Articles by author: acotrufo

  • Exploring Sustainable Fashion Practices

    By: Sanjida Amin

    With every purchase you make, you may have the ability to choose a sustainably sourced and produced item. Unfortunately, many products are made in ways that deplete natural resources and harm ecosystems, however, some products are made in more socially, ethically, and environmentally responsible ways. According to The United Nation Environment Programme, the garment industry contributes between 2% and 8% of the world’s carbon emissions, and textile dyeing is a major water polluter. To ensure the garment industry is more sustainable, all actors must get involved, including designers, manufacturers, fashion critics, and consumers. Individuals can make efforts to ensure that their purchasing decisions do not support the exploitation of people or the environment by learning about sustainable shopping practices.  

    How can fashion become more sustainable and what can you do? 

    There are various methods you can employ when shopping for clothing, which can help reduce the impact of fashion on the environment! While you can consider sustainability for large products you purchase, such as technology and furniture for your home, you can also make ethical decisions for everyday purchases, such as clothing, food, beauty products, and more. Since the fashion industry is one of the largest contributors to growing greenhouse gasses, it’s important to question how our clothing is made and where it is coming from. Check out these simple tips to be more sustainable when choosing your fashion products. 

    Be cautious and think before your purchase:  

    Before you purchase a garment, think about if you really need it. Buying fewer clothes is one of the main things we can do to reduce the impact of fashion on the environment. If we all try to buy less, manufacturers will be compelled to produce clothing at a more sustainable level, resulting in a drop in emissions, textile waste, and runoff chemicals. The faster pace of garment production has also accelerated the consumption rate, and according to sources, an average person now purchases 60% more clothing than they did in 2000. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation  estimates that every year, $500 billion USD is lost due to clothing that is hardly used, not donated, recycled, or ends up in a landfill. As quoted, “Rather than impulsively buying a pair of boots, ask yourself: what do you really need, and do you want to follow trends or set them?” – Garrette Clark, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). 

    Consider gently used items and shop local: 

    Purchasing gently used items benefits society and the environment. It not only lowers carbon emissions and your carbon footprint, but it also helps save resources like water and energy. Additionally, you generally have to pay less money when buying gently used  items. Most significantly, by choosing gently used goods, you’re preventing them from being thrown away and keeping them out of landfills. You may also consider shopping locally and supporting small businesses that support fair wages and ethical production.  

    Be a smart laundry manager: 

    When it comes to taking care of your clothes, washing them at a cooler temperature and less frequently is key to improving your own fashion sustainability, and you’ll also save money on your utility bills. Try to only wash full loads of laundry and spot clean items, when possible, rather than giving them a full wash. You may also choose to air-dry clothing, rather than use a tumble dryer, which tends to use more energy. 

    Consider the materials used in your clothing: 

    Another approach to lessen the impact of your wardrobe is to choose garments made with natural materials with fewer synthetic dyes, such as wool and linen and clothing dyed with plant-based materials. The UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion estimates that the textile industry is responsible for about 9% of the annual micro plastics in oceans. In addition, a lot of fibres are comprised of polyester, a material that tends to release far more carbon emissions than cotton. Lots of synthetics are made from plastics, which re-release micro plastics into water streams during washing, are almost impossible to recycle, and can take centuries to decompose. 

    Repair, reuse, and repurpose garments when possible: 

    It is always a great idea to commit to wearing clothing to their maximum lifecycle before discarding any garments. Instead of throwing out unwanted clothing and contributing to textile waste, you can donate unwanted items to charities, repurpose them as rags, or even repair or alter them into something new. A garment you intend to throw away may make a difference for someone else! Every year, the Brock University Faith and Life centre organizes a Winter Clothing Drive for International Students, which not only enhances the donation behaviour of the community, but also nurtures a practice towards greater sustainability. For more information on the clothing drive, please visit the ExperienceBU event page.


    Although the fast fashion industry has significant negative social and environmental effects, the future of sustainability in the fashion industry is promising, and sustainable production methods are expanding. Starting with small actions and making changes in daily lifestyle choices, like reducing your fashion consumption, will not only benefit your bank account but also the health of our planet. If possible, try to keep your garments for as long as possible to minimize their impact on the environment as well as reduce the quantity of new items you need to purchase. Before purchasing clothing, doing some background research on the practices of the brand and the fabrics used can allow you to make a more informed decision on the sustainability and longevity of a product. 

    Categories: Clothing, Student Contributor

  • World Wetlands Day

    Blog by: Kassie Burns

    Happy World Wetlands Day! The theme for this year is wetland restoration, to help bring attention to the horrendous loss of ecosystems and the need to prioritize their restoration (International Coral Reef Initiative, 2023); but what is a wetland, and why should we care about them?  

    A wetland is an area where the primary element is water that helps dictate the environment, plant, and animal life (United Nations, 2023). They can range from large bodies of water like lake shorelines or rivers, to smaller areas like ponds or wet grasslands. They also diversify in marine or freshwater systems. The general requirement for a location to be established as a wetland is for the site to be saturated with water for varying periods of the year, so that area may dry but is known to become flooded again (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2022).  

    The unique nature of wetlands to connect both aquatic and terrestrial environments provides an optimal and necessary habitat for many organisms which makes ecosystems rich in biodiversity. Although they only account for 6% of the earth’s land surface, wetlands are required for 40% of all plant and animal life to live or reproduce (United Nations, 2023). Not only are they vital components to maintain biodiversity, but they also provide a variety of benefits that directly improve human quality of life. These benefits or ecosystem services are ones that occur naturally through different processes undertaken in the environment, with some listed below.  

    Ecosystem Services and Benefits 
    • Water regulation 
    • Flood and storm prevention 
    • Water purification 
    • Food production 
    • Tourism 
    • Job growth 
    • Recreational activities
    • Educational opportunities
    • Enhances health and well-being

    Despite the vital importance of wetlands and the many roles they play, their value is not always recognized. Wetlands continue to get drained for agricultural and urban development. Climate change and invasive species threaten ecosystems further, as well as pollution and the overexploitation of resources. In the last 50 years, wetlands have declined by 35%, which is a rate that is three times faster than that of forest decline (United Nations, 2023).  

    That is why this year’s World Wetlands Day theme reflects on reviving and restoring degraded wetlands. There is an urgent need to take action to bring back what has been lost, and that can start with you! Help spread awareness of these valuable ecosystems so they can get the restoration needed! 

    What Can You Do? 
    • Educate yourself on wetlands and share knowledge with others 
    • Become a wetland champion by advocating for their protection and restoration (ICRI, 2023) 
    • Be conscious of the amount of water used and aware of toxins in products migrating to water sources (ICRF, 2023) 
    • Do not litter and help to clean-up a wetland site  
    • Volunteer directly to a wetland restoration project! Visit the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) to see their list of volunteer opportunities. 


    International Coral Reef Initiative. (2023). World Wetlands Day 2023 materials are now available online. Retrieved January 18, 2023, from 

    United Nations. (2023). World Wetland Day February 2. Retrieved January 18, 2023, from,all%20the%20world’s%20forests%20combined. 

    United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2022). What is a Wetland? Retrieved January 18, 2023, from

    Categories: Events, Student Contributor

  • International Development Week and THE Impact Rankings

    By: Sanjida Amin

    International Development Week

    The Sustainable Development Goals are at the heart of International Development Week, which Brock University is marking with a weeklong series of events running from Feb. 5 to Feb. 11, 2023. The events aim to raise awareness of the United Nations’ (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the steps needed to achieve a more peaceful, inclusive, and prosperous world. The 2030 Agenda has established an ambitious set of 17 goals identified as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Through bringing an end to environmental degradation and building a society free of poverty, inequality, and hunger, the SDGs aim to create a safe and peaceful world with full and productive employment, access to quality education and universal health coverage, gender equality, and more. 

    Brock acknowledges that a sustainable campus involves the dedication and cooperation of everyone at the university, in the Niagara community, and beyond. During International Development Week, the Brock community will explore the SDGs and several approaches we can take to help pave the way towards greater sustainability. One of the events during the week will be a presentation on the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings and Brock’s submission to them. The presentation will be given virtually on Feb. 6 at 12pm. Please visit ExperienceBU to learn more about this event and to register! 

    THE Impact Rankings

    The Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings are world performance tables that evaluate universities based on their progress towards achieving the SDGs. THE Impact Rankings are open to any institutions offering undergraduate or graduate-level education. Using the SDGs as a means of gauging a university’s sustainability performance, they employ precisely calibrated indicators across four major areas—research, stewardship, outreach, and teaching.  

