Articles by author: eharper

  • Pledging Towards Environmental Sustainability  

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    To kick off the new year, we asked students to make pledges to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable in 2020. Students who participated finished the following sentence “I pledge to…” and were encouraged to choose to commit to a big or small change to implement in their lives for the new year. Some examples (as seen below) include shopping local, talking to friends about sustainability, and taking the bus whenever possible. These pledges were (and continue to be) posted to the @BUSustainable social media accounts in hopes to reach more people. By doing so, it provides a network of followers (including students, faculty, staff, and community members) with ideas to implement sustainability into their lives in a way that works for them. This initiative many people from the Brock University community who wanted to learn more about sustainability or wanted to further their commitment to sustainability in their personal lives. It was a great opportunity to further the dialogue about the environment and sustainability at the individual level, which can influence friends, family, and even strangers. Participants were then automatically entered into a draw to win a $100 campus store gift card.  

     Our two winners are Michela, a kinesiology student, and Isamaris, a child health student. These two friends split the winnings as they pledged together to share tips with friends on how to be more sustainable. Congratulations! Keep an eye out for more pledges from the Brock community coming soon to the @BUSustainability social media pages, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  

    Categories: Recycling, Student Contributor, Study Sustainability at Brock, Sustainability, Sustainability at Brock

  • How to Recycle Like a Pro in the Niagara Region 

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    Did you know that Canada’s first blue box recycling system was tested in 1981 in Kitchener, Ontario? This program was so successful that the program was implemented citywide and now the blue bin recycling system is all over Canada and the world (with variation). Many of us grew up with recycling and rarely question whether to do it or not because it has become such a habit ingrained in our daily lives. For others, it may seem like a chore to even try to begin to understand how to recycle and what to recycle properly. Even some people who have been recycling for years can remain confused or doubtful about what can and cannot be recycled. This may be because unlike composting (which is also very important), there are two different recycling boxes to choose from depending on the material of your items. This article will give you a clear guide on how to recycle like a pro in the Niagara Region!  

    Before we get started, it’s always a good idea to remember the 3 Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle. Reducing your consumption of products with unnecessary packaging and reusing containers whenever possible should be a priority whenever possible. If you can focus on reducing and reusing before recycling, you will have a lot less waste to manage which makes learning how to recycle properly even easier!  

    The first thing you need to know is that the Niagara region has two types of recycling boxes – grey and blue. They are both collected weekly and there is no limit to the amount of recycling bags or items that are placed at your curb. Residents are allowed to use any rigid and reusable containers for their curbside collection as long as it fits within the Region’s size limitations. Alternatively, you can purchase blue and grey boxes in your municipality for $6 at these locations near you.  

    Before we get into the list of acceptable items in each recycling box, it’s important to know the first general rule of recycling: rinse and clean your items before throwing them away! For example, have a bit of milk left in your milk bag or hummus left in its plastic container? Rinse it and let it air dry before you recycle it so it doesn’t contaminate the rest of your recyclables. 

    Accepted in the Grey Box: 

    • Carboard (flattened) 
    • Pizza boxes (remove food residue, oily patches and place in green bin first) 
    • Catalogues 
    • Coffee cup sleeves 
    • Plastic grocery bags (all bags must be placed into one bag and tied up to ease recycling efforts) 
    • Milk bags (rinsed) 
    • Hard cover books 
    • Magazines 
    • Paper towels (can also be placed in green bin) 
    • Plastic wrap  
    • Receipts from the store 
    • And much more, which you can find on the Niagara Region’s Waste Disposal website here 

    Accepted in the Blue Box: 

    • Aerosol cans that are empty (make sure to remove the lid) 
    • Coffee cup lids from disposable cups (the cup should be placed in the garbage) 
    • Styrofoam coffee cups 
    • Aluminum tins 
    • Empty detergent jugs 
    • Hard plastics (e.g. the ones used to make cups or plates) 
    • Egg cartons 
    • Food and beverage cartons 
    • Plastic fruit cup containers 
    • Glass bottles and jars 
    • Ice cream tubs and lids 
    • Juice boxes 
    • Plastic bottles 
    • Steel cans 
    • Shampoo and conditioner bottles 
    • And much more, which you can find on the Niagara Region’s Waste Disposal website here

