Articles by author: Amanda Smits

  • Brock Students Celebrated Earth Hour with Sustainability Challenge

    By: Madison Lepp

    On the week of March 21 to 25, Brock hosted its second Sustainability Challenge to encourage engagement in Earth Hour. Earth Hour engages millions of people in switching off their lights to show support for our planet. The day has become a catalyst for positive environmental impact – driving major legislative changes by harnessing the power of collective action. This year, 2022, was branded as The Year That Counts. Later this year, world leaders will be coming together to attend a critical United Nations conference on nature & biodiversity. Happening shortly before the CBD COP 15, Earth Hour is a crucial opportunity to put the spotlight on this conference and build the global momentum needed to pressure world leaders into action later in the year.

    The challenge, which was hosted in partnership with Blackstone Energy Services, encouraged students to log their sustainable actions over a one-week period on the Blackstone Energy app. The goal of the challenge was to engage the student community in contributing to Sustainability at Brock and highlight ways to easily integrate sustainable solutions into everyday life. Actions included turning the tap off when brushing your teeth, composting, air drying dishes, buying local, and so much more.

    “We are thrilled with the level of student participation we’ve seen in throughout the sustainability challenges we’ve held this year and are hopeful these challenges are allowing students to see how small changes they can make in their own lives can have large scale impacts. ” said Amanda Smits, Centre Administrator at the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre.

    The rules were simple: log all sustainable actions you made throughout the day on the app to accumulate points. The three students who accumulated the most points by the end of the competition won a Grouphug window solar charger, a Cyboris solar-powered Bluetooth speaker, and a Hydro Flask from the Campus Store plus two Stasher reusable silicone bags.

    Winners of the challenge were happy to share the impact this initiative had on their day-to-day lives. First-place finisher Sydney Macintyre, noted how she has brought the actions taken during the challenge into her everyday life:

    “My most logged action was walk there,” she said. “I am finding myself walking to close locations everyday versus driving. This challenge has brought to light many ways in which sustainability can be incorporated into your daily itinerary!”

    Second-place finisher noted how the challenge made her really think about the bigger picture

    “This challenge made me appreciate how significant Earth Hour is,” said KC Vega. “It was a way to contribute something good and positive to help save our Earth. I would highly encourage others to take part in this challenge; as I would definitely participate again in the next one!”

    Through the app, we were able to estimate CO2 savings, waste diversion, and water savings from students logging their sustainable actions. With over 1,000 actions logged, an estimated total of 1,390 kilograms of CO2(about half the weight of an elephant) and 12,660 litres of water (about half the volume of a large U-Haul truck) were saved. Additionally, 75 kilograms of waste (about the weight of a washing machine) was diverted. The top actions included using a reusable water bottle, turning off the water when brushing your teeth, recycling, using a reusable mug, and turning off the lights when leaving a room.

    “I liked the challenge because it was a fun way to connect with other students off-campus in a challenging way!” Said third-place finisher, Victoria Stinson. “It was genuinely so much fun competing while completing sustainable actions!”

    The goal of the Sustainability Challenge was to highlight Earth Hour and how easy it is to make small, yet impactful, sustainable choices every day. Students are encouraged to continue taking eco-friendly actions to reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to the health of the environment!

    Categories: Challenge/Contest, Climate Change, Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • Decreasing Single-use Plastics through the Living Planet Leader Certification

    Blog Contributor: Chyna-Rose Bennett

    Brock has partnered with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada for the Living Planet at Campus project. Students will be able to participate in conservation activities on campus, in their communities, and even globally because of this cooperation. The partnership gives students a certification showing their involvement in the community and academia through ways of volunteering, a personal application, academics, leadership, as well as teamwork. The idea behind the certification is that the actions each of us take towards sustainability is important and influences combating climate change (Brock University).

    The Personal Application

    One aspect of the certification is the personal application. This is used to show how an individual has contributed to sustainability by completing a self-guided checklist of solution-based actions. A brief reflection on the positive personal and environmental impact is included with each checklist item (Brock University).

    Decreasing Single-use Plastics

    A topic covered in a few of the actions in the checklist is conservation through the reusing of resources. These include bringing your own mug/coffee cup, using reusable containers for food, bringing reusable bags for grocery shopping, as well as refusing the use of plastic straws and cutlery when eating out. All these actions require an individual to bring these items with them, thus reducing the amount of waste they generate. These actions are important because it limits the amount of single-use plastic generated and thrown into landfills. It is a simple sustainable action that can be done at an individual level, but results in a large overall change. Every year, up to 15 billion plastic bags are used in Canada, and about 57 million straws are used every day (Environment Canada, 2021).

    So, remember if you are going grocery shopping, bring a reusable bag; if you are going to a coffee shop, bring a reusable cup/mug; and if you are eating out, bring a reusable straw and cutlery and remember to refuse any plastic items. These simple steps could have a large impact if everyone made this change.

    The change starts with you!

    References:

    Brock University. WWF-Canada Living Planet @ Campus partnership. Brock University. (n.d.). Retrieved February 2, 2022, from https://brocku.ca/sustainability/wwf-canada-living-planet-campus-partnership/

    Environment and Climate Change Canada (2021, July 12). Canada one-step closer to zero plastic waste by 2030. Canada.ca. Retrieved February 15, 2022, from https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/news/2020/10/canada-one-step-closer-to-zero-plastic-waste-by-2030.html

  • Buying Gently Used for a More Sustainable Lifestyle

    Blog Contributor: Allegra Caballero 

    Brock is a Living Planet @ Campus partner with WWF-Canada, giving students the opportunity to become a Living Planet Leader. This nationally recognized self-guided certification can be earned through conservative and sustainable initiatives made during students’ post-secondary careers. To earn the certification, students must complete 4 category requirements:

    Leadership & Teamwork: this category requires students to get involved in leadership and teamwork—like by joining a club or participating in an event—that has delivery of environmental or sustainable awareness or action.

    Application of Sustainability in Academics: this category requires students to take a sustainability or conservation course or apply sustainability to an aspect of existing courses.

    Campus, Community or Global Volunteerism: this category requires students to complete 40 volunteer hours in an area related to environment, sustainability or conservation.

    Personal Application of Sustainability: this category requires students to demonstrate personal contributions to sustainability by completing 40 actions from a personal checklist.

    Living sustainably involves thinking about what goes into making your belongings and what will happen to them after you no longer need them. If you’re looking to make changes to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle, consider buying gently used items instead of new. On the personal application checklist, this is #7 (donating gently used items for reuse) and #24 (buying gently used instead of new!)

    Why Gently Used?
    Buying items gently used has a positive environmental and social impact. Not only does it reduce carbon emissions and lower your carbon-footprint, it also saves a lot of resources such as energy and water. Gently used items usually cost you less money, too. Most importantly, by buying something used you’re preventing it from being thrown away and keeping it out of landfills. This keeps the item’s lifecycle going.

    Before You Buy.
    It’s important to know where your things come from and how they’re made. When you’re thinking about buying something, do some quick research to find out how and where the item was made (Locally made? Sustainable materials and packaging?) and where it will end up when you’re done using it.

    Of course, it’s not always possible to buy everything used, but try your best to make sure you only buy something new when you absolutely need to do so.

    What Do I Do When I Don’t Need it Anymore?
    If you find that you no longer use or want an item anymore and can’t repurpose and use it for something else, try seeing if a friend or a family member can use it. If they can’t, then donating gently used items (clothing, household, etc.) to charities, donation centres and thrift shops for reuse is the way to go.

    If you have something that can’t be donated, disassemble and recycle what you can. If you have an item you aren’t sure how to recycle or dispose of properly, search for it using this tool by the Niagara Region and it will tell you how. Aren’t local to Niagara? Check out your city’s website and see what helpful information they offer on recycling and waste disposal in your area.

    To learn more about the Living Planet @ Campus Program at Brock University, click here.

  • A snapshot into the recent IPCC impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability projections

    Blog Contributor: Alexandra Cotrufo

    Photo: DisobeyArt / Getty Images

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), The Working Group II, recently contributed to the Sixth Assessment Report which “assesses the impacts of climate change, looking at ecosystems, biodiversity, and human communities at global and regional levels. It also reviews vulnerabilities and the capacities and limits of the natural world and human societies to adapt to climate change”. This contribution is critical in helping us understand the current state of the environment and what urgent work is needed to prevent devastating impacts on people and the planet.

    In addition to a summary for policymakers, the IPCC created fact sheets which provide snapshots of key findings for the seven regions across the globe. Here is an overview of the fact sheets which showcase how the climate crisis affects different parts of the world in different ways. This blog post will only cover information in the fact sheets that focus on ecosystems, food, and water, but we encourage you to read the full fact sheets as well as the summary for policymakers to gain a thorough understanding of how climate change impacts various countries and the barriers that exist for adaptation, specifically for our most vulnerable communities.

    Africa

    • African biodiversity loss is projected to be widespread and escalating with every 0.5°C increase above present-day global warming
    • Above 1.5°C, half of assessed species are projected to lose over 30% of their population or area of suitable habitat. At 2°C, 7–18% of species assessed are at risk of extinction, and over 90% of East African coral reefs are projected to be severely degraded by bleaching.
    • In Africa, agricultural productivity growth has been reduced by 34% since 1961 due to climate change, more than any other region. Future warming will negatively affect food systems in Africa by shortening growing seasons and increasing water stress
    • Global warming above 2°C will result in yield reductions for staple crops across most of Africa compared to 2005 yields.
    • Climate change poses a significant threat to African marine and freshwater fisheries. Under 1.7°C global warming, reduced fish harvests could leave 1.2–70 million people in Africa vulnerable to iron deficiencies, up to 188 million for vitamin A deficiencies, and 285 million for vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids by mid-century.
    • Recent extreme variability in rainfall and river discharge across Africa have had largely negative and multi-sector impacts across water-dependent sectors.
    • Projected changes present heightened cross-cutting risks to water-dependent sectors and require planning under deep uncertainty for the wide range of extremes expected in future.

     Asia

    • Observed biodiversity loss of animals and plants was linked to climate change in some parts of Asia.
    • Future climate change would cause biodiversity and habitat loss in many parts of Asia and would reduce suitable habitat of protected plants.
    • The risk of irreversible loss of coral reefs, tidal marshes, seagrass meadows, plankton community and other marine and coastal ecosystems increases with global warming, especially at 2°C temperature rise or more.
    • Increased floods and droughts, together with heat stress, will have adverse impact on food availability and prices of food resulting in increased undernourishment in South and Southeast Asia.
    • By mid-21st Century, the international transboundary river basins of Amu Darya, Indus, Ganges could face severe water scarcity challenges due to climatic variability and changes acting as stress multipliers.
    • Due to global warming, Asian countries could experience increase of drought conditions (5-20%) by the end of this century.

    Australasia

    • Climate trends and extreme events have combined with exposure and vulnerabilities to cause major impacts for many natural systems, with some experiencing or at risk of irreversible change in Australia and in New Zealand.
    • The Bramble Cay melomys, an endemic mammal species, became extinct due to loss of habitat associated with sea level rise and storm surges in the Torres Strait.
    • Extensive coral bleaching events and loss of temperate kelp forests have occurred, due to ocean warming and marine heatwaves.
    • Climate trends and extreme events have combined with exposure and vulnerabilities to cause major impacts for some human systems.
    • Extreme heat has led to excess deaths and increased rates of many illnesses.
    • Droughts have caused financial and emotional stress in farm households and rural communities.
    • Nuisance and extreme coastal flooding have increased due to sea-level rise superimposed upon high tides and storm surges.

