Sustainability at Brock

  • Experiential Education in a Virtual Year

    Blog Contributor: Shannon Ruzgys

    2020 orientation

    In an academic year quite unlike any other, the first year Master of Sustainability students experienced experiential education in a very different form, the virtual kind. Three virtual experiential education components took place in SSAS 5P01 (Foundations of Sustainability Science and Society), focusing on sustainability at Brock, UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, and the ESRC’s innovative partnerships.

    Sustainability at Brock usually would have involved a tour of Brock’s Central Utilities Building, but instead involved Mary Quintana (Director, Asset Management & Utilities) and Amanda Smits (ESRC Centre Administrator) virtually joining the class to discuss how Brock is committed to sustainability through management of facilities. The students were virtually walked through Brock’s District Energy Efficiency Project (DEEP), which involved replacing old co-generation engines with state-of-the-art energy efficient units. The students were walked through how this project had increased energy efficiency and lowered Brock’s carbon emissions, helping the university stay on track with their sustainability targets. The students were also introduced to the sustainability initiatives on campus through BU Sustainable, including the @busustainableInstagram and other social media platforms. Even though the students couldn’t walk the underground tunnels of Brock instead, they still got to learn and experience all of the ways in which Brock is currently enacting sustainability every single day through a virtual presentation.

    The second experiential education component focused on UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, including the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve, a reserve in which Brock University is situated. The students were virtually joined by Dr. Liette Vasseur who is a faculty member at Brock University and Lisa Grbinicek, a Senior Strategic Advisor at the Niagara Escarpment Commission. Through their presentations we were taught about the Ontario’s Greenbelt, UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, and natures contributions to people. The discussion was kicked off by highlighting the vast expanse that is the Greenbelt, which is 1.8 million acres of protected land spread across Ontario, including the Niagara Escarpment. The unique biodiversity within the Niagara Escarpment was discussed, including thousand-year-old trees, rare flora, and multitudes of mammals, birds, and reptiles. The students learned about the early plans put in place to protect the greenbelt and its designation as a biosphere reserve in 1990. From there, new developments in UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserves were discussed, including the ongoing conversation around the colonial implications of the term and the aim to change the term to Biosphere Region. The students also got to learn about ongoing developments in the field of biodiversity, including the differences between ecosystem services and natures contribution to people. Overall, the students got to hear from two professionals who have spent years in the field, protecting and researching biodiversity, and got to learn about the natural wonders that surround Brock.

    The final educational component highlighted the innovative community partnerships in the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC). While in any other year this would have involved the students visiting these partnerships in person through an interactive field trip, instead this course component took place virtually this year. The students were joined by Ryan Plummer (Director of the ESRC), Amanda Smits (ESRC Centre Administrator) and Erica Harper (a second year SASS student and ESRC co-op student). The students were walked through each of these partnerships and learned how the ESRC is actively integrating transdisciplinary research into the surrounding community. The ESRC is currently involved in 8 community partnerships, including the Brock Lincoln Living Lab, Niagara Adapts, Trail Assets and Tourism, and a new Living Planet @ Campus partnership with WWF. As transdisciplinary research is a pillar of the SASS program and the ESRC, it was very important for the students to experience how the centre is integrating the transdisciplinary approach into their own partnerships. So, while the students did not get to visit these partnerships, they were still able to experience and learn about all of the work that the ESRC is doing within the community and learn about these partnerships.

    In a virtual year, experiential education can be a difficult thing to accomplish but the SASS students were still able to learn about and experience all of the ways in which sustainability is lived out at Brock, including through the facilities management, Brock’s place in a Biosphere Reserve, and the ESRC’s innovative partnerships.

    Categories: Blog, Experiential Education, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Program, SSAS Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • 2020 Innovative Partnership Year-in-Reviews

    As 2020 comes to an end, we are reflecting on the accomplishments that have been made and important goals that have been achieved through our innovative partnerships. This year was full of ups and downs for the global community and the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre at Brock was not immune to these turbulent times.

    However, we are proud that we were still able to launch three innovative partnerships to assist in moving forward issues of global importance. We worked with our existing partners to achieve important goals in order to showcase the importance of sustainability in our constantly changing world. We believe that the work put in by our partners this year is a true testament to their resilience and willingness to persevere through the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Click on each partnership year-in-review below to learn more about what we’ve all been up to this past year!

    Brock-Lincoln Living Lab

    Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative

    Charter with Facilities Management

    Niagara Adapts

    Trails, Assets, and Tourism Initiative

    Partnership for Freshwater Resilience

    The Prudhommes Project

     

    Categories: Blog, Brock Lincoln Living Lab, Environmental Stewardship Initiative, Innovative Partnership, Niagara Adapts, Prudhommes Project, Sustainability at Brock

  • Interview with SSAS Co-op Students

    Our Master of Sustainability students have been hard at work during the summer and fall terms to complete their co-ops and major research papers. In this blog post, we interview four students who have either completed their co-op or are expected to complete it in the coming weeks. They will introduce their respective roles, responsibilities, how their courses in the SSAS program contributed to their success throughout their co-op placements, as well as how their role enriched their understanding of sustainability. The featured students are Pulkit Garg, Samantha Gauthier, Erica Harper, and Michaela Jennings and they will provide you with an idea of the various co-op roles available for Master of Sustainability candidates.

    Pulkit Garg

    Your title and the company you work for: ​Project Manager, Co-op at RBC

    What are the main duties or the projects you’ve been working on? As the lead project manager for a regulatory project to serve Seniors (ages: 60+), I fulfilled a wide array of responsibilities including:

    • Leading and overseeing all project activities throughout the term
    • Developing and defining project deliverables
    • Building the project schedule, implementation plan, assessing business requirements, and conducting project reviews
    • Identifying and resolving project issues and risks
    • Determining when and how to escalate issues accordingly
    • Establishing and maintaining strong relationships with Sponsors, Senior Business Leads, third-party vendors, and other core members to meet project deliverables
    • Providing ongoing support – generating alternative solutions to the initially proposed recommendation when issues arise

    How did your course work in the Master of Sustainability program contribute to the success you experienced in your co-op role? The SSAS program has been pivotal to the success of my co-op because of its transdisciplinary and experiential nature involving complex problem solving, teamwork, and leadership. More importantly, the course on Project Management during the Winter 2020 term (SSAS 5P03) played a key role in my success at RBC as it provided a first-hand PM experience through a course consulting project, where we were tasked with addressing Lincoln’s irrigation concerns. Finally, my Masters’ research project (MRP) has taught me resilience and the importance of openness to feedback and continuous learning, along with research/analytical capabilities.

    What was one thing/lesson you learned this summer that you hope to bring into your career? It is okay to feel uncomfortable and it is okay to fail. The important thing is to learn continuously and be open to feedback.

    How did your co-op role enrich your understanding of sustainability? ​My Co-op helped me to move out of the myopic view of sustainability that often gets regarded as “environmental sustainability”. Through a regulatory project aimed at improving banking services and safeguarding one of the most vulnerable segments of our society (seniors), I could leverage my sustainability background to improve the social and economic sustainability at a macro scale. My co-op also helped me to realize the important role that corporates (and specifically banks) can play in improving the sustainability in Canada.

    Sam Gauthier

    Your title and the company you work for: This summer, my placement as a survey student and inspector took place at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

    What are the main duties or the projects you’ve been working on? During my placement I was responsible for two different surveys. The first survey was looking for invasive pests, such as the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA). This took me to many beautiful places in the forests surrounding the Niagara region, and I even got to explore many of the local waterfalls. The second survey I was responsible for was looking at the peach and plum orchards sampling trees for Plum Pox Virus (PPV).

