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This student initiatives stemmed from the Fall 2009 Environmental Action: Shifting from Saying to Doing ex-college class.





For 2010 Tufts Energy Conference poster session

In 1990 Tufts University President Jean Mayer held a conference for 22 universities in Talloires, France and created a declaration that institutions of higher learning would be world leaders in developing, creating, supporting and maintaining sustainability efforts. In recognition of this world renowned commitment we explored how we could promote undergraduate individual behavior to reduce Tufts’ environmental footprint. It was found that Trayless Dining was one such campus-wide policy that had greatly reduced food, water, and energy waste at many universities as well as increased awareness of environmental issues. It was hypothesized that at Tufts not only would trayless dining result in an overall decrease in the use of natural resources but it would also affect student perception of their personal environmental responsibility. A sample of students entering the Carmichael dining hall the week before the trays were removed was surveyed about their perceptions of trayless dining or environmental social responsibility. The same method was used again to survey students during the trayless pilot program. In addition to being presented here, these data will be used to assist Tufts’ Dining Services make a longer term policy decision in regards to trayless dining.

UPDATE: Tufts Dining Services removed trays in the dinning halls starting in May after a 13-day trial of the idea at the Carmichael. Read more

trayless 2 

UPDATE: Tufts Dining has gone trayless at Carmichael and Dewick-MacPhie Dining Centers after a successful Pilot Program in Carmichael during the spring of 2010. In the Pilot Program, food waste was reduced by 30% and electricity use was reduced by 17.5%.

Tufts University President Larry Bacow expressed his enthusiastic support stating, “This is the right thing to do on so many levels. This was a student initiative that will save water, energy, and food and reduce waste. As a university that is committed to sustainability, we ought to be leaders, not followers in this area.”

To facilitate the switch to trayless dining, several changes have been made. New larger 12oz cups have replaced the 8oz cups, silverware has been moved near the plates to make it more convenient, and the tray return area has solid shelves to make it easier to return dishes. Read more

To see the positive effects trayless dining has on energy use and food waste, explore the trayless dining poster.


  • Final Proposal –  presented to Tufts Dining Services 12/2009 
  • Poster – presented at the 2010 Tufts Energy Conference, the April Open House, Earth Fest and the Environmental Action End of Year Celebration with Pres. Bacow. 

Media Attention

The efforts of this class caught the attention of campus media:

Mentions in Student Senate Meetings (PDF):

Picked up by others: