Articles by author: Amanda Smits

  • Bill 23: More Home Built Faster Act

    Blog By: Kassie Burns

    Low-rise houses mixed-use urban multi-family residential district area development with children playground overcast cloudy sky background.

    November and December are always busy months in the year. Last year, through the chaos of the holiday season, the Ontario government decided it was a perfect time to pass Bill 23: More Homes Built Faster Act. This new piece of legislation aims to address Ontario’s housing crisis by eliminating input on residential development from individuals and municipalities. This allows development to proceed on conservation and agricultural land, and would allow for the destruction of Indigenous sites, wetlands, and forests without dispute.

    Bill 23 has raised questions surrounding the authority conservations hold, if “protected areas” can now be developed on. The consequences of developing on these grounds, such as the critical greenbelt, would be drastic, and there are deep concerns relating to conservation authorities’ ability to protect people and infrastructure from flooding, erosion, and slope failures (Rideau Valley Conservation Authority) if development is allowed. Further risks to developing on these protected lands involve water supply and food scarcity, all amplified by climate change.

    Although the housing crisis needs solutions fast, this legislation is not the way to resolve the issue (City of St. Catharines, 2022). Instead of helping housing, the City of St. Catharines states that the bill “fails to address the goals of increasing housing supply, housing affordability, and improved process”, where the city and Niagara Region are expecting to be severely impacted with financial implications. Community planning and building has been a process that has critically required all levels of collaboration, and this is now being diminished to create divisions and conflict (City of St. Catharines).

    Alternative forms of housing development have begun to emerge, as exemplified with plans for the Cloverdale Mall in Etobicoke. The plan in progress would build various apartments and condos vertically on top of the mall to transform the location into a community neighbourhood. The plans add green rooftops and vegetation between buildings. Additional benefits come with walking distances to fitness-wellness centres, art and culture programs, restaurants, shopping, and parks. This mode of development showcases that Ontario does not lack land for development, but rather, we lack innovative approaches to housing development which conserve nature and wildlife and do not contribute to growing issues of habitat fragmentation, biodiversity loss, and increased prevalence of invasive species. The government exacerbates the situation by already having excess land approved for development to meet the needs of the Act, yet they still choose to encroach on protected lands and increase urban sprawl. This fact has been widely discussed in the media and more details can be found in this article.

    Unfortunately, taking these alternative development strategies and already approved land into consideration did not seem to be on the government’s agenda when addressing this bill. “Bill 23 has no regard or consideration for infrastructure funding, asset management, environmental systems, public realm, and quality of space”, stated a spokesperson for the City of St. Catharines. The new Act brings with it immense environmental, social, and economic impacts that jeopardize human health and well-being, and results in a huge leap backwards instead of progressing forward to a more sustainable future (City of St. Catharines).

    Hope remains that with enough awareness, action, and voices heard, Bill 23 can be repealed. We ask you to act by signing Environmental Defence Canada’s petition.

    References

    City of St. Catharines. (2022). Bill 23 – More Homes Build Faster Act. Retrieved December 14, 2022, from https://www.stcatharines.ca/en/planning-and-development/bill-23.aspx#Response-and-Recommendation

    Cloverdale Mall. (2022). The proposed Cloverdale. Retrieved December 14, 2022, from https://www.cloverdalemall.com/futureofcloverdale/proposed-cloverdale/

    Rideau Valley Conservation Authority. (2022). Bill 23: Less Protection, More Cost, Diminished Local Decision-Making. Retrieved December 14, 2022, from https://www.rvca.ca/media-releases/bill-23-less-protection-more-cost-diminished-local-decision-making#:~:text=Bill%2023%20proposes%20sweeping%20changes,over%20the%20past%20two%20years%E2%80%9D.

     

  • Sustainable Transportation Options at Brock

    By: Sanjida Amin

    Sustainable transportation is one of the key considerations in protecting environment and preventing climate change. Carbon emission and climate change are major issues that have been addressed globally and it is our collective responsibility to find ways to contribute to reduce carbon emissions. One of the ways we can do this is by adopting sustainable means of transportations in our everyday lives. Brock University is committed to promoting sustainable transportation, by offering more environment friendly means of transportations which may reduce on campus carbon emissions by a significant percentage. According to Natural Resource Canada,  passenger vehicles are one of the major contributors of local greenhouse gas emissions. Apart from single-passenger vehicles, there are many alternatives to allow individuals to still travel but in a more sustainable way. Let’s explore some of these transportation offerings below:

    Choose Your Sustainable Transportation

    Public Transportation

    Niagara Region and St. Catharines Transit is offering public transportation facilities to the students of Brock University through the Universal Bus Pass. Most of the city routes are covered by this transportation facility and students, staffs, faculty can use this option, rather than using personal vehicles. The bus goes inside the campus in a regular interval. Both undergraduate and graduate students qualify for a universal bus pass, which provides them with the opportunity to get access to St. Catharines, Thorold, Niagara Falls, Welland, Fort Erie, Pelham and the Niagara Regional Transit Systems. So, leaving the personal vehicles at home and using the transit service can reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainable transportation behavior. Each stakeholder of Brock University can make great positive impact on climate change by adopting transit services whenever possible.