    How did your work relate to sustainability? Both of these surveys relate to sustainability through the health of ecosystems and of the people of Niagara. The spread of pests and viruses such as both the HWA and PPV can have detrimental effects to ecosystems, people, and even the economy. By monitoring these issues and managing outbreaks it allows us to maintain healthy environments and control future outbreaks.

    How did being a student in the SSAS program contribute to your success in your co-op role? Being a student in the SSAS program has given me the skills to be able to adapt to new situations. This co-op placement was unfamiliar to me but being a student in the SSAS program taught me how to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills to adapt to new roles and work through tasks that are unfamiliar to me.

    What was one thing/lesson you learned this summer that you hope to bring into your career? One thing that I took away from my co-op in relation to my career is to be open minded when looking for future job prospects. My co-op role was in a field that I am not familiar with (agriculture), but I learnt a lot and really enjoyed my time there. It will allow me to be more flexible when looking and applying for future jobs.

    How did your co-op role enrich your understanding of sustainability? My co-op role allowed me to enrich my understanding of sustainability through a different lens. It showed me that sustainability is used in many positions and that the opportunities are endless. This showed me that sustainability is a growing field and is needed in all industries in order to be successful.

     

    Erica Harper

    Erica Harper

    Your title and the company you work for: Sustainability Communications Specialist, The Environmental Sustainability Research Centre – Brock University

    What are the main duties or the projects you’ve been working on? As a Sustainability Communications Specialist, I have a wide variety of responsibilities. For example, I am responsible for developing email, blog, and social media communications on behalf of the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre. These communications are sent to SSAS students, our community partners, as well as guest speakers for the virtual events that we host. Since I have marketing background, I have been involved in advertising the SSAS program through social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. One project that I’ve been working on is developing a “best practices” document for stakeholder communication during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    How did your course work in the Master of Sustainability program contribute to the success you experienced in your co-op role? My course work, specifically what I learned through my MRP, Foundations of Sustainability Science (SSAS 5P01), and Climate Change Adaptation (SSAS 5P12), has helped me to communicate complex topics in accessible language. These courses taught me how to write in a way that is effective and appropriate for the target audience, which is an essential skill in any communications role. Thanks to the courses I took in my first year of my master’s program, I am confident in my abilities to successfully tailor my communications about upcoming events, social media campaigns, and “best practices” in an online world to a wide variety of people.

    What was one thing/lesson you learned this summer that you hope to bring into your career? Throughout this co-op (and this entire year), I learned that it’s important to plan but it’s also important to go with the flow when your plan does not materialise. I have always been someone who likes to know exactly what will happen at a given event or meeting but completing my co-op during a global pandemic has changed my perspective. I am now an even more adaptable colleague who can rapidly shift my plan on the spot depending on changing situations within and outside the organization. I’m excited about bringing my skills of adaptability and problem-solving that I have developed through this experience into my career moving forward.

    How did your co-op role enrich your understanding of sustainability? My co-op role is directly related to implementing environmental sustainability at the local and community levels, which was very rewarding for me. It enriched my understanding of sustainability by providing me with the opportunities to connect with professionals in the field of sustainability through networking and attending conferences such as one hosted by the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). These experiences allowed me to gain a more well-rounded appreciation for sustainability and how I can affect change at the local, governmental, and organizational levels.

    Michaela Jennings

    Michaela Jennings

    Your title and the company you work for: Research Assistant, Environmental Sustainability Resource Centre- Niagara Adapts

    What are the main duties or the projects you’ve been working on? I have been working with the partners to help them in creating their Climate Change Adaptation plans, which will be implemented in their community. My tasks include, providing feedback, research materials, drafts, templates, and assisting in creating materials for the workshops Niagara Adapts provides for their partners. In this position I have also been working with the partners and the Brock Team to create a stakeholder engagement piece. This will be able to provide the partners to engage with their community and staff in order help them in the planning process.