    Central and South America

    • Ocean and coastal ecosystems in the region such as coral reefs, estuaries, salt marshes, mangroves and sandy beaches are highly sensitive and negatively impacted by climate change and derivedhazards.
    • Coral reefs are projected to lose their habitat, change their distribution range and suffer more bleaching events driven by ocean warming.
    • Up to 85% of natural systems (plant and animal species, habitats and communities) evaluated in the literature for biodiversity-rich spots in the region are projected to be negatively impacted by climate change.
    • The Amazon Forest, one of the world’s largest biodiversity and carbon repositories, is highly vulnerable to drought and was highly impacted by the unprecedented droughts and higher temperatures observed in 1998, 2005, 2010 and 2015/2016, attributed partly to climate change.
    • The combined effect of anthropogenic land use change and climate change increases the vulnerabilities of terrestrial ecosystems to extreme climate events and fires.
    • Glacier retreat, temperature increase and precipitation variability, together with land-use change, have affected ecosystems, water resources, and livelihoods through landslides and flood disasters.
    • Increasing water scarcity and competition over water are projected.
    • Disruption in water flows will significantly degrade ecosystems such as high-elevation wetlands and affect farming communities, public health and energy production.
    • Extremely long dry spells have become more frequent affecting the economies of large cities in southeast Brazil.
    • Impacts on rural livelihoods and food security, particularly for small and medium-sized farmers and Indigenous Peoples in the mountains, are projected to worsen, including the overall reduction of agricultural production, suitable farming area and water availability. 

    Europe

    • Our current 1.1°C warmer world is already affecting natural and human systems in Europe.
    • Impacts of compound heatwaves and droughts have become more frequent and largely negative impacts are projected for southern regions.
    • Substantive agricultural production losses are projected for most European areas over the 21st century, which will not be offset by gains in Northern Europe.
    • While irrigation is an effective adaptation option for agriculture, the ability to adapt using irrigation will be increasingly limited by water availability, especially in response to warming above 3°C.
    • In Southern Europe, more than a third of the population will be exposed to water scarcity at 2°C warming and significant economic losses in water and energy dependent sectors may arise.
    • Coastal flood damage is projected to increase at least 10-fold by the end of the 21st century, and even more or earlier with current adaptation and mitigation.
    • Sea level rise represents an existential threat for coastal communities and their cultural heritage, particularly beyond.

    North America

    • Rising air, water, ocean, and ground temperatures have restructured ecosystems and contributed to documented redistribution and mortality of plant, fish, bird, mammal and other faunal species.
    • Escalating climate change impacts on marine, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems will alter ecological processes and amplify other anthropogenic threats to protected and iconic species and habitats.
    • Climate-induced redistribution and declines in North American food production are a risk to food and nutritional security.
    • Climate change will continue to shift North American agricultural and fishery suitability ranges and intensify production losses of key crops, livestock, fisheries, and aquaculture products.
    • Heavy exploitation of limited water supplies, especially in the western US and northern Mexico, and deteriorating freshwater management infrastructure, have heightened water security impacts and risks.
    • Intensified droughts and earlier runoff from diminished snowpack will increase water scarcity during the summer peak water demand period especially in regions with extensive irrigated agriculture, leading to economic losses and increased pressures on limited groundwater as a substitute for diminished surface water supplies.

    Small Islands

    • The continued degradation of terrestrial and marine ecosystems of small islands due to negative human impacts will amplify the vulnerability of island peoples to climate change impacts.
    • New studies highlight large population reductions with an extinction risk of 100% for endemic species within insular biodiversity hotspots including within the Caribbean, Pacific and Sundaland regions by 2100 for less than 3°C warming.
    • Ecosystem degradation is likely to decrease the provision of resources to the millions of people inhabiting small islands, resulting in impacts upon settlements and infrastructure, food and water security, health, economies, culture, and migration.
    • It is estimated that with a warming of 1.5°C or less, freshwater stress on small islands would be 25% less as compared to 2.0°C.
    • Drought risk projections for Caribbean Small Island Development States (SIDS) indicate that a 1°C increase in temperature could result in a 60% increase in the number of people projected to experience severe water resources stress from 2043–2071.
    • On small islands, coastal land loss attributable to higher sea level, increased extreme precipitation and wave impacts, and increased aridity have contributed to food and water insecurities that are likely to become more acute in many places.