    Not Recyclable – Place in Garbage: 

    Some items seem recyclable, but because they may be difficult to identify during the recycling process, they are not. For example: 

    • Loose plastic water bottle caps (too small) 
    • Items that cannot be cleaned of food and liquid residue 
    • Hand lotion “squeeze tubes” (only the plastic containers for hand lotion can go in the blue box) 
    • Plastic seal from ice cream tubs 
    • Outer plastic packaging of a cookie box  
    • Water bottle filters 

    As you can see, there is a lot to learn about what can and cannot be recycled in the Niagara Region as well as which bin recycles must be disposed in. Thankfully, the Region’s website is extremely helpful and even allows you to type in the name of an item to find out how to dispose of it. Click here to learn more about recycling and the waste disposal services offered to you from large item collections to hazardous waste disposal. Make sure to recycle responsibly to make sure that your items are in a condition that ease the recycling process and happy recycling!  

    Categories: Recycling, Sustainability, Sustainability at Brock

  • Building a Way to Environmental Sustainability: LEED 

    Blog Contributor: Nolan Kelly 

    We spend the majority of our lives in buildings, yet we often give very little thought when it comes to the design, construction, or impact that these buildings have on our lives and the environment. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or as it’s commonly known “LEED” is the most widely used green building rating system in the world, available for virtually all building, community, and home-project types. LEED has proven to be a pathway towards addressing climate change and creating buildings that are more resource-efficient, healthy, and resilient. LEED projects emphasize the importance of sustainability in all buildings, whether it is in the design, construction or operation. LEED projects can also take form in many different shapes, sizes, and purposes ranging from a small local building, to university campuses to NHL sized arenas (CGBC, 2019). Energy and water savings, recycling, greenhouse gas reductions, and green roofs are just some of the ways in which following LEED standards can improve new and existing buildings. This is important because there is no denying the impact that buildings have on the environment. It is estimated that buildings generate nearly 30% off all greenhouse gas emissions, up to 35% of all landfill waste comes from construction and demolition of buildings, and up to 70% of all municipal water is consumed in and around buildings (LEED, 2020).  

    The Plaza and International Centre building at Brock University are both Silver LEED certified. The Plaza Building, built in 2006, incorporated a unique system of heating and cooling by utilizing the precast hollow core concrete floor slabs for stored thermal mass and fresh ventilation air as part of the ThermoDeck System. This system has resulted in a higher degree of indoor air quality through this ventilation system as well a 33% energy cost savings. The Plaza Building also uses Xeriscaping and rainwater harvesting which has led to 60% water savings. Xeriscaping is used for all the landscaping around Plaza Building which minimizes irrigation, pest control, and fertilization. The incorporation of drought resistant native species also eliminated the need for outdoor watering! The rainwater harvesting on the roof of Plaza is used to for non-potable uses such as toilet flushing and outdoor water watering. During the building of Plaza over 75% of all the construction waste was diverted from landfills due to a rigorous construction waste management plan that kept sustainability at the forefront of the entire process (Sustainability Initiatives, 2020).  

    The International Centre building built in 2010 was designed to achieve 41% in energy cost reduction compared to the Model National Energy Code for Buildings. One of the advanced water conservation features of this building is the rainwater harvesting from roof. Between the 50, 000 litre underground cistern that collects the water from the roof and the installation of water efficient plumbing fixtures, the building has an 89% wastewater reduction and 41% water use reduction. The material used in the building and furnishing of the building were also carefully selected to ensure the highest level of indoor quality was achieved (Sustainability Initiatives, 2020). If you want to learn more about LEED certification or the LEED certified buildings at Brock, visit the links below! 

    Canadian Green Building Council – LEED 

    LEED Certified Buildings at Brock University  

    References 

    Image retrieved from: https://brocku.ca/facilities-management/planning-construction/major-projects/plaza-building/

    Canadian Green Building Council – Rogers Place. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.cagbc.org/Archives/EN/CaGBC_Green_Building_Case_Studies/rogers_place.aspx 

    LEED: the international mark of excellence. (2020). Retrieved from https://www.cagbc.org/CAGBC/LEED/Why_LEED/CAGBC/Programs/LEED/_LEED.aspx?hkey=01b3d086-d0a4-42cf-9e61-7830d801c019 

    Sustainability Initiatives: Buildings. (2020). Retrieved from https://brocku.ca/sustainability/initiatives/buildings/ 

  • Brock’s Commitment to Environmental Sustainability Continues with Completion of DEEP 

    Blog Contributor: Nolan Kelly 

    On Friday February 21st Brock University celebrated the completion of Brock’s District Energy Efficiency Project (DEEP). This project was a multiyear process that took extensive planning, collaboration, an effort in order to reach completionThe aim of the project was to reduce Brock’s carbon footprint and increassustainability on campus by replacing the 25-year-old co-generation engines with state-of-the-art energy efficient units. These units provide a reliable source electricity, cooling and heating on campus. This project was made possible through federal and provincially funded upgrades to the co-generation plant that consisted of replacing eight engines with four new high-efficiency models as well as the installation of a new lithium-bromide absorption chiller and new magnetic-bearing electric chiller.  

    The first phase of the DEEP project saw Brock receive nearly $5.2 million in funding from the Government of Canada’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment as well as $5.4 million from Brock University. In Phase 1, Brock replaced half othe existing natural gas-powered co-generators with state-of-the-art, high efficiency electronically controlled units. DEEP Phase 2 started in March of 2018 and was entirely funded by the Ontario government’s $7.9-million investment as part of the Greenhouse Gas Campus Retrofits Program (GGCRP) Innovation Grant Fund, which was designed to help post-secondary institutions reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency. In this second phase the remaining co-gen engines were replaced, and a new high-efficiency electric chiller unit was installed. Through the completion of the DEEP project Brock University has significantly improved its energy efficiency, lowered its carbon emissions, and assists Brock in continuing in its commitment to meeting environmental sustainability targets. 

    The new engines are roughly 20 per cent more fuel efficient than their older counterparts and will consume roughly two million cubic metres less fuel to power the campus. The reduction is the equivalent of removing 720 small passenger cars from the road! The now completed project will result in Brock’s annual NOx (nitrogen oxide) gas emissions dropping from 55 tons to just eight tons, and non-methane hydrocarbons reducing from 15 tons to four. These new co-generation engines also consume 26 per cent less fuel per kWh produced, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in utility cost savings each year. 

    This a huge step forward for Brock in its efforts to become more environmentally sustainable and be a leader amongst universities in reducing carbon emissions. To read more about the completion of the project or to learn more about the savings associated check out the Brock News article and the Energy Conservation and Demand Management Plan below!  

    Completion of DEEP Project articles 

    Brock LINC opening signals new era of community engagement for Brock University  

    $7.9 million in provincial funding means green light for Brock’s green energy project 

    Brock University Energy Conservation and Demand Management Plan 

    Energy Conservation and Demand Management Plan 

    Reference made to article originally published in the Brock News which was written by Dan Dakin. 

    Photos: DEEP Project Launch – February 2020

  • 4 Ways to Reduce Textile Waste

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    The textile industry is infamous for being wasteful around the globe as clothing consumption grows at an astronomical rate. In fact, Fashion Takes Action, a non-profit organization working to advance sustainability in the fashion industry, reported that people are purchasing 60% more clothing than they did 20 years ago. Additionally, every year, over 100 billion garments are created around the world, which cause an overwhelming amount of waste in our landfills. This is largely due to an incredible consumer demand for fast and inexpensive fashion that are usually of very low quality. Unfortunately, this leads the average North American to contribute an average of 81 pounds of textiles to landfills every year. When clothing ends up in landfills, their synthetic fibers, similarly to plastic, do not biodegrade and release greenhouse gases while filling up valuable space in landfills. Unsurprisingly, this contributes negatively to climate change and the warming of our planet.  

    That being said, there are many actions we can take to repurpose our clothing and various textiles to ensure that they do not directly end up in landfills. Here are 5 ideas of things you can do to reduce your textile waste:  

    Donate your clothes 

    The most well-known way of reducing your clothing waste is to donate your clothing to organizations that will re-sell them in thrift stores or to various buyers interested in the material of certain textiles. Although many of us have heard of Goodwill, the Salvation Army and Value Village, there are other organizations to consider. For example, Recycling Rewards is a Canadian company that works to divert textile waste from landfills and partners with government associations, property managers and real estate companies to place donation bins around Ontario. They have a partnership with Talize Thrift Store, which is a National Thrift Retail Chain, who has agreed to purchase all the clothing collected by Recycling Rewards and its partners. We’ve reached out to Talize and they confirmed that whatever they cannot sell in their 11 thrift stores is “sent to companies for upholstery stuffing and rags, ensuring nothing ends up in landfills”. To be transparent, they also mentioned that they sell unsold clothing overseas but did not confirm where it ends up. By selling their textiles, they have raised over $400,000 for charities such as The Children’s Wish Foundation. If you’re interested in donating or to learn more about their work, visit their website by clicking here 

    Upcycle your clothing 

    UpcycleThat defines upcycling as “the act of something no longer in use and giving it a second life and new function”. It’s called ‘upcycling’ because the finished product is often more functional or beautiful than the original item. Transforming your clothing into something else can provide a nice feeling of accomplishment as you’re able to give your old garments a second chance. This is also a great opportunity to get creative, innovative and crafty as you brainstorm different ways to repurpose your clothes instead of disposing of them. You can upcycle old clothing into the following, which was inspired by Good On You, a sustainability blog: 

    • Makeup remover pads (from cotton shirts) 
    • Garment bags 
    • Reusable produce or shopping bags 
    • Pillowcases
    • Headbands (from stretchy material)
    • Reusable rags for cleaning 

    Repair (or have someone repair) your clothing 

    Whether your clothes have holes in them, have lost a button or are looking a little tired, there are many “do-it-yourself” (DIY) videos on the Internet that will help you repair your clothing. Sewing kits are (for the most part) pretty affordable and are perfect for restoring your clothes back to being good as new. If you’re looking to make larger repairs such as hemming to make your clothes fit more comfortably, you can invest in a sewing machine. Thankfully, the Ontario Textile Diversion Collaborative has created videos on how to repair various clothing articles such as replacing a drawstring, repairing a torn seam and patching a hole, to name a few. Click here to check them out! If DIY isn’t your thing, head over to your local dry cleaner and they’ll be happy to make repairs for you.  

    Resell your clothes to consignment stores

    Selling your clothes to consignment stores is a great way to earn some extra money and feel great about giving your previously loved clothing or accessories a second life! For the most part, these types of stores are (understandably) more selective about what they accept and will either pay you on the spot or pay you once a customer purchases your items. But that also means that the quality of their goods a considerably higher than a regular donations-based thrift store, as they tend to prefer trendy brand name clothing or accessories. While you sell your items, you can look around the store for gently used brand name clothing sold at a discount to reduce the demand for new fast fashion apparel. Some great stores to sell your clothes to in the Niagara region are:  

    Now that you know more about the impacts of improper disposal of textiles and what you can do to “recycle them, you can explore what method(s) work best for you. Enjoy donating, repairing, repurposing and selling your clothing!   

    Sources:  

    https://sharingdepot.ca/2018/06/worn-out-5-ways-to-mend-canadas-growing-textile-waste-crisis/ 

    https://otdc.co/ 

    http://textilewastediversion.com/how-to-donate/ 

    https://www.recyclingrewards.com/about 

    https://www.upcyclethat.com/about-upcycling/ 

    Categories: Student Contributor, Sustainability, Sustainability at Brock, Uncategorised

  • It’s Cool to Carpool to School!