    How did your course work in the Master of Sustainability program contribute to the success you experienced in your co-op role? Many of my courses, including my MRP term over the summer, have been useful in providing me with an understanding of the different elements of sustainability and society, but also the methods and tools that are useful. My role has been greatly impacted by what I had learnt in 5P12 Climate Change Adaptation and Transformation. This course provided the groundwork and the hands-on experience that introduced us to creating a municipal plan. This course, paired with the others in the program, have allowed for me to expand on what I learnt and apply it in real-world settings.

    What was one thing/lesson you learned this summer (Fall) that you hope to bring into your career? I have learned that sometimes things do not go according to plan, and you have to be adaptable and be able to think of solutions. This is beneficial for me in my future career because I will have developed stronger problem-solving skills, which allow for me to look at situations a bit differently, and will it be beneficial in any role.

    How did your co-op role enrich your understanding of sustainability? My co-op has allowed for me to be engaged in a variety of approaches to sustainability. From academic, political, and a consulting point of view. Each has increased my understanding of a different element of sustainability, and primarily the real-world possibilities that exist beyond the classroom.

     

    As you can see, since the students in our Master of Sustainability program have such a diverse educational background, there are a wide variety of co-op roles available for them in fields such as banking, education, and ecology. To learn more about the Master of Sustainability program at Brock, click here.

    Categories: Blog, Co-Op, Niagara Adapts, SSAS Program, Sustainability at Brock

  • Green Infrastructure and Low Impact Development: Expert Perspectives

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    On October 22nd, the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre hosted their second Sustainability Seminar Series event of the term. The event consisted of a panel discussion with three professionals in the green infrastructure and low impact design space with decades of rich experiences and knowledge bases. The panelists were: Safdar Abidi, Principal, Practice Leader at Perkins and Will, Dr. Janani Sivarajah, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, Brock University and Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, and Paul Leitch, Director, Environmental Sustainability Services at Blackstone Energy Services.

    The panel kicked off with an important question – “what do ‘low impact’ and ‘sustainability’ mean to you?”. This question allowed the panelists to provide the audience members with their perspective and lens when it comes to working in the low impact development and green infrastructure industry. The responses varied greatly, but one common theme was that sustainability and low impact design need to be synonymous with social, ecological, and economical resilience. Another key aspect of sustainability that Dr Sivarajah, Mr. Abidi, and Mr. Leitch pointed out was that buildings and designs must be “low impact” not only for humans, but animals, plants, and all other ecological systems for us all to thrive.

    The second questions asked panelists to identify challenges that they perceive as roadblocks to implementing low impact development and green infrastructure. Mr. Leitch highlighted that many facilities and organizations have conflicting priorities that get in the way of integrating green infrastructure and low impact development, but that we must properly communicate the benefits of sustainable design for it to be implemented “from the boiler room to the board room”. Additionally, Mr. Abidi stated that as long as we see sustainability as an optional choice instead of a priority, we will not be able to move forward in terms of green infrastructure and low impact development and we must debunk the myth that “climate change is a subjective issue”. Lastly, Dr. Sivarajah mentioned that sustainable design is often an afterthought and we try to fit it in after the “grey” infrastructure is set. Dr. Sivarajah also stated that we need to go back to our roots, making sure that low impact development and green infrastructure are planned from the onset of a development with transdisciplinary perspectives as stakeholders must work together to implement radical green infrastructure.

    The event’s last question allowed the audience to get a glimpse into how the experienced panelists view the future of low impact development and green infrastructure. To begin, Mr. Abidi explained that the pandemic has provided humans with a strong signal to take a step back and reflect on the value of being part of a community. For a thriving community, we must have the following: healthier and active lifestyles, equity in terms of access to public spaces, and community building. Dr. Sivarajah drove home the importance of planning urban spaces with intention and in a holistic manner that accounts for accessibility, equity, and sustainability for all living beings. Lastly, Mr. Leitch believes that although the transition towards prioritizing low impact development and green infrastructure will be a gradual one, as behavioural changes expand, green infrastructure and low impact development will become expected standards that offer great benefits tied to wellbeing.