    It is evident that globally, climate change has severe impacts on the health of our ecosystems and the natural resources needed to sustain all life. Policymakers, organizations, government bodies, and every individual must take urgent action to adapt, mitigate risks, and reduce the rate that climate change is occurring.

    We know this information may be overwhelming, but it is necessary to fully understand the current state of the environment so we can work toward finding sustainable solutions. If you’re struggling to deal with the reality of climate change, read our blog post about eco-anxiety and how to manage it here.

    Categories: Climate Change, Student Contributor

  • Eco-anxiety: What is it and how to manage it

    Blog Contributor: Alexandra Cotrufo

    Photo by Mushroomhead

    Climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, forest degradation… If hearing these terms sparks feelings of fear, dread, anger, and sadness, you are not alone. The current environmental crisis has obvious impacts on the health of the planet, but it can also have extreme impacts on the mental and physical health of the humans living on it.

    Eco-anxiety refers to persistent worries about the environment and the future of the planet. It is caused by negative changes in the earth’s climate and can be experienced directly (I.e., from witnessing a heavily polluted beach) or indirectly (I.e., from hearing about a forest fire through a news channel). Symptoms of eco-anxiety include (but are not limited to) trauma, shock, panic attacks, anxiety, depression, feelings of helplessness, guilt, anger, sadness, and frustration. There are also other terms associated with eco-anxiety and our connection with the environment, such as solsalgia, which is used to describe emotional or existential distress caused by climate change, and topophilia, which is used to describe one’s bond with the environment and their mental, emotional, and cognitive ties to a place.

    Eco-anxiety is not currently listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which means it is not officially considered a diagnosable condition. However, mental health professionals and researchers are increasingly looking into the impacts of climate change on mental health and ways to combat and treat feelings of eco-anxiety. It is completely normal to worry about the health of the environment and the future of the planet – it means you care about climate change and want to see the implementation of sustainable environmental solutions! But excessive worry can interfere with daily life and make it difficult to accomplish simple tasks.

    If you find yourself anxious and stressed about climate change, here are five things you can do to ease your fear and improve your overall wellbeing.

    1. Acknowledge your feelings

     The first step in dealing with eco-anxiety is to acknowledge your feelings and understand that they are completely valid and normal. A recent Climate Access report on Canadians’ opinions about climate change found that 45% of respondents are worried about the state of the environment and 25% are truly alarmed. There are many people in the world who share the same feelings you might have about climate change, so it’s important to remember that you are not alone and there are others who also care about the environment and want to create meaningful change.

    1. Talk about it 

    Even though there are others who also experience feelings of eco-anxiety, it’s easy to feel alone when grappling with your emotions. Try to talk about your feelings and experiences with friends, family, and confidants. Talking through things with others can help you see things from a different perspective and alleviate some of the burden that comes with keeping your thoughts bottled up. You may also find that your loved ones share similar feelings with you, which you might find comfort in knowing.

    1. Take a break

    Engaging in climate action can take a toll on your mind and body. It’s critical that you take a break whenever you feel you need one to disconnect from your phone/computer and focus on some psychological self-care. As put so perfectly in the national bestselling book All We Can Save (which we highly recommend reading!), “A stressed-out body and mind work less efficiently and effectively…By contrast, a balanced, resilient mind is a kinder and more compassionate, alert, productive, and effective mind.” So, take a walk, watch some guilty pleasure TV, go to the movies, hangout with friends, or do anything else that gets your mind off the state of the environment for a bit. Your body will thank you. 

