Student Contributor

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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