    The panel discussion concluded with each professional’s closing statement for audience members. Mr. Leitch stated the importance of generating solutions for complex issues in a “people-oriented way” and to hold strong when it comes to our path with sustainability in school and in our careers. Additionally, Dr. Sivarajah told the students in the audience that they were the future of sustainability and that it is crucial to prioritize your values as they will guide you in the professional world. Lastly, Mr. Abidi left us with the fact that we are in a position of privilege to even have the knowledge to find solutions to climate change and reverse the damage that humans have done to our planet. Mr. Abidi also asked students to think of themselves as “healers of the Earth” as they go on to pursue different career paths in sustainability, low impact development, and green infrastructure.

    All in all, this was an inspiring event that helped students gain a deeper understanding of the major current challenges that professionals face in the space of green infrastructure and low impact design, while also being exposed to ways in which we can overcome them with transdisciplinary solutions.

    This panel was live-streamed – a recording is available on our YouTube channel.

    Categories: Blog, Brock Lincoln Living Lab, Experiential Education, Prudhommes Project, SSAS Program, SSAS Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock, Town of Lincoln

  • Leo LeBlanc Rowing Centre LED Lighting Upgrade

    Blog Contributors: Ryan Stewart, Energy Manager, Maintenance and Utilities Services & Nolan Kelly 

    Brock University’s commitment to become more environmentally sustainable and energy efficient continues with the most recent LED lighting upgrade in the Leo LeBlanc Rowing Center. The Leo LeBlanc Rowing Center is a high-performance rowing training facility that is home to Brock University’s rowing teams. The center allows the teams to combine conventional work out equipment with an eight-person tank to train as if they were out on the open water. The previous lighting fixtures in the center were energy intensive and caused operational issues for the occupants, as it would take up to 10 minutes to ramp up to full output. These lighting fixtures have since been replaced for a type of LED light that is brighter and that operates at a greatly reduced power requirement, which makes it more efficient. This LED lighting fixture also offers an instantaneous start-up to full output (no more 10 min wait for the fixtures to come up to full output) which makes the center more much accessible to the rowers. Within this new lighting fixture there also exists dimming capabilities and an increased rated life of 50,000 hours. The project was completed in December of 2019 and cost $6,772.20. The project qualified for an incentive from the Local Distribution Company of $1,680.00 and with an annual Energy Savings Projects Project Profile electrical savings of 23,695 kWh (equating to $4,620.50) the projects simple payback is just over 1 year. The project also results in a carbon savings of 16.75 eton CO2/per year, which is equivalent to taking approximately 6 cars off the roads 

     

    Project Details:  

    Project Cost: $6,772.20  

    Incentives/Grants: $1,680  

    Simple Payback: 1.07 years  

    Energy Savings: 23,695 kWh ($4,620.50)  

    CO2 Reduction: 16.75 eton  

    Project Completion: December 2019 

    Categories: Blog, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • Life in the Thesis Stream of the Sustainability Science and Society program at Brock

    Blog Contributor: Meredith DeCock

    I always assumed I would return to the academic world to pursue a master’s degree. But I resisted this urge for years as it felt like something I should do, not necessarily something I felt a passion to do. If I was going to do a master’s, I wanted it be for a specific purpose and mean something. That is when I found sustainability science.

    I chose Brock, not only because it seemed to be the best sustainability science program in Canada, but I was really interested in a lot of the research being conducted at the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC). I reached out to my now supervisor, Dr. Liette Vasseur, as her work on ecosystem-based adaptation and ecosystem governance interested me. She was just starting a three-year long project with a neighbouring community that will help them co-generate adaptation strategies to combat the impacts of climate change. I was sold. I packed up my essentials and drove across the country to start the program in the fall of 2018.

    Being in either the thesis or MRP stream, your first semester is largely focused on just trying to figure out what grad school is all about. You are in a new school, and in my case, a new province, while trying to balance the seemingly never-ending work loads of classes and trying to understand your area of research.