    1. Maintain a healthy routine

    Having a routine can help you feel more in control of your life and can reduce the stress that comes along with uncertainty and chaos. When environmental health and climate change feel out of your control, focus on the things in your life that you can control like your school, work, relationships, and hobbies. Make sure you’re also getting enough sleep and at least 30 minutes of daily exercise to help clear your mind and keep you feeling refreshed and alert.

    1. Do what you can

    Climate action can be extremely overwhelming, and it’s difficult to know what exactly you should be doing to contribute to a more sustainable world. Small tasks can often feel meaningless or like they do not hold a lot of weight, but it’s important to remember that every step is a step in the right direction. It’s impossible for one person to fix the mistakes of millions, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself to have all the answers and be a “perfect” environmentalist. Whatever you’re able to do, do it! Some weeks you may be able to do more than others. But whether you pass on the straw or join a protest, remember that you are doing what you can.

    If you find yourself struggling to cope with eco-anxiety and these tips do not work for you, please seek professional support to get the help you need. Brock’s Personal Counselling Services are available to all Brock students and are offered as part of the ancillary fees that students pay annually. Remember to always be kind to yourself. You are not alone. We are in the fight for climate justice together.

    References:

    https://www.psd.gov.sg/challenge/ideas/trends/eco-anxiety-the-psychological-impact-of-climate-change

    https://www.healthline.com/health/eco-anxiety#is-it-normal

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1277882/

    https://www.climatepsychologyalliance.org/handbook/451-eco-anxiety#:~:text=Coined%20by%20the%20philosopher%20Glenn,is%20subject%20to%20environmental%20degradation

    https://climateaccess.org/blog/what-do-canadians-really-think-about-climate-change

     

  • Buying Local and Sustainably Through the Winter

    Blog Contributor: Madison Lepp

    Eating locally and in season is a great way to be more environmentally conscious. Unfortunately, during the cold Canadian winter months, this becomes much more difficult. It is easy to forget about seasonal eating with modern-day food processing and worldwide distribution. Nevertheless, there are still many important reasons for eating seasonally and ways to shop locally in these cold months.

    What does eating seasonally mean?

    Just because something is available in the grocery store does not mean it’s in season. Simply put, eating seasonally means eating the fruits, vegetables, and grains that are naturally grown in abundance during specific times of the year.

    Why is it important?

    Eating seasonally not only has environmental benefits but this practice also is often less costly, decreases your carbon footprint, and supports the local community.

    Out of season produce is shipped very far distances to reach our grocery store shelves. For example, strawberries can’t grow in our cold Canadian winter, so grocery stores often source them from the United States or South America. Transportation from these places is very resource intense, creating greenhouse gas emissions. Although, that’s not to say that strawberries and other produce can’t be grown in greenhouses here in Niagara.

    How to shop locally & in season…

    • Check out your local Farmers market or “on-farm” markets
    • Look for Foodland Ontario logos or “Product of Canada” on the packaging
    • Buy locally frozen and canned varieties

    Here is a list of vegetables widely available in season right now (December-February):

    Apples, Beets, Cabbage, Carrots, Cucumber*, Garlic, Leeks, Lettuce*, Peppers*, Potatoes, Mushrooms, Onions, Parsnips, Rhubarb, Rutabaga, Sprouts, Squash, Tomatoes*.

    *Denotes greenhouse grown fruits/vegetables

    Winter’s Farmers Markets in and around Southern Ontario:

    Some winter recipes ideas, using in seasons produce to spark your interest!

