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  • How to Reduce Waste During Online School

    Blog Contributor: Mikellena Nettos

    Waste reduction is difficult and becomes increasingly more difficult when paired with a global pandemic. Being home all day without routine can bring out old and unsustainable habits. Therefore, here are five tips on how to reduce waste during online school or even working from home. Keep in mind these are only suggestions, and it’s okay if you are unable to follow them. Don’t be too hard on yourself, everyone is only doing what they can in hard times like these.  

    Invest in reusables  

    If you don’t already have one, invest in a coffee maker instead of ordering delivery Starbucks delivery every day. This will not only save you money long term, you can help reduce the amount of non-reusable coffee cups that go into the landfill because they can be difficult to recycle. 

     Did you know that it takes 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water to make one ton of paper towels?. Instead of buying paper towels, buy reusable/washable cloths. Since you are home more often, you might use more paper towels than you used to. However, since you have the extra time why not invest in cloths that you can wash instead?! If you want to go the extra mile, just you can make cloths out of old tattered clothing, or if you don’t want to do the extra laundry, try to only buy paper towel made from 100% recycled paper!   

    Try and reduce food waste  

    Bulking buying can save money, but it can also waste money if the food isn’t eaten before it expires. A way to combat this is to buy more non-perishables or freezer items; examples are canned foods, dried meats, or grains. Additionally, you can put the food that is close to expiry at the front of your fridge to remind yourself to eat it first! Another food saving tip is learning how to properly store fresh produce. Also, don’t forget to compost when you are done with food scraps! 

    Unplug 

    Leaving your phone or laptop chargers plugged in all the time can end up using a lot of energy over time. Additionally, it can be a safety hazard in the case of power surges. A quick solution to this is a power-bar with an on/off switch if you don’t want to go through the trouble of unplugging all the time.  

    Additionally, not only does unplugging save energy, it can also increase mental health. Instead of watching Netflix or mindlessly scrolling through social media between classes, go on a walk or bike ride! Research shows that exercise (especially exercise within/around nature) increases perceived mental well-being, so don’t skip the walk!  

    Go for walks instead of drives 

    As previously mentioned, walks outside can significantly increase mental well-being. So, when you need a change of scenery from being stuck in your house, opt for a walk instead of aimlessly driving around. It’s better for your body and the planet because walks thankfully don’t require the combustion of greenhouse gases.  

    Make food with loved ones instead of ordering take-out 

    Making food can be particularly hard as a student, especially if you share the kitchen with multiple people. Instead of all creating individual meals, or all ordering takeout, try and cook meals together. This can increase well-being because you are spending quality time with roommates or family and creating a dish for you all to share. Eating together can also reduce the sense of isolation that some can feel due to this new virtual world. If you do order takeout, remember to opt out of receiving plastic cutlery, and use utensils from home instead!  

    Don’t forget little changes go a long way! We hope everyone if adjusting well and staying safe during this difficult time.  

    References 

    Canadian Produce Marketing Association. (2020, June 30). How to Store Fruits and Veggies. Half Your Plate. https://www.halfyourplate.ca/fruits-and-veggies/store-fruits-veggies/ 

    Kender, D. U. T. (2020, January 29). Myth vs. fact: Unplugging devices when you leave the house. USA TODAY. https://eu.usatoday.com/story/money/columnist/2019/11/27/unplugging-devices-when-not-use/4192100002/ 

    Hasselberger, L. (2015, January 6). 13 Facts about Home Paper Products that May Inspire You to Hug a Tree. DrGreene.Com. https://www.drgreene.com/perspectives/13-facts-about-home-paper-products-that-may-inspire-you-to-hug-a-tree 

    Maas, J. (2006). Green space, urbanity, and health: how strong is the relation? Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health60(7), 587–592. https://doi.org/10.1136/jech.2005.043125 

    Reducing Waste: What You Can Do. (2020, September 4). US EPA. https://www.epa.gov/recycle/reducing-waste-what-you-can-do 

  • 5 Netflix Documentaries for the Eco-Conscious

    Blog Contributor: Shannon Ruzgys

    Documentaries are a great way to educate and inspire yourself and there is no shortage of wonderful documentaries about the environmentThese 5 Netflix documentaries are a must watch for anyone who has hope for a better future.  

    Kiss the Ground  

     

    Modern day industrial agriculture is degrading our environment through tillage, heavy pesticide use, and mono-cropping (just to name a few). These practices lead to soil erosion, which not only immediately threatens global food security, but is also irreversible. This documentary proposes a solution, regenerative farming, an ethical practice that prioritizes animal health, restoring degrading lands, and drawing down carbon. Told from the perspective of scientists, farmers, activists, and politiciansthis documentary provides hope for a better farming system that can heal the soil, balance our climate, and feed people all at the same time. 