    The second semester in the thesis stream you have a slightly lighter course load compared to your MRP peers; however, I found second semester busier than the first. I took on an extra course, held a research assistantship position with the ESRC, and took on a few other professional development opportunities that Brock offers such as presenting at the Brock Mapping New Knowledges (MNK) Conference, completing a certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, and submitting an article to a journal for peer-review. But to ensure I did not fall behind, I considered my research proposal its own class. I did not let a week go by without working on my research proposal. It is easy to let your research slide to the backburner in the first two terms of the program; however, if you schedule time into your week dedicated to your thesis, you will be successful.

    I am thankful that I am working with a supervisor on a specific project as I wanted to complete a master’s knowing that my research project is feeding into something larger. However, I know that is not the case for everyone. There is no right way to go about it, but it is great to know that there are options and that you will feel supported by the ESRC regardless of which route you choose.

    Categories: Blog, SSAS Program, SSAS Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • Life in the Master of Sustainability Program – Second Semester 2019

    Blog Contributor: Connor Thompson

    The second semester seemed to pick up right where the program left off in December. I think the cohort expected to ease into the winter term, but our hopes were immediately dashed thanks to a few quick deadlines. Such is life in grad school!

    Both of this semester’s courses were taught by Dr. Jessica Blythe. Jessica absolutely loves working in academia and that passion comes through clearly in her lectures. If you have the opportunity to take any of her courses I highly recommend it, her excitement is infectious and she makes coming to class an enjoyable experience every week.

    SSAS 5P03 – Problem Solving in the Environment

    This is the program’s project management course. Our class was kept as a single project team, tasked with creating a sustainable tourism framework for the Town of Lincoln through our Living Lab agreement. You can expect a few bumps along the way, but a strong group dynamic can overcome just about anything 5P03 throws at you.

    SSAS 5P04 – Transdisciplinary Seminar

    If this course sounds familiar it is because I wrote about it last semester too, 5P04 runs in both the fall and winter. The seminar brought researchers and professionals in to speak with us from across disciplines, which was incredibly useful in bridging sustainability research, policy, and practice. These events are open to the public and you can see past seminars here.

    SSAS 5P12 – Climate Change Adaptation & Transformation

    This course was steadily demanding throughout the semester, largely because we were required to read two articles and submit a 500 word critical response each week. We also created climate data projection reports for Walker Industries Inc. and many of their worksites across Canada, then we each read a book on climate change adaptation, wrote a review, and were given the option to submit it for hopeful publication in an academic journal. The weekly deadlines ensured that we had all completed and were able to speak to the readings with a high level of understanding, which lead to some fascinating conversations on how we communicate about climate change as sustainability scientists.

    The Co-op Job Search

    There is no formal course requirement for co-op students in the second semester, as the focus becomes putting those skills to work and securing a job. The co-op hunt is difficult so my only recommendation is to be prepared to search as soon as you start back at Brock in January. Expect to write a lot of cover letters, send many introductory emails, and spend an unreasonable amount of time on job boards. Look at it as preparation for life after the program!

    For more information about the Master of Sustainability program here at Brock, please visit: https://brocku.ca/esrc/ssas/

    Categories: Blog, SSAS Program, SSAS Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • 20 Sustainable Resolutions for 2020 

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    2019 was the “Year of Sustainability” with the rise in environmental activism, Fridays For Future and various climate strikes in over 200 countries and 7 continents (1). More than ever, students are demanding to have their voices heard to ensure that local and world leaders treat the climate crisis like the emergency it is. Without a doubt, the younger generation will continue to advocate for more environmentally sustainable business practices, products and policies. Now, whether you have started your sustainability journey or not, there are endless changes you can make in your own life to demand a more sustainable world. Even small changes have the ability to create a domino effect and inspire others to make the same modifications in their lives to be more sustainable. Without a doubt, the new decade will continue to put sustainability at the forefront of policy at the local, provincial, national and world levels.  

