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Danielle Jenkins | Greenwise

An inconvenient sleuth

Published: Friday, April 26, 2013

Updated: Friday, April 26, 2013 00:04


About three months ago, I began writing “Greenwise” for the Tufts Daily. The column was an idea I got from a friend who had asked me a number of questions about sustainability during our time here at Tufts. She reminded me that just because this knowledge has been presented to me day in and day out does not mean that it has been provided to everyone else. There is a lot confusion regarding the best ways to live sustainably, and people are forced to choose between sustainable and unsustainable options every day, oftentimes without all of the necessary information. How is a person to know every detail about their impact without studying it in depth, and without really digging deeper into the issues?

I have always known that I wanted to study the environment. I was able to use my time well at this school. I came in and instantly began taking environmental classes. I have spent the past four years at Tufts studying this material, digging into it and analyzing the facts.

Earlier this spring, I realized that I had barely a semester left at Tufts, and that what knowledge I had spent the past four years gaining would come with me, benefiting no one but myself. So I dug deeper still and began to develop this column. In my studies, I have come across issues involving plastics, transportation emissions, water rights, waste management and wildlife conservation, among so many more. Not all students can dig as deeply into these issues, especially when they are asked to fulfill so many credits for their major, to find a job and to be an active citizen. By taking what I like to think of as the road less traveled — a double major in English and environmental studies — I have been given the resources that a student with a non-environmental full courseload might not come across. In short, I hope that you have found this information helpful, and that it has opened your mind to a few of the ways to live sustainably.

I have been lucky enough to have a publication like the Daily that is willing to produce my sometimes-mindless environmental babble. They have provided me with a conduit to disseminate my environmental sleuthing. Now I say to you, dear reader, take what I have told you and dig deeper. Anyone and everyone is an environmentalist, and I do not care if some people consider it a “dirty” word. Environmentalist is as environmentalist does. If you have ever recycled, I call you an environmentalist. If you have ever admired how beautiful springtime is, you are an environmentalist. If you have turned off the faucet while brushing your teeth, put an apple core in the compost, taken the time to go for a walk outside, recycled your notebooks or biked instead of driven then you, my friend, are an environmentalist.

I may not be here to write a column next semester, but I hope I have created a whole army of inconvenient sleuths who are willing to dig deeper. These sleuths will look into these issues, question what information is presented and then presently disregard that information if it is not up to their high environmental standards. When someone tells you that organic is better, ask in what way; when a company says its product is greener, ask them how; when a columnist says that she is only going to eat horsemeat, ask her, “Really?” Your own research will tell you more than my column ever could. Dig deep, my friends; the soil underneath is rich.


Danielle Jenkins is a senior majoring in English and environmental studies. She can be reached at

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