Tag: waste reduction (page 1 of 2)

Update on Recycling Rules – Throw Out Colored Cups, But Recycle Clear Plastic Cups

Due to shifts in global recycling systems and high contamination levels of U.S. recyclable materials, the Massachusetts DEP has recently announced new recycling rules. One major change is that colored plastic cups will no longer be accepted in our recycling stream. However, clear plastic cups will still be taken. To avoid accidentally ending up with a colored cup, be sure to bring your own reusable cup the next time you buy a beverage on the go!

For details on the rules, view the visual guide below and check out the DEP’s website on their new guidelines.

Empty, Clean, and Dry

Items that can be recycled such as hard plastic containers, yogurt cups and plastic bottles and jugs (with the caps on) as well as glass bottles MUST be emptied, cleaned, and dried before being placed in a recycling bin. Please do not put any items with food, food residue, or liquid still in them in the recycling bins.

Plastic Bags are NOT recyclable

Any kind of plastic film or plastic bags can not be placed in the recycling bins. This includes grocery bags, bubble wrap, flexible plastic packaging, saran wrap, zip lock bags, and styrofoam. These items get caught in the machinery used in sorting facilities and can cause breakdowns and even worker injuries.

Other items that are NOT accepted as recycling

These items go to the landfill. Do NOT place these items in the recycling bins.

Paper items

  • paper towels
  • paper plates
  • tissues
  • cups (with lids)

Cardboard

  • greasy pizza box bottoms
  • juice and milk cartons

Plastic (even with recycling symbol)

  • colored plastic cups
  • plastic bags and plastic wrap
  • chip bags
  • styrofoam
  • plastic utensils
  • foil-lined energy bars – brings these to a terracycle bin (locations on our Eco-Map) instead!

Glass

  • lightbulbs – bring incandescent and CFL light bulbs to 550 Boston Ave. to have them replaced for LED light bulbs!
  • broken glass

When in doubt, throw it out

It may seem counterintuitive to throw something out in order to support sustainability. However, it is much better to throw something out if you are unsure it can be recycled rather than contaminate the recycling with materials that can not be recycled. Please refer to the infographic below, but when in doubt, throw it out.

In addition, do not rely on the triangular recycling symbol found on many products. This symbol signifies that the material used in the product are physically able be recycled, but that does not meant that the waste infrastructure in your specific community  has the capacity to recycle them.

For example, the sorting facility where recyclables from Tufts end up can not accept plastic bags, as they can damage the sorting equipment. However, companies like Trex take plastic bags and have a separate, special sorting facility where they can turn those bags into recycled outdoor decking materials and products.

 

Tips for a Sustainable Move-In

With August fast approaching, it is getting to be that time of year when students start thinking about moving in to their Tufts residence for the upcoming school year!

Whether you are a returning student or a incoming first-year student, the Office of Sustainability has a few tips to make your move-in a greener one! Read on for details, and some PSAs from our Recycling Fellow.

Only Bring What You Need

This one is self-explanatory, but it’s an important one! The less you bring, the less packaging you’ll waste. In addition, it may be one less box to ship if you’re moving in from far away.

At the end of the year, so many items are left behind during move-out, which may signify that students are bringing/purchasing too many unnecessary items.

Wait On Big Purchases

Definitely wait to check-in with your room/house-mates about bringing large items to campus. If you wait to discuss logistics, you may be able to split the costs for many purchases and save a lot of money.

Additionally, you may be able to find more affordable options for some dorm room items once you get to campus (see below).

Buy Used

Don’t miss out on the second annual Blue and Brown Pass It Down Sale hosted by Tufts Green House! Many items collected during the Spring Move-Out will be available to purchase at the lowest prices around. This is a great place to get lamps, rugs, hangers, and other items you might need for your dorm room.

Additionally, Tufts Buy/Sell/Trade is a private Facebook Group for those with tufts.edu email addresses to exchange items, where many useful items are often posted.

Ditch Cardboard Boxes

Why use a cardboard box when you could use items you need to bring with you anyways, such as backpacks, duffel bags, suitcases, laundry bins and other containers. Not only will you reduce waste, you’ll also save space!

If you need to use cardboard boxes (if you are shipping items, for example), consider breaking them down and storing them under your bed until move-out. View the Recycling Fellow PSA below about cardboard box recycling for more reasons to ditch the boxes.

Replace Your Lightbulbs

Bring any incandescent lightbulbs to the Office of Sustainability at 550 Boston Ave and we will replace them with LED light bulbs, free of charge.

This is a part of an effort to reduce energy emissions from Tufts campuses. LED lights last much longer than incandescent lightbulbs, but are often much pricier. Definitely take advantage of this sweet deal!

Recycling Fellow PSAs:

Please bring any recyclables associated with your move-in to a recycling dumpster. There will be signs indicating the locations of the nearest dumpster to each dorm. You can also view our online Eco-Map for outdoor recycling locations.

If you have any questions about what can or can’t be recycled, please ask one of the Eco-Reps who will be walking around the dorms.

Please do not discard cardboard boxes in any location in the dorms. You must bring broken down cardboard boxes to the nearest recycling dumpster (locations will be indicated on signs posted in each dorm). If you don’t bring or discard cardboard boxes you won’t have to make this trek, as an added incentive to follow our tips above!

Plastic bags and film cannot be recycled through the regular recycling stream. Please do not place these in the recycling dumpsters. Look out for signage regarding designated bins for plastic film recycling.

 

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 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)!

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