    It’s important to note that sustainability can look different from person to person, and that there are a wide variety of changes you can make that will help you fit sustainability into your life. A new year (and decade) often come with resolutions that relate to goals, targets and ambitions that motivate us to be better people for ourselves, for others and for the planet. If you’re looking for ideas on how you can incorporate sustainability into your list of resolutions, here are 20 sustainable resolutions we’ve put together for 2020:  

    Food: 

    1. Try incorporating more meatless Mondays 
    2. Eat local/in-season foods by grocery shopping at farmers’ markets 
    3. Bring reusable bags and produce bags when grocery shopping 
    4. Try a new dairy-free milk 
    5. Purchase products in bulk, especially pantry items 

     Clothing: 

    1. Try not to buy any non-necessary new clothing items 
    2. Shop at thrift stores more often 
    3. Shop from ethical and local clothing companies 
    4. Learn how to sew to be able to repair your clothing when needed 
    5. When possible, repair and repurpose what you have instead of buying new clothing 

     Transportation: 

    1. Take the bus instead of driving yourself to school 
    2. Walk to local grocery stores, markets and restaurants instead of driving  
    3. Try biking to nearby establishments more often  
    4. Carpool with your friends and colleagues to school or work  
    5. Carbon offset your travel (learn more here) 

     Get Involved:  

    1. Ask your favourite brands questions about how they source and manufacture their products. Demand more sustainable alternatives when applicable. 
    2. Volunteer with a local environmental organization to help create change in your community 
    3. Join a sustainability/environmental club at school or at work to ensure that leaders within the university or organization are prioritizing sustainability. Create one if there isn’t one in place already! 
    4. Educate friends and family through sharing social media posts about climate change and the impact humans have on the environment  
    5. Donate to your favourite charity that supports environmental and sustainable initiatives 

    There you have it, 20 sustainable resolutions for 2020! Feel free to take these ideas as inspiration for what you hope to accomplish in the new decade to make our world a more sustainable place for future generations. Remember that small changes have the potential to make a big impact on the people and world around you. Whether you’re looking to make big or small sustainable changes to your current lifestyle, make sure to take it one step at a time and be patient with yourself! 

     To learn more about how you can lead a more sustainable lifestyle, check out these helpful resources below: 

    1) ZipCar’s 7 Ways to be More Sustainable 

    2) The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World

    3) Green Eco Tips to More Sustainable Living

    4) 10 Simple Ways to Live More Sustainably, Starting Today

    5) 100+ Simple Tips to Live a More Sustainable Lifestyle

    Source: 

    (1): https://www.corporateknights.com/magazines/2019-education-and-youth-issue-3/youth-rising-meet-2019s-30-under-30-in-sustainability-15731064/ 

    Categories: Blog, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • Coffee Cup Waste and Recycling Locations

    Blog Contributor: Nolan Kelly

    As the cold weather hits and exam season is in full swing, consumption of hot beverages on campus increases. With everything else going on during this time of the year it can be easy to forget about where all these cups are ending up. Last month, the Brock News posted an article that highlighted Brock’s most recent waste audit results from this year. The results revealed that coffee cups are Brock’s top recycling offender as only 2.1% are properly recycled on campus annually. This results in 97.9% of the cups ending up in landfills, which equates to 41.8 metric tons of waste! Brock University is committed to tackling this issue and coming up with solutions for how to reduce this number and improve awareness on campus.  

    While Brock has plans to address this issue, it is up to students to take part and make a difference when it comes to reducing their waste footprint and consuming sustainably. There are many simple steps that students can take such as bringing a reusable mug to campus. Every coffee serving location on campus offers a discount for those who do bring their own mug. General Brock customers who bring a reusable cup of any size pay just $1.25! This discount makes it the cheapest coffee on campus and also encourages sustainability. For those living in residence, dining halls have a punch card each time a student uses their reusable mug. In addition to the discount for every eight drinks they purchase with a reusable container, the ninth is free, which is extended to fountain pop, infused water and hot beverages like coffee and tea. If the cost savings and sustainability reasons are not enough to convince you to buy a reusable mug, there are also other benefits such as keeping your drink warmer, longer, and better protecting yourself from spills. 