    Our Planet  

     

    This documentary contains all the things we’ve grown to love from nature docs such as Planet Earth and Blue Planet, while also choosing to focus more on how humans are altering the natural world around us and the impact that we’re having on biodiversity worldwide. There are 8 episodes that each focus on a different ecosystem, while highlighting how climate change uniquely impacts each of these environments. In David Attenborough’s words “[This] series will explore the Earth’s most important habitats and celebrate the life they still support. We will reveal what must be preserved if we are to ensure a future where humans and nature can thrive” 

    Rotten

     

    While this is not explicitly an environmental documentary, this Netflix show, which currently has two seasons, focuses on the problems in our food supply chain. Each episode focuses on a different food product, exposing the corruption, waste, and social impacts of the foods we choose to eat. The issues with our global food supply chain run deep but as consumers we have the power to choose what we want to support by what we put on our plates three times a day. This series is a great tool for educating yourself on how to be a more ethical grocery shopper (even if that means leaving avocados off your morning toast).  

    The Biggest Little Farm

    This documentary follows a couple and their dog on their journey to restore 200 acres of dry, nutrient depleted farmland into a healthy farmable ecosystem using nature-based regenerative solutions. Viewers follow them on their journey as they turn 200 acres of desert into a utopia that utilizes the power of a healthy ecosystem to farm with nature. Throughout almost a decade of work they plant 10,000 orchard trees, over 200 crops, and bring in animals of every kind. It is an inspirational documentary that demonstrates how farming can be done in a way that benefits animals, people, and the environment.  

    David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

     

     This documentary is David Attenborough’s witness statement where he states his concern for the state of our planet and his hopes for a better future. Throughout the documentary he narrates key moments in his life all the while showing human population growth, carbon in the atmosphere, and the percentage of intact wilderness within the scale of his own lifetime. He emphasizes that nature currently faces two great challenges: climate change and massive loss of biodiversity. This documentary is not only a testament of Attenborough’s life’s work but also carries a dire warning for the future and a hopeful way forward through the restoration of the natural world.  

     

  • Brock Cares Event with WWF-Canada Showcases the Impact of Student Action

    Blog Contributor: Shannon Ruzgys

    On October 27th Brock Cares hosted an event called Conserving our Environment and Increasing Biodiversity Through Student Action” where viewers were joined by Kathy Nguyen, Specialist of Engagement at WWFCanada and Connor Thompson,  graduate of Brock’s Master of Sustainability program.  

    The presentation started with an overview of the current state of the environment and wildlife in Canada, which is unsurprisingly grim. Canada is currently warming at a rate 2x faster than the rest of the world, and that rate rises to 3x faster in Canada’s arctic. However, there were hopeful notes about Canada’s vast amount of untouched wildness and our duty to ensure it stays that way.  

    From there, Kathy and Connor launched into Brock’s exciting new partnership with WWF-Canada called the “Living Planet @ Campus Program”, where through volunteering and academics, students can earn the Living Planet Leader certification. This is a nationally recognized self-guided certification that includes 4 requirements to receive the certification: personal application of sustainability, volunteerism, application of sustainability in academics, and leadership and teamwork. 

    Brock graduate Connor Thompson was one of the first students to receive the Living Planet Leader certification in Canada. He explained that when he was entering the job force, he was looking for something that would differentiate himself from other candidates and that being a Living Planet Leader was extremely useful in doing so. He also talked about how completing the certification was an enriching experience that provided him with useful skills and experiences.  

    This certification is meant to enrich your overall academic experience and you have up to three months after graduation to complete it. If you want to learn more about WWF-Canada and how to get involved in the Living Planet @ Campus Program through the Living Planet Leader certification, click here.

  • Five Tips On How to Have a Sustainable At-Home Halloween

    Blog Contributor: Mikellena Nettos

    Halloween is just around the corner and even though we are unable to celebrate together, we can still celebrate at home! Brock is working with the Niagara community to encourage a safe Halloween and we thought we might add to that conversation by taking about sustainability. Holiday celebrations can lead to a lot of waste, from tacky plastic dollar store decorations to millions of pumpkins simply discarded incorrectly. That being said there, are a lot of ways we can have more sustainable at-home celebrations! Here are five tips on how to incorporate sustainability into your Halloween celebrations:

    1. Decorations: Instead of buying decor, create them using old clothes, or decorate using compostable items
      • Use old stockings with runs for spider webs (WWF, 2020).
      • Decorate with pumpkins, gourds, leaves and other compostable or edible items (Recyclebank, 2017).
      • Ifyou do buy non-compostable/non-recyclable items, be sure to keep them as decorations for every year! #ReuseReduceRecycle
      • Make your own scarecrow on your front lawn instead of blow-up decor which consumes a lot of energy.
    2. Purchase locally grown pumpkins or grow your own!
      • Don’t forget to compost them or use them to make pumpkin pie or bread (Harvard, 2015)!
      • Save the seeds for a tasty treat, you can find easy recipes all over the internet or even create your own!
      • Painted pumpkins are unfortunately not compostable, so if you don’t want to carve it, dress it up with a fun hat or scarf (Recyclebank, 2017)!
    3. Buy organic treats without plastic wrappers if possible!
      • Because we are not encouraging trick or treating this year, try making your own treats!
      • Try to avoid buying boxed candy sets as they are each individually wrapped with plastic that is not recyclable!
    4. Watch Halloween movies online with friends by using streaming platforms like Netflix Party or sharing your screen on Teams!
      • This is a great way to celebrate the Halloween spirit while staying safe!
      • Some great Halloween movies can be found here.
    5. Make your own costume!
      • Instead of buying a costume you are only going to wear one time, make your own by hand or thrifting (WWF, 2020).
      • Another idea is to use/buy clothing you know you will wear again in the future!
      • You can also rent costumes where available or participate in a costume swap with family or friends (be sure to maintain social distancing when doing so, and don’t forget your masks!)

    If you engage with these tips, we encourage you to share the ways you implemented a more sustainable Halloween and tag #BUSustainableHalloween and @BUSustainable to be featured on our story! Have a happy and safe Halloween, Badgers!

     

    References:

    Harvard Green Team. (2015, June 22). 6 tips for a greener Halloween. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://green.harvard.edu/tools-resources/green-tip/6-tips-greener-halloween

    Recyclebank. (2017, October 23). 29 Fun Ways To Have A Happy, Sustainable Halloween. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://livegreen.recyclebank.com/29-fun-ways-to-have-a-happy-sustainable-halloween

    Staff, C. (2020, September 20). Your Guide to the Best Halloween Movies of All Time. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://www.countryliving.com/life/entertainment/g3624/best-halloween-movies/?slide=1

    WWF. (2020). 10 Green Halloween Tips. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://www.worldwildlife.org/pages/10-green-halloween-tips

  • Brock and WWF-Canada Care About Conservation, Biodiversity, and Student Action

    Plastic Pollution In Ocean – Turtle Eat Plastic Bag – Environmental Problem

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper 

    On October 27th from 11-12:15pm EST, Sustainability at Brock and WWF-Canada will be hosting a Brock Cares event to engage students in conservation, biodiversity, and student actions that make a positive difference on the Brock campus and the environment. This event will highlight the new Living Planet @ Campus partnership between Brock and WWF-Canada that provides students with the opportunity to address issues relating to the crises of biodiversity loss and climate change.  

     The speakers for the event include Kathy Nguyen, Specialist of Engagement at World Wildlife Fund-Canada (WWF-Canada) and Connor Thompson, Brock Master of Sustainability graduate.  

     Kathy will explain how WWF-Canada engages in conservation, biodiversity, and habitat protection initiatives that align with the organization’s long-term vision of “creating a world where people and nature thrive”. Kathy will also discuss Living Planet @ Campus, which allows students to be leaders in conservation efforts on campus and earn WWF-Canada’s nationally recognized Living Planet Leader self-guided certification. 

     As one of the first people in Canada to receive WWF-Canada’s Living Planet Leader certificate and a recent Brock graduate, Connor will provide a unique student perspective on his experience completing the certification and how engaging in conservation activities impacted him. This will help other students further understand how they can get involved in conservation initiatives too through volunteerism, academic work, and leadership to name a few. 

     All students are welcome to the event to learn more about how they can make a positive environmental impact at Brock, in the community, and even globally. Click this ExperienceBU link to register for this great event!  

  • Update to the Niagara Region Garbage Retrieval Schedule 

    Blog Contributor: Mikellena Nettos

    In case you missed itNiagara Region will be updating their garbage retrieval schedule effective October 19th, 2020. Instead of putting your garbage out once per week, you will now only be able to set out two bags or cans once every other week. The region will still collect recycling bins and compost bins weekly, which allows people to shift their waste towards recycling and compost bins instead of the garbageAccording to the regional website, more than half of the average garbage bag in Niagara contains materials that could have been recycled or composted.  

    What can you do to reduce your waste?  

