As you know, if you have been reading this blog for a while, I have a love-hate relationship with Tufts. Last year was not so good for me, but this year I am having a wonderful time, mainly because I have been getting a lot more involved in extracurriculars. I am in the musical (“Urinetown”) and in gospel choir (so fun!!), and joined The Observer, Tufts’ weekly magazine. I had planned to just do copy editing, but then they found out about this blog and contacted me about writing a feature on sustainability at Tufts.
Now, this task intrigued me. I had always been curious as to how green Tufts is, because they publicize it as being very green but I had never really known the details. Well. I can honestly say that I was pleasantly surprised by my research. I had no idea about half of the things Tufts is doing for sustainability!
In terms of energy, Tufts is committed to meeting the Kyoto Protocol, which asks for a 7 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below the 1990 rate by 2012; the New England Governors Action Plan, which calls for a 10 percent reduction below the 1990 rate by 2020 and a 75-80 percent long-term reduction; and the Chicago Climate Exchange, which calls for a 1 percent reduction below base rate each year. Impressive, right?
Tufts is working to make the big changes that will produce lasting effects, which includes the use of solar power in new buildings. As of a year ago, Tufts had decreased energy use 5,901,396 kWh (equivalent to powering 379 houses for an entire year) and had prevented 3,252 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
The university is also committed to a strong recycling and composting system. In fact, it is generally easier to find a recycling bin than a trash can around here. And dining services composts about half a ton of food every day. Good, no? Not to mention that most of the vegetarian food is organic and/or locally grown, and the meat comes from free-range chicken, grass-fed beef, and from sustainable fisheries. At all food places on campus there is also at least one Fair Trade coffee option.
And last but not least, I learned a lot about cleaning and maintenance at Tufts. I was very nervous to find out just how chemical-filled the cleaning products that clean my bathroom and hallways are. Very nervous. And yet even the cleaning products are just about as good as you can get! I was so relieved. Tufts employs the janitorial staff through One Source, which uses Alpha HP Multi-Surface Cleaner. This cleaning product has the Green Seal of approval, which is the best you can ask for (with no, or at least a highly reduced number of, toxic cancer-causing chemicals).
And as for the lawns? Two acres of lawn and the baseball field are completely organic–no herbicides or pesticides. Now that they’ve seen that organic works, they’re working to make the switch so that all of the land will be organically treated.
In other words, I’m impressed, as are many publications: Tufts is on Sierra Magazine’s top 10 green schools, Grist Magazine’s top 15 green schools, and in the New York Times’ list of schools that are making a difference, green-wise. It is tipping my love-hate relationship with Tufts more towards the love side. I just feel so much safer knowing that the school I go to is just about as green as colleges get.
Note to self: Yay, Tufts!
Lily Berthold-Bond grew up in a chemical-free zone and has struggled her whole life to understand and accept this non-commercial lifestyle. Now a sophomore at Tufts University, she has embraced her green life and hopes to share its possibilities with the rest of her generation.