    Biking

    Biking is fun way to get from one place to another. It is also physically refreshing and is one way we can fit exercise into our day. Biking is an environmentally sustainable behavior as it saves gas, fuel and reduces overall carbon emissions by a lot. For every 7 kilometers travelled by bicycle as opposed to driving a car, one kilogram of CO2 emissions is saved, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. According to the same UN report, cycling saves 150 grammes of CO2 for every kilometer travelled as opposed to driving.

    It occupies small portion of roads, thus reduce traffic congestions and carbon emissions while remain stuck in roads. Brock University promotes biking by offering the superb cycling facilities inside the campus area. There are over 30 bike racks on the main and east campus that students, staffs and faculty can use in order to safely secure bikes. There are also cycling lanes just outside of the campus area on main roads which offer dedicated and safe biking experiences. Please see this page to learn more about cycling paths near Brock.

    Electric Vehicles

    Electric Vehicles are modern means of transportation that are reducing our reliance on gass and oil and subsequently reducing the emission of carbon dioxide. Brock University is promoting this environment friendly and sustainable transportation option by offering on campus charging stations for electronic vehicles. There are now 22 ports across 13 stations around campus for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) and Electric Vehicles (EVs) to charge the battery while parked. To know more about charging points please visit parking services page. The stations are a 90 Amp unit that provides up to 90 kms of travel on a one-hour charge on select e-vehicles. It has also different indicators to show status of charging.

    Walking and Other Activity Based Transportations

    Walking or inline skating is highly beneficial to health and also offers to get fresh air which can make you mentally refresh in comparison to driving own vehicle. These options produce little to no emissions while offering alternative means of transportation specially those who stay on campus or nearby to the campus area.

    Take Action Today

    Choosing sustainable transportation options is just one of the ways you can reduce your carbon emissions and have a collective positive impact on climate change. Leaving your own vehicles at home and instead choosing public transportation, biking or deciding to walk even two times a week can make significant impact. To know more, please visit Sustainable Transportation Options at Brock.

  • Let’s incorporate sustainability into our food choices!

    By: Sanjida Amin

    Fresh produce displayed in reusable bags.

    Worldwide food production and consumption are related to major ecological impacts and environmental degradation that we are facing, such as severe water pollution, air pollution, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, loss of biodiversity and natural resources.  Sustainable food and agriculture is one of the significant elements required to achieve certain United Nations Sustainable Development Goals  (SDGs). Several of the SDGs are directly being connected to consumption and food systems, including SDG 1- No Poverty, SDG 2 – Zero Hunger, SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-Being, and SDG 12- Responsible production and consumption.

    Since we all consume food every day multiple times each day, the foods we choose to eat may create opportunities for us to promote sustainability! Sustainable food consumption reflects our lifestyle by showing how as an individual can consume more responsibly, eat healthy, prevent food waste, encourage local buying and support community-oriented farming to help lower carbon footprint and contribute to the healthily eco-systems. Here is the list of few things that you may consider while shopping at the grocery store to consume sustainably:

    Buying seasonal foods: Purchase food items that are in-season which means eating the fruits, vegetables, and seeds that are naturally grown in abundance during a particular time of every year. Check this post to learn more about how you can buy local and sustainably.

    Opt for locally-produced items: Always check the Foodland Ontario guide for logos before purchasing and check out your local farmers market.

    Looking for sustainable alternatives: Try to choose a plant-based protein option instead of having an animal-based food for all of your dishes you enjoy or look for options with sustainable certifications. When you can, search for products which are organic, green and eco-friendly in nature.

    Reducing food waste: Take your immediate steps to reduce waste at home like having a leftover meal, shopping consciously (with a grocery list), storing food appropriately, and reminding yourself to utilize fresh produce before it spoils. Also don’t forget to compost your food scraps!

    Checking for eco label: Always look for the eco-labels or packaging information to understand the ingredients in the food you are consuming and see if the and if the food criteria such as Certified Organic or Fair Trade. Check this page to see how Brock University embraces Fair trade policy and to know where to find fair trade products at Brock University.

    Engage in gardening and share with your community: Nothing is fresher than picking your own garden produce. So engage yourself with harvesting and gardening. Visit here to learn more about Brock University seed library and information regarding seed availability, planting, and growing.

    Finally, we understand that achieving sustainable food systems are complex problem however, there are many innovative ways you can take action in your daily life to ensure you are eating a bit more sustainability. Keep in mind that that all the small actions we’re able to take individually add up to bigger changes, as our collective efforts in these different avenues are crucial for making an impact overall.

  • Students in ADST 5P70 Participate in Sustainability Challenge

    By: Kassie Burns

    Screenshot containing challenge information (date range and course code).

    Students in ADST 5P70: Applied Behaviour Analysis Measurement, Research and Evaluation, have found themselves busy competing in the Blackstone Energy App Sustainability Challenge. The class has been logging sustainable actions for the last two months! Course instructor, Dr. Kendra Thomson, described the course as “a first-year course in our Masters of Applied Disability Studies (MADS) and MA in the Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) specialization in our Applied Disability Studies Department. One of the main course objectives is to give students an overview of and be informed consumers of applied and clinical research, especially in ABA”.

    When asked “why did you decide hosting a Sustainability Challenge was important to incorporate into your class”?  She replied “I have been passionate about the environment since a child of the 80s & 90s, about a decade after the first Earth Day in 1971. I was a proud member of Kids for Saving Earth and used to pick up garbage in my small town with friends in the evening for fun. I have continuously tried to be a more environmentally conscious citizen and feel that I have a responsibility as an educator to inspire interest in this topic and encourage reflection and behaviour change in students. For the last few years, I have tried to incorporate a sustainability challenge into my classes. This stemmed from observing the large amount of waste produced in our all-day weekend model classes.  In the weekend model for our part-time classes, we are in class all day, after which I noticed the garbage bins were overflowing. I challenged the students in one of my classed about 5 or so years ago to see if we could reduce the amount of waste in the bin the next class by encouraging reusable coffee mugs and lunch containers. The successful outcome was visible to all students. This grew into it becoming a self-monitoring task built into all of my courses in which students are asked to report on their sustainable behaviours between classes for bonus points. The addition of the app is a bonus!”.

    While conversing with Kendra, it was amazing to see her enthusiasm towards promoting more sustainable lifestyles and was a wonderful example of it in practice. Her class has just finished the challenge and congratulations goes to all involved with the top three leaders Thomasy You, Mikhaela Fernandez, and Arwen Hunter!

    Reflecting on the experience Arwen Hunter, Masters of Applied Disability Studies (M.ADS) student, comments “using the Blackstone app was an excellent way to digitize the drive toward sustainability. Not only did it make it easier to record our sustainability actions, it also highlighted how many ways there are to make change in your day to day life. I was excited to see how many my family had already incorporated behavioural changes and was able to adjust with relative ease. The bonus marks were a great motivator to drive change”.

    Emily Houston, Masters of Applied Disability Studies (M.ADS) student, shared “I have really enjoyed using the app to not only keep me on the right track towards sustainability, but I found it very helpful to see all the different ways to live sustainably that I wasn’t aware of. It has definitely made me more aware of my behaviour and has encouraged me to do better for our planet”.

    Overall, the challenge showed great success and promoted sustainable lifestyles for students and family. Some of the most common actions the students logged can be seen listed below!

    Sustainability Challenge actions included:

    • Using a reusable shopping bag
    • Air-dried laundry
    • Washing with cold water
    • Turning off the lights
    • Using a reusable mug
    • Turning the tap off while brushing teeth
    • Ensuring full dishwasher loads, prior to running
    • Eating local produce
    • Using a reusable lunchbox
    • Recycling/composting
    • Shuting off computer monitors
    • Skipping meat
    • Dressing for the season
    • Taking public transit
    • Eating leftovers

     

     

  • ‘Tis the Season to be Sustainable

    Tree Branch with Berries Covered in Snow

    By: Kassie Burns

    As snow starts to fall and holidays quickly approach, we thought it would be a perfect time to share 5 tips to create a more sustainable holiday season! Although holidays often bring friends and family together, it can generate incredible amounts of waste through food and décor. Luckily, there are some tips that can allow you to enjoy your company and give back to our environment!

    1. Cook for your guests and not the neighbourhood!

    If you associate turkey, lavish meals, and stuffed stomachs with winter holidays you are not alone, but it is important to consider the amount of food you make to avoid waste!

    • Try to plan ahead to know how many guests to cook for and if they plan to bring food.
    • Avoid buying in bulk and know the ingredients you have at home.
    • Think of people’s favourites so they want to eat it all and change up foods that were not a hit!
    • Tell your meal ideas to someone else to see if you might want to cut back on anything.

    2. Turn leftovers into new delicious meals!

    Sometimes leftovers are inevitable, but they do not have to be a chore to eat!

    • Have fun being creative to come up with ways to use your leftovers! For some inspiration head over to Insanely Good Recopies to turn holiday leftovers into meals you will definitely want again!
    • Try to utilize all parts of food, turkey and other meat bones are great for making delicious broths!
    • If there is food waste, make sure to compost it!

    3. Purchase ingredients locally and/or grow your own!

    • Buying local is an excellent way to help support your community!
    • Look for ethically sourced ingredients!
    • Go wild and choose plant-based ingredients only or reduce the amount of meat in your meal!
    • Visit Brock’s Seed Library to start growing your own ingredients at no cost! Things like herbs can be grown in doors anytime of the year!

    4. Leave plastic behind and decorate with organic material!

    • Why spend money on decorations this year when you can utilize beautiful pinecones, natural wreaths, assorted branch display and other greenery! After the holidays, these items can be saved or composted.
    • Save and reuse the decorations you already have!
    • Avoid using inflatable decorations to save energy (Nettos, 2020).
    • Consider alternative means of wrapping presents with cloths, tins, jars, reusable material found at home or paper!

    5. Enjoy the weather outside!

    • Skip time on screens and electronic devices and instead spend time outside this year on the amazing trails of Niagara! Click here for a list in your area.
    • Brock itself is situated on a UNESCO Biosphere and has several beautiful trails including the Bruce Trail. Learn more on trails that surround Brock here.
    • Have fun making snow angels, forts, and snow people!

    Share your sustainable winter holidays online with us @BUsustaibale on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to be highlighted on our story!

    References:

    Nettos, M. (2020, October 29). Five Tips On How to Have a Sustainable At-Home Halloween. Retrieved September 30, 2022, from https://brocku.ca/sustainability/2020/10/29/five-tips-on-how-to-have-a-sustainable-at-home-halloween/

    https://brocku.sharepoint.com/sites/ESRC2018/FM/Shared%20Documents/Communications/Photos/Campus%20-%20Outdoors/Seasonal%20Photos/Tree%20Branch%20with%20Berries%20Covered%20in%20Snow.JPG

     

    Categories: Student Contributor, Sustainability

  • Taking Climate Action

    Two hands representing earth and nature.

    By: Kassie Burns

    Day by day more horror stories continue to be released about the world being on fire or underwater and it is time we heard the earth’s plea. The International Day of Climate Action took place on October 24th, where we were all challenged to participate in taking climate change actions. We list several ways you can make a difference down below, but first we thought it is important to celebrate the climate action achievements that have been undertaken over the past year. This year alone several major accomplishments have been made and we would like to recognize the hard work and dedication given through some of the many stories that exist across campus.

    Celebrating Climate Action Achievements 2022

    The first ever Niagara Climate Change Summit was held late June that brought together partners of Brock University, the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, and hosted by the Niagara Region. The event was streamed online for all community members to view morning discussions that was followed by offline conversations of stakeholders to understand the local impact of climate change.

    International Development Week, was hosted by Brock that provided a week-long series held virtually that brought awareness to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

    Brock University continues to foster education in sustainability after the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre launched their PhD in Sustainability Science, the first of its kind in Canada. The inaugural candidates in the program started their studies this fall 2022!

    Additionally, a new program in Earth and Planetary Science Communication will be added for Fall 2023 that allows students to explore space and climate change while promoting global communication through storytelling.

    Brock University Master of Public Health student, Shannon Bird, has been developing an educational lesson plan to help engage youth in sustainability through artwork. The program allows youth to have their voice heard in conversations. She recently won the National Collaborating Centres for Public Helath Knowledge Translation Graduate Student Award for her work!

    On Earth Day, Brock University students in the course Climate Crisis raised funds to plant a Ginkgo biloba tree outside of Mackenzie Chown to help elevate some of the emissions caused from time spent on laptops.

    Baharak Razaghirad, research assistant, and Marilyne Jollineau, lead of Brock’s Lincoln Living Lab, created an urban tree canopy assessment for the Town of Lincoln in the summer. Together they communicated the socio-environmental benefits of trees, mapped current tree locations, identified priority locations in need of planting, and more to help the community adapt to climate change.

    New ground was covered in The Purdhommes Project as a workshop was held in June to develop a tool to assess multifunctional landscapes in the Town of Lincoln. It will specifically help the Town acquire criteria to establish these landscapes in hope to promote resilience and sustainable community development.

    Brock took great pride in announcing Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) was credited as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified building! The certification is recognized globally that looks for efficient energy in carbon and green buildings, which is especially difficult to achieve with older structures.

    We hosted two sustainability challenges this year to encourage Brock students to participate in sustainable actions by everyday lifestyle choices. The challenge gave students the opportunity to track actions that also brought awareness to the impact individual actions. Together the last challenge alone saved approximately 15,000 kg of CO2, diverted 1,100 kg of waste from landfills and saved 128,000 L of water!

    Two Brock University Master of Sustainability candidates received a grant from the World Wildlife Fund – Canada (WWF) to form a seed library. The seeds are available at James A. Gibson Library on campus free of charge! Students are kindly asked to plant the seeds and then return harvested seeds from the plants they have grown to continue the cycle. The library helps collect and distribute rare and native seeds to promote genetic diversity in the region!

    This year the winners of the Sustainability Poetry Contest was announced at a virtual event that created an inspirational discussion on sustainability and promotes the power of language in art.

    A webinar series to discuss the climate emergency and sports through a partnership with Brock University’s Centre for Sport Capacity and University of British Columbia’s Centre for Sport and Sustainability took place in February. The conversation took a critical lens at how sports will be impacted by the climate crisis and how to offset changes.

    Initiatives to Take Climate Action

    Everyone can act on climate change; see how you can participate today with some easy initiatives from the United Nations!

    1. Eat more vegetables
    2. Walk bike or take public transit
    3. Throw away less food
    4. Consider an electric vehicle
    5. Try repairing items instead of replacing them
    6. Reduce the amount you travel by airplane
    7. Use less water (be mindful of shower times, turn the tap off while brushing teeth, and use appropriate laundry load sizes)
    8. Be aware of eco-conscious products/services
    9. Save energy at home (unplug electronics, dress appropriately to lower heating/cooling, use LED light bulbs, wash clothes with cold water and hang them to dry)
    10. Let your voice be heard (seek out climate strikes, join clubs, vote for people who support the environment)

    Whether it is joining climate rallies or using less water, we all have the power to make a difference each and every day! Tag us at BUsustainable to shows how you are taking action and making a difference in your community.

    References

    United Nations. (N/A). Start with these ten actions. Retrieved October 12, 2022, from https://www.un.org/en/actnow/ten-actions

     

    Categories: Climate Change, Student Contributor

  • Brock Students embraced Welcome Back Sustainability Challenge

    By: Sanjida Amin

    Every day we make choices in our lives that affect the environment around us whether it be the food we intake or how we choose to get to work or school. Leading a sustainable lifestyle and showing how we are environmentally responsible is a significant step towards taking climate action.

    The university hosted another Welcome Back Sustainability Challenge on the week of September 12th – 16th, 2022 wherein Brock students choose to take part in a sustainability challenge and steps in their daily lives to make small, sustainable changes. Brock University partnered with Blackstone energy services to engage the students in contributing to a sustainable campus and to easily integrate sustainable solutions into everyday life through an innovative and interactive app. To participate in the competition, students were motivated to track their daily sustainable habits over a period of five days through using the unique Blackstone Energy EcoBoss app.

    The actions were simple and daily life hacks included using reusable water bottles, turning off lifes, turning off water while brushing, recycling, using public transportation, etc. The rules of the competition to participate were straight forward: Students were required to join challenge and log all sustainable actions made throughout the day on the Blackstone Energy app to accumulate points and to compete for prizes. Prizes were given to the students who placed in the top 10 by accumulating the most points included an Apple iPad, an Apple Watch, AirPods, $75 campus store gift cards and five $20 Campus Store gift cards for those who placed 6th to 10th, which were donated by the Campus Store. Those in the top five were placed in a draw for the three apple prizes and our winners are highlighted below. Students from a variety of disciplines and programs, ranging from business and education to science and the arts, participated in the competition and actively engaged throughout the event.

    Through all of the actions logged into the app, total impact, which were estimated by the EcoBoss app, including the following:

    • 6 thousand kg. in CO2 savings
    • 1,073 kg. in waste diverted
    • 1 thousand litres in water savings

    The prime objective of the Welcome Back Sustainability challenge was to demonstrate and make students realize that how easy it is to contribute to the environment through impactful sustainable choices on a regular basis. Moving forward, there are plans to host more sustainability challenges competitions periodically to motivate the students to continue their eco-friendly actions to minimize the usage of natural resources, reduce carbon footprint and contribute to healthy eco-systems.

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

  • 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.