    Pumpkin Apple Muffins

    Apple Cinnamon Waffles with Honey

    Leek Potato Soup

    Butternut Squash Lasagna

    Vegan Cabbage Rolls

    Apple Crisp

    Rhubarb Crumble Bars

  • Doing More to Waste Less

    Blog Contributor: Nolan Kelly

    People have vowed to ditch single-use plastics by purchasing reusable alternatives. While scrapping plastic straws is a great start, it is important to remember that these popular issues are just some of the ways to help curb single-use plastic waste. Taking the extra steps necessary when it comes to producing less waste may not be as trendy as ditching the straw, but they are just as or more important. One of the biggest contributors to people’s waste generation daily, is the coffee cup. In today’s society it has become all too convenient for people to not think twice about throwing away the single use coffee cups. However, there is a very simple and obvious solution to this issue, buy a reusable coffee cup! Like the reusable water bottle, this alternative immediately cuts back on one’s waste footprint. This option often comes with 10 cent incentives from coffee serving franchises as well, so it is a win-win.

    Limiting waste and being a more eco-conscious consumer plays a big role at the grocery store. By now it is common knowledge to bring reusable grocery bags and not rely on the plastic bags they provide.  Which is a step in the right direction but certainly not the only way to limit waste at the grocery store. As a consumer it is important to recognize what style of packaging a product has and try to choose the items that do not use packaging that is unnecessary. Avoiding plastic produce bags can also easily be avoided by bringing your own reusable produce bags to minimize the amount of plastic you use every single trip.

    There are simple everyday choices that people can make including to refuse single use plastics from restaurants or stores, supporting brands and companies that work to reduce their waste, and always having an emphasis on reducing and reusing before needing to recycle. Although many of these actions may seem small, they all add up. One step that I have taken in the last year to reduce my own footprint is to bring a cutlery kit with me everywhere I go. It has a little fork, spoon, and knife all in one and fits perfectly in my bag for when I’m on the go or at school. This means that even when I am out, I have the power to avoid using single use plastic items. These everyday choices to reduce waste and become a more conscious consumer can have a big impact on an individual’s waste footprint and encourage others to make positive changes to their lifestyle as well.

    Categories: Sustainability at Brock

  • Brock’s Schmon Tower to be illuminated in colour

    A new nighttime look is on its way for Brock’s signature building.

    Since its construction in 1968, the Schmon Tower has been a key component of the University’s landscape and is visible on a clear day from miles around.

    But with the help of a new LED lighting system, the 13-storey landmark will soon be just as eye-catching at night.

    On Canada Day, Sunday, July 1, the University will flip the switch on the new system, which will cast colourful lights down all four sides of the building.

    “People might remember the Tower’s original white ribbon lights, which were decommissioned almost 10 years ago,” said Scott Johnstone, Associate Vice-President, Facilities Management. “They used a lot of energy and were literally falling apart. They had reached their end of life.”

    When the lights went out, Brock heard from community members who wanted to see them return.

    “We heard a lot from people, especially boaters and marine folk who liked to see the Tower from out in Lake Ontario,” Johnstone said. “People in general seem to like looking at the escarpment and seeing the Tower lights.”

    Residential-style floodlights were installed as a temporary fix while staff worked to find a more suitable and affordable option.

    Recent years brought a drop in the price of energy efficient lighting, which has allowed the University to now purchase a Philips Color Kinetics high-performance system. The new technology offers a full rainbow of colour options and light show possibilities.

    Beginning with a red and white light display for Canada Day, the Tower will be lit up in the evenings with colours changed for holidays and special occasions throughout the year.

    “It’s great that we’re able to do different things for special days, but at the end of the day we’re still saving a considerable amount of energy from the original lights, using almost 10 times less energy,” Johnstone said.

    The new lighting system adds to the dozens of energy saving projects, both large and small, that are underway across campus, he said.

    “They all count towards lowering the University’s carbon footprint and increasing our energy efficiency.”

    Story originally published in The Brock News


    Categories: Sustainability at Brock

  • Fair Trade Campus!

    Blog Contributor: Kaitlin James

    Did you know that Brock University is a Fair-Trade Campus? Brock became Canada’s sixth Fair Trade Campus in 2013 and is the second university in Ontario to be designated by Fairtrade Canada after Guelph.

    In fact, in 2015 Brock was named Fair Trade Campus of the Year.

    So, what is fair trade? Fair trade aims to create a relationship between producers and consumers that is mutually beneficial. It uses support from consumers to influence and drive business towards increased social and environmental sustainability.

    Dining Services at Brock is dedicated to building these relationships by providing fair trade products such as coffee, tea, dairy milk chocolate and Camino products in campus stores and vending machines. They also integrate sustainability into their daily operations by supporting local businesses; providing cage free eggs, buying locally, using recyclable and biodegradable packaging and provide biodegradable take-out containers.

    Every year starting at the end of May until the end of summer, Brock holds a weekly farmers’ market in Jubilee Court every Thursday. This provides students and staff with access to produce, farmers and bakeries, while supporting local vendors and economy.

    As you can see Brock provides various fair-trade products across campus!

    To find out more, check out the Brock website in the link below!

    https://brocku.ca/sustainability/initiatives/fair-trade/

  • Waste Not, Worry Not—Brock’s Got it Covered

    Blog Contributor: Shelby McFadden

    Battery Recycling

    Sitting in the basement of Mackenzie Chown’s G-Block, I scribbled like crazy, trying to document all of the current initiatives and associated numbers for waste collection here on campus. Sitting next to me was Kevin Lawr, supervisor of the day-to-day operations of the Central Shipping/Receiving, Maintenance Stores, and Mail Services departments.

    Though initially confusing to find the office tucked away in the belly of Mackenzie Chown, the meeting was extremely interesting and enlightening, and I ended up walking away with a hopeful feeling.

    The fact is that there are already a lot of great opportunities for recycling and diverting waste on campus, managed by a skilled team of staff and faculty who are enthusiastic about sustainability at Brock.

    But there is still a lot of room to increase our usage of these programs, and it begins by becoming aware of existing opportunities, and spreading the word on to our friends, roommates, and fellow Badgers.

    Batteries, ink cartridges, cell phones, and other electronics are all collected and recycled at Brock, helping to reduce waste and keep dangerous toxins out of our landfill.

    In 2017, Brock recycled approximately 4800 pounds of used batteries! Many departments already have pails, but if you are looking to order a pail for your department, make sure to contact Kevin at klawr@brocku.ca

    Students can also participate by accessing a pail in the nearest department or the North and South Service desks in Decew and the Lowenberger lobby.

    Another opportunity for recycling is with ink cartridges, of which an estimated 500 pounds were recycled last year.

    Faculty and staff can place their cartridges in a box labelled “used cartridge,” and send it to Central Shipping and Receiving through interoffice mail. Students can make use of the pail on the help desk in Computer Commons or in the Campus Store.

    No discussion on recycling programs would be complete without addressing electronics, as they play an increasingly large role in our lives.

    An overwhelming number of items are accepted, from cell phones, tablets, laptops, computer cables and monitors, routers, cameras, speakers, gaming consoles, fans, power tools, etc. Make sure to check Sustainability at Brock’s website to view the list of all accepted items.

    Departments can fill out the following form to send to klawr@brocku.ca, before contacting custodial services to pick up the desired item(s). At this time, there are no collection points for e-waste, but students are encouraged to bring their items down to Central Shipping and Receiving (MC G207). It’s a little bit confusing to find at first, but let’s face it—as students, sometimes we need a mini adventure and excuse to wander around.

    To make it easier, if it’s a cell phone you’re looking to recycle, they can be dropped off at the ITS desk.

    There’s definitely room for improvements in waste management at Brock, but we have to start somewhere, and it’s important to support the existing programs that are already working to do good work. By taking an extra few minutes out of our day, we can demonstrate our commitment to waste reduction, and do a little bit of good.

    To do a lot of good, share this with other Brock students, staff, and faculty, so we can all do our part!

    Look forward to a future blog article on food waste initiatives at Brock!

    Categories: Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock