Sustainability at Brock

  • 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

  • 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

  • 4 Ways to Reduce Textile Waste

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

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

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

    Donate your clothes 

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

    Upcycle your clothing 

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

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

    Repair (or have someone repair) your clothing 

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

    Resell your clothes to consignment stores

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

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

    Sources:  

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

    https://otdc.co/ 

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

    https://www.recyclingrewards.com/about 

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

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

  • It’s Cool to Carpool to School!

    Blog Contributor: Nolan Kelly

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

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

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

     

    References 

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

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

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

    Categories: Carpooling, Electricity, Sustainability at Brock

  • Doing More to Waste Less

    Blog Contributor: Nolan Kelly

    People have vowed to ditch single-use plastics by purchasing reusable alternatives. While scrapping plastic straws is a great start, it is important to remember that these popular issues are just some of the ways to help curb single-use plastic waste. Taking the extra steps necessary when it comes to producing less waste may not be as trendy as ditching the straw, but they are just as or more important. One of the biggest contributors to people’s waste generation daily, is the coffee cup. In today’s society it has become all too convenient for people to not think twice about throwing away the single use coffee cups. However, there is a very simple and obvious solution to this issue, buy a reusable coffee cup! Like the reusable water bottle, this alternative immediately cuts back on one’s waste footprint. This option often comes with 10 cent incentives from coffee serving franchises as well, so it is a win-win.

    Limiting waste and being a more eco-conscious consumer plays a big role at the grocery store. By now it is common knowledge to bring reusable grocery bags and not rely on the plastic bags they provide.  Which is a step in the right direction but certainly not the only way to limit waste at the grocery store. As a consumer it is important to recognize what style of packaging a product has and try to choose the items that do not use packaging that is unnecessary. Avoiding plastic produce bags can also easily be avoided by bringing your own reusable produce bags to minimize the amount of plastic you use every single trip.

    There are simple everyday choices that people can make including to refuse single use plastics from restaurants or stores, supporting brands and companies that work to reduce their waste, and always having an emphasis on reducing and reusing before needing to recycle. Although many of these actions may seem small, they all add up. One step that I have taken in the last year to reduce my own footprint is to bring a cutlery kit with me everywhere I go. It has a little fork, spoon, and knife all in one and fits perfectly in my bag for when I’m on the go or at school. This means that even when I am out, I have the power to avoid using single use plastic items. These everyday choices to reduce waste and become a more conscious consumer can have a big impact on an individual’s waste footprint and encourage others to make positive changes to their lifestyle as well.

    Categories: Sustainability at Brock

  • The Climate Strike: A Student’s Perspective

    Climate March - September 2019

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    Photo: Master of Sustainability students taking part in St.Catharines Climate Strike on Friday, September 27, 2019.

    Global Week for the Future took place from September 20th-27th internationally and featured strikes and marches around the globe to bring awareness to the climate crisis.  The attendees included people from all ages who came in impressive numbers to show their disapproval with the direction in which citizens, governments and corporations have taken our planet.  Most had signs made from recycled pizza boxes and Amazon packages with slogans such as “There is no planet B” and Greta Thunberg’s famous “How dare you?” line.  Reading the signs was entertaining, intriguing and sometimes disturbing, but what really captivated me were the speeches at the St. Catharines strike.

    This was my first march, protest or strike of any kind and I truly did not know what to expect, but I was excited to be attending with peers from my cohort in the Master of Sustainability program.  On Friday morning we took our signs and made our way downtown to the St. Catharines library and were surprised by the number of people who came to rally together.  It was a well-organized event with wonderful speeches from Indigenous women, community leaders, young students and people who felt compelled to speak up in the moment.  With each speech that was delivered, I got more and more emotional about the challenges that we and future generations will face.  That being said, the main message throughout the day was to look inwardly and do what you can in your own life to make small differences each and every day.

    Although it can be quite overwhelming, climate strikes are an opportunity to have our voices heard by politicians and large organizations to prioritize our planet in their various agendas.  That being said, a system change unfortunately takes longer than a personal change and it is important to self-reflect and see what we can alter in our personal lives to make our planet a greener place.

    After my experience at my first Climate Strike, I am even more motivated to learn as much as possible about Sustainability Science to make my positive mark on this planet.

    Tags:
    Categories: Climate Strike, Student Contributor, Study Sustainability at Brock, Sustainability at Brock

  • Sustainable Development Goals Training Day at Brock!

    Blog Contributor: Noah Nickel

    On November 16th at Brock University in Pond Inlet, there will be a Sustainability Development Goal Training Day workshop and conference, co-hosted by Brock Model United Nations, Brock SDG Youth Training, and the ESRC, the SDG Training Day.

    Are you interested in the Sustainable Development Goals? Do you want to make change with a global impact?

    Attend this SDG Training Day to learn about the SDGs and how you can promote sustainable development!

    The training day is comprised of an inspiring keynote from a SDG expert and two interactive, skill-building workshops. By the end of the day, you will have the necessary skills and knowledge to impact change and advance the SDGs!

    Tickets required for entry. Tickets will be $10 and will include entry into the event and your lunch. You can purchase tickets by clicking here.

    To RSVP to the event and to find out more information, check out the event page on Facebook: SDG Training Day

    Categories: Student Contributor, Sustainability, Sustainability at Brock

  • Jasper’s Summer Wrap-Up

    Blog Contributor: Jasper Fisher

    Hello, my name is Jasper, and I worked in the ESRC under the Charter Agreement with Facilities Management for the summer of 2019! While currently an undergraduate student studying Neuroscience and Gender Studies, sustainability has always been an area of personal interest of mine. Working in the Centre was a very rewarding experience for me; being able to apply my academic skills to address a topic of personal interest proved to be a very valuable learning experience that I will take with me through my academic career.

    One of the most memorable experiences that I had during my time with the ESRC was working with our team to update the Sustainability Policy. It was important to me that the concept of sustainability refer to the environment, culture, and socioeconomics.

    The most widely adopted explanation of sustainability, first claimed by the Brundtland Report, defines it as, “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Brundtland, 1987). I like how this definition emphasizes the need to balance present and future needs and development. As a major public institution, Brock has a responsibility to contribute to this balance on its larger scale.

    Implementing this definition of sustainability on an institutional level is important for taking true actionable steps towards fighting climate change, which I am proud of having had a hand in doing during my time with the ESRC at Brock. Through all the projects I’ve aided in completing during my work term, I believe that the expanded concept of sustainability in the sustainability policy was the most valuable contribution that I made.

    Categories: Student Contributor, Sustainability, Sustainability at Brock