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by Danielle Cotter

The class of 2015 was admitted to Tufts in its strongest undergraduate admissions cycle yet, and on their first day on the hill, they learned how to compost.

This year’s matriculation meals were almost completely compost-friendly; plates and napkins were compostable, and the menu was made up of primarily vegan selections, which made the process easier for all involved (avoiding meat and cheese is the way to go). Plastic water bottles were given out at the event, but parents and students were very mindful about recycling them!

The utensils used at both meals were made of bio-plastics; unfortunately, these were thrown in the trash because the company that processes our compost does not accept bio-plastics.  Other contaminants such as salad dressing bottles were kept in a separate container away from the buffet, so waste from that was minimal. Some campus groups tried to hand out candy during the matriculation lunch, but we asked them to not do this on the lawn because those candy wrappers could have contaminated the compost!

Tufts Recycles! workers were scattered across the president’s lawn at both the matriculation luncheon and the opening night dinner to lend a hand to freshmen and their parents who were composting their food waste. This year, matriculation ceremonies were nearly zero waste (while the ice cream truck at dinner served some delicious treats, the plastic wrappers impeded us from achieving our goal this year).

And now, for the grand totals from the two events!

During the matriculation lunch, 45 bags of compost were sent to Save that Stuff!, weighing a total of 900 pounds. There were also 10 bags of trash at the end of lunch; there was 300 pounds of trash combined. There was also one truck filled with four yards worth of cardboard from the boxes that many of the food came in. During the opening night dinner, we composted a total of 1000 pounds of food. There was about 500 pounds of trash collected from this event. We also composted 25 bags of composted plates and napkins that collectively weighed 500 pounds. As during the lunch, there was also one truck filled with four yards worth of cardboard from this event.