Tufts’ New Green Machines!

Rice! Paper towels! Lint! Things you can find in your belly button? No! (Well, maybe). Things you can compost? Yes!

This and many other Public Service Announcements will be coming to bathroom stalls, dorm bulletin boards, and other surfaces all over campus courtesy of the Tufts Eco-Reps… We’re back! Did you miss us?

The Tufts Eco-Reps are a group of students from different dorms on campus who want to raise awareness about ecological issues, encourage environmentally responsible behavior, and plan green events and activities. We Eco-Reps also organize group activities, collaborative projects, and send representation to the Eco-Reps Program at various campus events. The Eco-Reps received training at the beginning of the semester and now attend weekly meetings to plan our program.

While we have been on hiatus since 2007, we are working hard this semester to reestablish our presence on campus by making students aware of our mission. We are holding dorm events, creating a green dorm room checklist, and reminding people why Eco-Reps should be a part of the campus. Considering the Eco-Reps program started in 2000 by Tufts’ very own Anja Kollmuss as part of her master’s thesis and has since spread to fifty-five colleges, it seems strange that it disappeared in the first place.

Then again, considering the on-campus environmental culture—or lack thereof—it is not so surprising that Eco-Reps has taken a temporary back seat to other campus groups.

Tufts is known for its passion for active citizenship and global leadership, and this is the image that the university promotes. We are not a campus known for caring about conservation or for being a particularly “green” institution. “Going green” here at Tufts seems to be more of an afterthought. Sadly, an active enthusiasm for environmentalism is just not ingrained in Tufts culture.

We recently received a ‘B’ from the Sustainable Endowment Institute (SEI) in sustainability rating, and no one is talking about it… yet. Even though this rating is a misrepresentation of our efforts as a university based on vague policies and an unclear ranking system, what is truly bothersome is that no one seems to know that we were rated in the first place. Other than an article in the Daily which has received no comments online, there has been little on-campus interest or discussion concerning the issue. Why is that? Enough talk about sexiled roommates and the dangers of walking around campus; what about the very real dangers of climate change and acid rain?

Enter the Eco-Reps. Although we would like to think of ourselves as a clandestine group of Earth Warriors infiltrating the minds of Tufts students and causing them to slowly become greener and greener, the reality is much simpler: we have formed to aid those who bounce between TMC, TIE, ECO, TWO, and TCI in search of environmentalism. Though the program is still relatively small, hopefully all Tufts students living on campus will soon be aware of their Eco-Representative and will start utilizing their rep in order to help bring Tufts up to its green potential. Using the framework set out by the program that originated at Tufts as a platform, we are now a piloting a new initiative to promote ecologically minded behavior. As employees of the Office of Sustainability, we resist the temptation to guerilla-flier bathroom stalls with unapproved information (although I am not saying it has not happened!) and instead organize events and work within the dorms to green our campus. Watch out… We just might be greening you.

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