    Brock University’s Submission to THE Impact Rankings

    In 2022, Brock placed in the 201-300th ranking category and received significant scores for each of the top four SDGs submitted:​ SDG 3 (68.3), SDG 5 (61.6), SDG 8 (73.8), and SDG 17 (87.9). For the 2023 submission, Brock chose to submit evidence for a total of seven SDGs, which include: 

    • SDG 3 – Good Health and Wellbeing 
    • SDG 4 – Quality Education​ 
    • SDG 5 – Gender Equality​ 
    • SDG 7- Affordable and Clean Energy​ 
    • SDG 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth​ 
    • SDG 13 – Climate Action  
    • SDG 17 – Partnership for the Goals​ 

    Each university submits data as evidence towards various metrics, which require a specific combination of quantitative and qualitative data. The presentation on Feb. 6 will provide attendees with an overview of some of the data and information submitted by Brock for the 2023 rankings. 

    Next Steps and Future Planning​

    Official results of THE Impact Rankings 2023 submission will be announced in April 2023, and a Brock News story will be shared with information on the university’s ranking. Brock plans to continue to submit to the rankings annually and enhance efforts, including submitting to more SDGs every year.​  

    Brock University’s community of dynamic students, exceptional researchers, staff, and alumni all collaborate to make a positive contribution to social impact and sustainability. For more information on THE Impact Rankings and how Brock is contributing to the SDGs, please visit the Sustainability at Brock website!

    Tags: , ,
    Categories: Events, Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • Niagara Climate Change Summit: Collaborating for a Sustainable Future

    Blog Contributor: Alexandra Cotrufo

    On June 28th, 2022, the Niagara Climate Change Summit took place in Pond Inlet. The Summit was hosted by the Niagara Region in partnership with Brock University and the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority.  

    The Summit came after a motion was passed in September 2021 by the Regional Council to declare a climate change emergency. Niagara’s annual average air temperature has risen by 1.4°C since 1910, and it is expected that this number will reach 1.8°C by the year 2050, according to Brock research. More than ever before, transformational change is needed to combat and mitigate the severe impacts of climate change. 

    The Summit brought together representatives from 12 local municipalities, academic institutions, non-profit organizations, and the private sector to make a commitment to actively do more to address climate change in Niagara. 

    The day started with a traditional Indigenous opening by Dylan Ritchie (Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre) from the Saugeen First Nation, followed by a keynote presentation by Karen Farbridge (Karen Farbridge & Associates). Karen’s presentation focused on the importance of pushing for climate action at the local level, with the theme revolving around “Think global, act local.” She encouraged the Summit attendees to take bold action and collaborate with one another to build a more efficient, resilient, and sustainable Niagara. 

    Following the keynote presentation, The Regional Chair’s Youth Advisory Panel, represented by Salony Sharma (Chair) and Keegan Hedley (Vice-Chair), spoke to attendees about the effects climate change has on Niagara’s youth and the importance of climate action for future generations. Salony and Keegan urged everyone in the room to act on climate change, engage Niagara youth in discussions, and make a true commitment to achieving Net Zero by 2050. Their presentation closed with a powerful video highlighting how youth in Niagara feel about climate change. 

    Two panel discussions were later held, which focused on topics of leading environmental and climate change action in communities, and climate change action and the economy. 

    Summit attendees participated in facilitated discussions which will help inform a more cohesive climate change action plan for the Region.

    The afternoon consisted of several facilitated roundtable discussions, which focused on topics such as biodiversity, agriculture, local food and wine, sustainable transportation, home and building efficiency, and more. The roundtable session aimed to identify opportunities and barriers to advancing climate action in Niagara within various key sectors. 

    These discussions are an important first step for developing a network for collaboration, and the ideas and feedback collected will be utilized to develop a more cohesive climate change action plan for the Region. 

    Over 100 individuals, representing dozens of local organizations, signed the call to action.

    Following the roundtable discussions, Summit attendees were invited to sign a call to action as a pledge to continue engaging in important discussions surrounding climate change and sustainable development.  

    This acted as a demonstration of commitment to form partnerships, share knowledge, and accelerate action on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions in Niagara. Over 100 individuals, representing dozens of local organizations, signed the pledge. 

    The Summit acted as a foundational first step for Niagara organizations, institutions, and municipalities to commit to working together to invest in the critical change that is needed to mitigate environmental challenges and prevent further negative impact. 

    If you would like to view the presentations and panel discussions, you can find the recording on the Region’s YouTube channel or at the Niagara Climate Change Summit website. 

    Photos courtesy of Flashbox Photography.

    Categories: Climate Change, Niagara, Student Contributor, Sustainability