Student Contributor

  • ‘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

  • Niagara Climate Change Summit: Collaborating for a Sustainable Future

    Blog Contributor: Alexandra Cotrufo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Photos courtesy of Flashbox Photography.

    Categories: Climate Change, Student Contributor, Sustainability

  • 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

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

    Blog Contributor: Alexandra Cotrufo

    Photo: DisobeyArt / Getty Images

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

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

    Africa

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

     Asia

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

    Australasia

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

    Central and South America

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

    Europe

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

    North America

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

    Small Islands

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

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

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

    Categories: Climate Change, Student Contributor

  • Summer Wrap Up – Sustainability Coordinator Co-Op

    Blog Contributor: Elenore Breslow

    There is a long list of reasons why summer 2020 was unlike any other. The pandemic surely impacted everyone’s lives in different ways and like many of you, I spent my summer working remotely at my home office instead of working in-person 

    Even with the widespread shift to mainly remote work this summer, I still had an incredible opportunity to work as a Sustainability Coordinator co-op student from my home over 4 hours away from St. Catharines. And yes, my work-from-home setup on most days did include the traditional attire of a dress shirt, sweatpants, and no shoes. Enough about my wardrobe though…  

    The Sustainability Coordinator position was made available through the Brock University Charter Agreement with Facilities Management and the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre. Through the Charter Agreement I worked for two exceedingly knowledgeable supervisors – Mary Quintana, Director, Asset Management & Utilities for Facilities Management and Amanda Smits, Centre Administrator for the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre. 

    The pandemic may have impacted where I completed my work this summer, but the actual work I did would have been the same regardless of location. And I was fortunate enough to visit the campus at the end of the co-op term to meet everyone (in-person) on the Brock team that I worked with throughout the summer –  check out my video below from my visit, Day in the Life as a Sustainability Coordinator 

    The overall goal of the summer was to increase our knowledge of sustainability at Brock and determine baseline numbers in areas such as, GHG emissions, water use, and wasteOur team wanted to determine where does Brock do well in terms of sustainability and where are areas of improvement. To do this, we began by working on the completion of Brock’s first Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS)This was a comprehensive process that involved coordination with several different internal and external stakeholders to collect data and information regarding the 4 main categories of STARS  academics, engagement, operations, and planning & administration. The key aspect about STARS is that it is a holistic approach to measuring sustainability on campus, and then decision makers can use that information to generate new ideas in terms of strategic planning and engaging the community. Making real progress towards sustainability can be a difficult task but starting by measuring all sustainability performance on campus is a great place to start.  

    Throughout the summer I also had the opportunity to help with many other sustainability related projects including being involved more on the operations and project management side of things. I helped with projects that examined ways to adapt current infrastructure to be more sustainable and I learned about how sustainability is incorporated into current operational practices, including the District Energy System. As many of you know, Brock recently celebrated the completion of Brock’s District Energy Efficiency Project (DEEP). It is through innovative projects like DEEP that Brock continues to demonstrate its commitment to environmental sustainabilitywith the hopes of continuing to be leaders amongst universities in reducing carbon emissions.  

    I am excited to continue my journey with the Brock team until 2021 and I am eager to part of the new initiatives and projects that are beginning this fall. Keep a lookout on Sustainability at Brock’s social media accounts (@BUsustainable) to stay up to date with all things sustainability here at Brock! 

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

  • Taking an Active Role in Environmental Stewardship

    Blog Contributor: Elenore Breslow

    The Brock University community has come together to pledge to take an active role in the stewardship of the environment. During the 2019-2020 academic year a sustainability pledge banner was brought to various events across campus, including the Vendor Fair during Orientation Week, Training Events, and the Sustainable Development Goals Training Day, to provide the opportunity for the Brock community to sign and support the stewardship of the environment.

    During these events, Brock University President Gervan Fearon, several Directors from Departments across campus, and students came together to sign and pledge to take an active role in taking care of the environment. The sustainability pledge was signed on an eco-friendly banner that was made from 100% post-consumer waste from recycled plastic water bottles. Everyone who signed the banner pledged to do their part for the environment, whether that be biking to school, using a reusable water bottle, or even trying to adopt a zero-waste lifestyle.

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

  • 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?’.   

    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.  

    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.  

    To Practice Creativity

    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