Recycling

  • Why We Should Upcycle Before We Recycle

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper 

    In a world full of disposable materials and extreme global waste, it can be difficult to lead a sustainable lifestyle. If you are overwhelmed with the amount of waste created in your household even after making more sustainable changes, upcycling may be a good solution. Upcycling is a term first introduced by William McDonough and Michael Braungart in their book called “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things”. It is defined as type of recycling that transforms the waste materials into items of higher quality or value in relation to the original item. This type of “homemade” recycling is popular for those wishing to reduce their waste because it is a process that allows them to reuse things that they would discard and send to landfills.  

    Ultimately, upcycling is a way to reduce and slow down the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and waste management facilities to ease the impact on our planet and waste systems as much as possible. Some examples of upcycling include decorating a tin container (like one that holds chickpeas) to create a nice pot for a plant or using old hockey sticks as legs for chairs.  There are simple and more complex ways to upcycle but reusing otherwise disposable materials can be done with ease when using a bit of creativity! This article aims to give you answers to the common question ‘Why should I take the time to upcycle?’.   

    1. For the Planet 

    The first reason to upcycle is the most talked about reasonto contribute to reducing waste in landfills, oceans, parks, and waste management facilities. Not only does excessive waste in the environment harm local plant and animal species, some materials breakdown and release harmful chemicals which then causes soil degradation and seeps into the water that people and species drink. You can learn more about this topic by visiting the UN’s Environment Programme news story here. Additionally, upcycling limits trips to the store and decreases consumption behaviours as the ultimate goal is to make new items with what you have, which consequently reduces emissions and overall waste.  

    1. To Save Money 

    Since upcycling entails creating something new from an old object, you will be able to save money by repurposing items instead of buying new ones. For example, instead of purchasing an entryway organizer that can hold keys, coats and displays chalk messages, you can repurpose a window frame or old pieces of wood to create your own organizer. All you’ll need is a fresh coat of paint and some hooks! A simpler upcycling project would be to take an old mirror, clean it and paint it if desired, then use it as a chic candle tray to impress your guests. Another great idea is to use an empty tissue box as desk organizers by cutting the top off and using empty toilet paper rolls as pencil, pen, and scissor holders. By upcycling these common household items, you can save some money while impressing yourself with your creations! Check out this website for more great upcycling ideas.  

    1. To Get Creative 

    As you’ve probably realized by now, upcycling projects require some creativity and innovation. Interestingly, creativity is a skill that is valued in school and in the workplace because it allows students and employees alike to think of newer and better ways to reach certain goals. This LinkedIn Learning article describes creativity as the “most important skill in the world” because possessing this skill allows us to be better problem solvers in an everchanging world. More and more, companies and higher education institutes are looking for people who can adapt, think on their feet and keep thinking of new solutions as artificial intelligence takes over process-driven jobs. Therefore, upcycling is a great outlet to spark your creativity and continue to work on it as you ask yourself “what can I create from this object that I would otherwise throw out?”. It’s a great exercise that allows you to pain, sew, glue, cut, and colour as much as you want and it provides you with a sense of pride since you are the artist behind your new item! 

    Hopefully this introduction to upcycling gave you an idea of what upcycling is, what some examples are, and what are three main reasons to upcycle. There are many benefits of upcycling, although helping the planet through reducing emissions and slowing down the waste production in our landfills is a leading reason behind why so many people love to upcycle. Make sure to check out the resources linked above to learn more about upcycling, examples of upcycling, and the importance of creativity. Happy crafting 

     

    Categories: Recycling, Student Contributor, Sustainability, Uncategorised

  • 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

  • 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