about the life cycle of some of our most used goods.

Be wary of plastic packaging! 

Plastic film cannot be recycled and is used in many single-use items. Before you buy something in plastic wrapping, try looking for a bulk size to cut down on packaging waste or find a similar item that’s not wrapped in plastic.

Make sustainability your New Year’s resolution!

In 2018, commit to being more sustainable and taking steps to reduce your environmental impact. Read some great tips for how to live more sustainably from the Center for Biological Diversity.

Bring on the sweater weather!

Put on a sweater before turning up the heat. Save energy in your home by keeping the temperature down, and if you get chilly, then put on a sweater and some cozy socks before turning up the heat.

Connect and engage!

Being home is a great time to reconnect with your family, friends, and community. Share your passion for sustainability with your communities at home. Here are some tips for .

Enjoy your time off from lectures, exams, and projects, but don’t forget about your environmental impact and responsibilities. Enjoy a restful and sustainable winter break!

 

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