    For those that do not have a reusable mug, there is still something you can do to reduce waste on campus! The coffee cups on campus are not recyclable, but they are compostable. This is why it is important to place cups in the designated recycling stations wherever coffee is sold on campus. There are 7 coffee cup recycling locations on campus, they are located in: Pond Inlet (2 bins), upper hall in South Block, Lower Welch Hall in South Block, Welch Hall in front of General Brock, near all three Tim Hortons locations, near the Library close to Starbucks, and at the Student Center near the Starbucks. By choosing to properly dispose of these cups it can make a significant difference in the amount of waste created by coffee cups each year! 

    Categories: Blog, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • 6 Tips for Green Gift Giving

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    Did you know that Canadians throw out 25% more garbage over the holidays than the rest of the year? The holiday season is extremely wasteful due to wrapping paper, tape, cards, foil and plastic that are all used for gift giving traditions. That being said, what if this time of year wasn’t synonymous with excess waste and extreme overconsumption? As an individual, there are a lot of strategies that you can employ to cut down on the unnecessary waste from gifts and its wrapping. This article will help you navigate the season without feeling overwhelmed by the environmental effects of gift giving.  

     Here are a few tips to reduce waste while still participating in your family’s and friends’ gift exchange traditions: 

    1. Buy local: This tip is often suggested because buying local immediately reduces the carbon footprint of your goods, and usually the products purchased come with significantly less packaging than what you can find at a retail store. Added bonus: purchasing local goods encourages small businesses (who naturally have lower carbon footprints than corporations) and stimulates the local economy.  
    2. Give the gift of an experience: Many people enjoy receiving an experience as a gift rather than a material object that takes up space and that they may never use. By purchasing an experience for someone such as tickets to a sports game, a relaxing getaway or a play, you are able to quickly reduce packaging waste (experience-type gifts are usually minimally wrapped, if wrapped at all). Additionally, you are avoiding purchasing a material product that will eventually make its way to a landfill.  
    3. Purchase reusable gift wrap: Thankfully, more and more people are considering the environment during this gift giving season and small companies have started selling festive cloth bags for wrapping purposes. These cloth bags are perfect for wrapping gifts or even baked goods! They can also serve as a gift themselves in addition to what you’ve added inside. Their designs resemble wrapping paper and they add a nice crafty feel to your presents.  
    4. Donate to a charity: Instead of purchasing a material gift, show your family and friends how thoughtful you are by donating to a charity that means a lot to them in their name. This kind of gift is very touching to those receiving it, and you’ll feel great knowing that you helped a charity in need this holiday season. It really is a win-win gift idea! 
    5. Get thrifty: Thrift stores are gaining popularity for many great reasons. First, they repurpose and resell clothing that would have otherwise been thrown out or creating clutter in someone’s closet. Second, their prices are usually quite affordable and if you’re lucky, you can even find designer brands! Thrift stores also sell home décor, small kitchen appliances, and accessories so it’s a perfect place to purchase some unique gifts without buying and creating demand for new items. 
    6. Give your time: So many of us lead busy lives and have trouble dedicating time to those who matter most. An easy way to lessen your waste this holiday season is to give someone the gift of quality time! Plan an exciting weekend with a loved one or make time for a friend so you can enjoy a nice home cooked meal together. These gestures go a long way and you have the ability to get creative with activity planning!  

    Hopefully these tips are helpful and inspire you to think outside the “giftbox” this year as we all strive to create less waste during this season of giving. Always remember to be patient with yourself. Small changes definitely make a big difference as you can lead by example and further inspire others to live more sustainable lives.  

    Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/canadians-to-toss-100000-elephants-worth-of-wrapping-paper-this-year-advocacy-group/article37448496/ 

    Categories: Blog, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock