Green Ideas into Action

bees in a beehive

A plan to bolster pollinator health on the Medford/Somerville campus and an Edible Insect Festival are two of the innovative ideas recently funded by the Tufts Green Fund.

The Tufts Green Fund provides up to $40,000 in funding annually to innovative ideas submitted by students, faculty, and staff. Selection criteria for projects include environmental impact, social impact, feasibility, and the ability to measure success.

Recently, Green Fund administrators reviewed thirty-five proposals and awarded a total of $30,000 to sustainability projects for and from the Tufts community. Below are the awards made this year.

Tufts Food Security Assessment. This research assessment of food insecurity and security at Tufts is spearheaded by Madeleine Clarke, A20 (Department of Community Health), and Marissa Donohue, A19 (Department of Anthropology). In their proposal, Clarke and Donohue outlined a research- and action-oriented project that explores the food security status of the Tufts community. Its scope includes connecting work now done by the Tufts Food Rescue Collaborative with demonstrated on-campus need, potentially in the form of a dedicated on-campus food pantry. A Tufts Food Security Assessment would detail valuable action steps to close the cycle of waste within the Tufts campus, “ending the paradox of food waste and food want,” they said.  

Edible Insect Festival. Insects are rapidly gaining momentum as a more sustainable protein source than traditional livestock. In partnership with Joseph Yoon, chef and founder of Brooklyn Bugs, the event on April 17 and 18 includes workshops, cooking demos, and a multi-course tasting dinner. The Tufts community is invited. The proposal was submitted by Sara Lewis, a professor of biology, who noted that human populations are set to expand beyond nine billion by 2050, and “we need to devise new ways to feed everyone.” Raising livestock for consumption, she went on, is a food production system “that not only threatens biodiversity, but is also inefficient and generates climate-disrupting greenhouse gases.”   

Glove Recycling from Research Labs. This pilot program would establish a recycling stream on the Medford and Grafton campuses for the non-hazardous nitrile gloves made out of synthetic rubber, which are currently disposed of in landfills. “A study at UC Santa Cruz found that these gloves made up a majority of their laboratories’ landfill-bound waste,” according to the proposal submitted by Breanna Duffy, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. “These nitrile gloves could instead be recycled into new items such as park benches, frisbees, flower pots, or shelving.”

SMFA Health, Safety, and Sustainability Day. This event, on April 18, honors the late Julie Graham, a professor at the SMFA and painter and photographer who died in August from lung cancer. Eight workshops on issues of sustainability, health, and safety will address relevant histories and dialogues in science, art, and manufacturing; innovative approaches to art materials and methods; and access to tips and ideas on sustainable and safe practices in art studios.  Ethan Murrow, professor or the practice and chair of the SMFA Department of Painting, submitted the proposal, in which he described the community event as honoring a beloved colleague and raising the bar for sustainable art practices. On April 18, he said “the entire school will stop its normal day to day functions for three hours. We will eat a zero-waste meal and learn from invited contemporary artists who are using reusable materials and non-toxic methods or building community driven projects that highlight issues of climate change, consumption, and health.”

Tufts Pollinator Initiative. The Tufts Pollinator Initiative is envisioned as an educational, ecological, and collaborative plan to bolster pollinator health and promote community awareness on the Medford/Somerville campus. Nicholas Dorian, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biology, submitted the proposal, in which he cited the urgent need to save bees. “Worldwide pollinator declines threaten food security and ecosystem health,” he wrote. “The importance of local solutions to this global problem, such as planting native flowers and reducing pesticide use, has been widely documented.” Within two years, the Tufts Pollinator Initiative aims to—among other things—showcase pollinator-friendly plants on the Tufts campus, cultivate a pollinator-friendly perennial garden, and integrate pollinator habitat discussions into interdisciplinary courses. 

Donations are accepted to the Green Fund here.

Laura Ferguson can be reached at

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