    Blog Contributor: Nolan Kelly

    The Canada Games Park being built on Brock University’s campus opens the door for manexciting possibilities as it will be an invaluable athletic and research asset that will benefit thousands of lives both now and in the future. While this is great news for Brock University and the Niagara Region as a whole, the construction of the Canada Games Park means that there will be significant changes to campus over the coming years. One of the areas that is currently undergoing construction on campus is the Zone 2 Parking Lot and this has resulted in a decrease in parking availability. Due to the loss of parking availability students have been encouraged to take advantage of the buy-back program offered by Brock. While many are understandably upset and frustrated by this situation, this change has the potential to encourage students, staff, and faculty to make a more sustainable transportation choice moving forwardOne of the most sustainable and under-utilized methods is carpooling.  

    While carpooling has been around forever, the St. Catharines and greater Niagara region have not been taking full advantage of the benefits that come with this method of transportation. Due to urban sprawl and car ownership growth, traffic, pollution, and health risks are all on the rise. When it comes to most car trips, including those taken by students, most are done so by one person, which is not a sustainable mode of transportation (Demissie, de Almeida Correia & Bento, 2013). Unfortunately, the Niagara Region is not an exception to this and in in 2016, the region had the lowest overall proportion of commuters using sustainable transportation in Canada with only 20.8% of residents doing so (Statistics Canada, 2017). This is kind of surprising because according to Statistics Canada, the Niagara region had the lowest average commute time in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area in 2016.    

    With the parking changes on campus, there is no better time to consider carpooling. The benefits of carpooling are far ranging and evident as they include environmental, social, financial, convenience and health related benefits! Carpooling takes more cars off the road and as mentioned above many of these vehicles are single person commuters, this will help to reduce carbon emissions and also decrease congestion, which can also lower stress levels while driving. The social benefits that come with carpooling include riding with friends during your commute. It has been proven that your likelihood to carpool drastically increases when it’s with friends or people that you already know (Pan & Sharkey, 2017). Not only does carpooling bring people together and help the environment but it also makes financial sense as commuters can split on travel expenses and also reduce the wear and tear on your vehicle by alternating vehicles. Carpooling can also provide a more convenient option as bus schedules are often rigid and do not accommodate with everyone’s schedule. Carpooling is even better for your health, as air pollution caused by vehicular travel is linked to a number of health concerns including respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease, allergies and neurological effects. By carpooling, you help reduce these health risks for yourself and everyone else.  

     

    References 

    Demissie, M. G., de Almeida Correia, G. H., & Bento, C. (2013). Exploring cellular network handover information for urban mobility analysis. Journal of Transport Geography, 31, 164-170.  

    Statistics Canada 2017. (2017) Commuters using sustainable transportation in census metropolitan areasRetrieved from https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/as-sa/98-200-x/2016029/98-200-x2016029-eng.pdf 

    Pan, F., & Sharkey, J. (2017, July 5). The key to successful carpooling? Ride with people you actually like, say researchers | CBC News. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/university-waterloo-bissan-ghaddar-carpool-drive-road-congestion-1.4190682 

    Categories: Carpooling, Electricity, Sustainability at Brock

  • Coffee Cup Waste and Recycling Locations

    Blog Contributor: Nolan Kelly

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

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

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

    Categories: Recycling, Student Contributor, Study Sustainability at Brock

  • 20 Sustainable Resolutions for 2020

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

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

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

    Food: 

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

     Clothing: 

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

     Transportation: 

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

     Get Involved:  

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

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

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

    1) ZipCar’s 7 Ways to be More Sustainable 

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

    3) Green Eco Tips to More Sustainable Living

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

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

    Source: 

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

    Tags:
    Categories: Student Contributor, Study Sustainability at Brock

  • 6 Tips for Green Gift Giving

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

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

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

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

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

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

    Categories: Student Contributor, Study Sustainability at Brock, Sustainability

  • Sustainable Development Goals Training Day: A Reflection

    Group of students with SDG symbols

    Blog Contributor: Nolan Kelly

    On Saturday November 16th, Brock University hosted Sustainable Development Goals Training Day on campus, after months of planning and countless hours of hard work. The event was made possible through a collaboration between Sustainability at Brock, a partnership between Facilities Management and the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, and the Brock student Model United Nations Club. The focus of the event was to provide an introduction to the 17 SDGs and to highlight how we can address these goals at both the global and local level in our everyday lives. The event included an overview of the goals, a simulation to showcase the interconnectedness and implementation of the goalsand a workshop that aimed to put participants knowledge to use in addressing issues in the Niagara Region.  

