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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.

 

 

2018 Spotlight Award from MassRIDES

At the recent president’s picnic, Carlos Robles from MassRIDES presented our own Shoshana Blank with our 2018 Spotlight Award.  MassRIDES is a program of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) that works to reduce traffic condition and improve air quality in the state through partnerships with employers, colleges, and universities.

The Spotlight Award is given to companies and organizations that offer and incentivize sustainable commuting options. Tufts University was given an honorable mention for our various efforts to promote public transportation, biking, and other sustainable forms of transportation.

Many employees, staff, and students commute to Tufts Medford, Boston, SMFA and Grafton campuses on a daily basis. Sustainable transportation helps reduce traffic congestion, improves air quality, and supports strong local and regional economies.

Not only is biking and taking public transportation a more sustainable way to commute, it can also be a much more peaceful and rewarding endeavor! A driven commute during rush hours in Boston be incredibly stressful, so why not take public transportation instead? Instead of being stuck in stop-and-go traffic, you could be on a bus reading a book, or on a bike releasing some stress-relieving endorphins.

So how do we promote and facilitate public transportation here at Tufts?

Getting the word out:

All new staff hired at Tufts go through an orientation to encourage sustainable commuting. There, they are provided with information on programs like Bay State Commute and MassRIDE’s Emergency Ride Home which offer reimbursements and incentives for taking public transportation, carpooling, and biking. The Office of Sustainability also hands out commuting brochures to new students at all graduate student orientations and at a number of undergraduate orientation events.

Tufts Initiatives to Promote Sustainable Commuting:

  • This year Tufts started offering all of its employees a 35% discount on their MBTA passes .
  • Tufts Bikes, a student-run bikeshare, has 30 bicycles available for rent to encourage biking. Bikes and helmets are checked out just like library books, and can be kept for up to 8 hours.
  • We have 11 Zipcars on campus and the annual membership is discounted for students, staff, and faculty.
  • Shuttles connect the Medford/Somerville campus to the Davis Square train station, as well as to our SMFA campus in the Fenway. Live tracking of our shuttles is available on the Tufts Mobile app.
  • Students at the SMFA campus can receive Lyft credits for a Safe Ride between campus buildings.

Resources for Sustainable Commuting:

  • Our Sustainable Commuting brochures for the BostonGrafton, and SMFA campuses highlight many of the commuter benefit programs available to Tufts employees as well as information on MBTA discounts offered through Tufts, carshare and ride matching programs, and several public transportation options and routes.
  • Our Bike Guide publication and website illustrate where cyclists can lock up, get their bikes fixed at the FixIt station, and shower on campus.
  • The Tufts Eco-Map is available online, in print, as well as on the Tufts Mobile app and Google Maps. It shows features such as EV charging stations, Zipcars, Hubway bikes, Tufts Bikes bikeshare, MBTA bus stops, and Tufts shuttle stops.

 

2018 Tufts Move-Out Recap

Summer has officially begun, all of the students leaving Medford for the summer have moved out, and we can finally stop posting all over our social media about Move-Out 2018!

Thank you so much to everyone who donated their unwanted items. This year, we collected 14,290 pounds of textiles, 719 pounds of food, as well as a significant amount of other donations in the form of e-waste, books, appliances, furniture, and miscellaneous items! That is very significant amount of items that will not be going straight into the landfills, as would have otherwise happened.

Many thanks also to all of the Recycling student workers and staff and the Office of Sustainability staff who helped sort through, organize, carry, and store all of the items. It took us many, many hours to ensure that what can be reused will have the opportunity to find a new home.

So what happens with all the items that are collected?

  • Many of the items that are in working and usable condition go to the Back To School Sale hosted by the Green House in the fall. The profits from the sale help them run programs on campus throughout the school year.Items collected that will be sold in the fall move out sale
  • Books go to the Book-it-Forward Lending Library which allows Tufts students on financial aid to borrow textbooks and other books. Books that will go to book-it-forward
  • Non-perishable food items are donated to Project Soup, part of the Somerville Homeless CoalitionNon perishable foods taken to Project Soup
  • Dining hall dishes get taken back to the dining halls!
  • Textiles (old clothing, sheets, linens, towels, etc.) go to Bay State Textiles, where 50% of the textiles are recycled for reuse, 30% are turned into wiping cloths, and 20% are recycled into new items. Joannie and Tina with all of the textiles donations!
  • Plastic bags are taken to Whole Foods who then deliver them to Trex, an outdoor decking and living products company. Trex converts used plastic film into new, environmentally responsible outdoor products!

Although we are happy to help minimize waste that will go to landfills through our move-out initiative, we also want to remind you that the best way to reduce waste would simply be to purchase fewer items, especially if you are not certain you will use them! You would be surprised by how many unopened packages we found of various miscellaneous items, as well as clothes and shoes that seemed barely worn.

Nonetheless, everything that was donated will be put to good use, and we hope that those who will be returning to school in the fall will stop by the Green House’s Back To School Sale – there will be many great items sold at significantly discounted prices (lots of dorm furniture, some coffee makers, a pair of Hunter boots and some North Face down jackets in good condition, just to name a few)!

Zero Waste and BYOP at the 2018 Medford President’s Picnic

Wednesday was a picture-perfect day for promoting sustainability on the Medford campus! President Monaco hosted another picnic on the Medford campus. Faculty, staff, students and new graduates gathered to eat a delicious lunch provided by Tufts catering and enjoyed the beautiful day outside.

To make the picnic a zero-waste event, staff from the Office of Sustainability helped attendees sort recyclable and compostable items at the numerous zero-waste stations located throughout the venue.

Catering also helped with sustainability efforts by providing condiments and drinks in bulk, as opposed to the smaller, individual packages that are commonly seen at such events. This helps reduce packaging waste produced by the event.

Plastic film and bags will be recycled separately at Whole Foods

In addition to the standard recycling collected at all zero-waste events, plastic film and bags were collected separately to be recycled at Whole Foods!

In order to take our sustainability efforts a step further, we promoted the event as BYOP – Bring Your Own Place-Setting. While using compostable and recyclable items are a great first step to reducing waste, bringing your own place setting from home or work helps reduce waste even more efficiently.

The first 90 attendees who visited the Office of Sustainability’s table had the opportunity to show the plates, knives, forks, and cups they had brought with them to claim a free, reusable sandwich bag as well as an “I saved a Tree” sticker. To our delight and surprise, we ran out of the sandwich bags after just twenty minutes!

Everyone who had a complete place setting was also invited to participate in our raffle to win an insulated, multi-compartmental, bento-style lunchbox. Over 140 people entered our raffle!

The grand prize of the raffle -- a cool lunchbox!

We loved seeing the diversity of the place settings people brought with them, and couldn’t be happier with the number of people who enthusiastically stopped by our table.

Folks with their own plates and silverware

Head to our Facebook page to see all the photos of everyone who stopped by our table on Wednesday with their place settings.

If you are a faculty, student, or staff at the Boston or Grafton campuses, be sure to bring your own plates, cups, knives, and forks to the President’s lunches next month for a chance to get a reusable sandwich bag and to enter our raffle for the grand prize lunch box! For everyone at Medford, thanks for helping make the event a sustainable one, and we hope to see you next year.

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