    The event kicked off with an address from Brock President Gervan Fearon, where he discussed the importance of the SDGsboth globally and locally at Brock and in the Niagara region. Next, there was a presentation from Nour Hage and Kaileen Jackson, Secretary Generals of the Brock Model United Nations Club, in which they gave a complete overview of the 17 SDGs and explained the purpose and significance of the goals as well as how they all connectFollowing this, the participants watched a UN SDG video that highlighted the urgency and importance of achieving the goals followed by a video created by Brock graduate student, Nico Gadea, which highlighted how specific regions were addressing the SDGs  

    After the introduction was complete the participants were split into two different groups. One group took part in the simulation workshop and the other took part in the action-based workshop, before switching after the lunch break. The Simulation Town workshop session offered a unique opportunity for participants to expand the limits of their creativity and build teamwork and collaboration skills in the process. The simulation took place in the fictional town of Brockville and encompassed several elements that parallel real life conflicts, each specifically relating to different sustainable development goals. The rationale for creating this project was to foster an interactive environment with a great deal of replayability that stimulated learning with critical skill development. The simulation aimed at making a game that was inclusive and allowed participants of all skill levels (from high school to post grad) to feel a sense of value and contribution. It took a team of six dedicated Brock student volunteers (Alex Albano, Christina Zugno, Rachel Housser, Noah Nickel, Nour Hage, and Nico Gadea) a total of just over 200 hours throughout the span of four months to complete the project. The simulation received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from the participants and in the essence of sustainability, the simulation game along with a full set of instructions will be donated to the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation (CPI) at Brock. 

    The second workshop session was titled SDGs in Action. This workshop allowed the participants to put their knowledge to use by tackling current issues in the Niagara region. Far too often people believe issues such as poverty, public health, and education are only issues outside of Canada and that there is nothing they can do to help. However, this could not be further from reality as these issues (along with many others) are present and prevalent in Canada and more specifically in the Niagara Region. This workshop gave the participants a local perspective of these issues and showed how those in Niagara are directly affected. The goal was to show that these issues are prevalent all around us and that it takes collaboration along with multiple perspectives to work on solving these issues. After a brief slideshow highlighting the interconnectedness of the SDG’s the groups of participants were broken up into smaller groups and tasked with addressing specific local concerns at home, at work/school, and in the community. The workshop finished off with a poster presentation from the groups which highlighted their ideas. These discussions highlighted the importance of the SDG’s in our everyday lives and what steps can be taken to further advance the goals. This workshop session came to fruition through the hard work of Amanda Smits, Centre Administrator for the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, Research Assistants Erica Harper and Nolan Kelly, along with assistance from the Brock Model UN Club. 

    After all the participants had completed the workshops, Dr. Ana Sanchez concluded the event with an overview of the SDGs where she reminded everyone why they should care and take action at both the global and local levels. She stressed the importance of the interconnectedness of the goals, as you cannot achieve one goal without also addressing the othersDr. Sanchez used many real-world examples and spoke with passion as the event concluded.  

    The event was designed to educate and inspire those who attended so that they can further progress the SDGs and make a difference whether that be in their individual choices, in their community, or on a global scale. We believe this event achieved the overall goals and we could not be happier with the end result. Thank you to all the participants that came out as well as all of the organizers, guest speakers, and volunteers that made the event a resounding success!

     

    Categories: Student Contributor, Study Sustainability at Brock, Sustainability, Sustainable Development Goals