    • Order less take out. Most containers and plastic bags used to deliver food end up in the garbage instead of being properly disposed of. 
    • Make sure to rinse recyclable materials before placing them in the bin. Did you know that greasestained carboard goes into the compost, not the recycling bin? 
    • Know which bin it belongs in – if you are unsure which bin an item belongs in click here  
    • Put all food waste in the compost to avoid rotting garbage. No one wants to deal with smelly garbage for two weeks. 
    • Follow zero waste pages on Instagram or twitter for helpful tips! 

    Additionally, here is a link to a previous post that shares tips on how to “Recycle Like a Pro” in Niagara.  

    Do the right thing – reduce, reuse, and recycle.  

    Together we can make the world a cleaner place. 

  • 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

  • Reducing Reliance on Single-Use Plastics After Covid-19

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper 

    The spread of Covid-19 has changed the lives of millions of people around the globe in significant ways that will stay with them for a long time. Among many other things, the virus has made us more appreciative of family, friends, food, shelter, and essential employees such as grocery store and healthcare workers. As a Master of Sustainability candidate, it has been an interesting time to navigate through as single-use plastics become essential to avoiding the spread of the virus. That being said, as society begins to settle into a new “normal”, my hope is that innovation and strategic problem solving allow us to remain environmentally sustainable in times of extreme uncertainty in the future.  

     Living in a world that is suddenly more reliant on disposal gloves, masks, cups, cutlery, and bags than ever before can make it difficult to imagine what sustainability will entail for people and businesses post-pandemic. When chains like BulkBarn, Tim Hortons, and Starbucks began banning reusable containers and mugs, it was imperative to do so for hygiene reasons in this unprecedented time, but I couldn’t help but think about other (non-single-use plastic) solutions. Of course, at the time this was the appropriate action to take to ensure the health and safety of all employees and customers, and I understand that sustainability is far from top-of-mind during a global pandemic. That being said, fears of germs will continue to linger in people’s minds, and innovation is crucial to continuing on a path of sustainability for our planet. Although it can be discouraging to think about the increase use of and reliance on single-use plastics during this time, sustainability science is founded on being collaborative, innovative, solution-oriented, and being able to persevere when complexity arises. I strongly believe that this pandemic will encourage even more innovation in order to promote environmental sustainability in a safe and effective way for years to come.  

     To lessen the burden on our planet and waste management systems, mvision for post-pandemic times is that innovation is the key to allowing us to bring our own reusable materials to stores and coffee shops. There are definitely ways to reduce the reliance on single-use plastics while ensuring the health and safety of all by using technology and science. For example, I imagine grocery stores, bulk co-ops, restaurants, and cafés having technology-driven “sanitization stations” where customers must disinfect their hands and reusable products as they walk into a given establishment. Once this step is complete, they can safely use their bags, cups, or containers without fears of germs and contamination.   

    There also are ultraviolet (UV) disinfection devices that have been proven to eliminate up to 97.7% of pathogens in medical equipment found in operating rooms, as reported in this study by the American Journal of Infection Control. Devices with UV light technology could be used to sanitize parts of public places as well as personal belongings brought into public places (such as mugs or reusable bags) to reduce the spread of all germs. This type of device would make customers and employees more comfortable with the use of reusable products, thus providing a more sustainable option for eco-conscious consumers  

    Although there are many unanswered questions surrounding the virus, I believe that complex technological solutions will provide organizations and individuals with the ability to continue leading a sustainable lifestyle. This will require patience, collaboration, and strategic decision-making as companies learn how to run the essential parts of their businesses amid uncertainty. It may seem as though sustainability has been completely thrown out the window during this pandemic, but I am confident that organizations will continue to prioritize it once possible, and maybe place even more importance on it than ever before. Instead of remaining discouraged about the influx of plastic waste being disposed of, I think it’s important to make a conscious effort to focus on the innovation and strategic problem solving that will come to the world of sustainability and help us all be better environmental stewards.  

  • Lessons from a Pandemic

    Blog Contributor: Nolan Kelly 

    Living in the age of this pandemic has been a very stressful and uncertain time for the entire world. The collaboration and commitment from people across the world for a common goal of flattening the curve and slowing the spread of this virus has been unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life. As a Master of Sustainability candidate, I fully understand that life as a student right now can be very difficult and the prospects of not knowing when things will return to normal again is very unsettling. While everyone would love to feel a sense of normalcy again, this is also an important time to reflect and assess what our definition of normal truly was. COVID-19 is going to have a mass ripple effect on our society and the way we live moving forward. Even though there will be challenges, and significant repercussions of this pandemic, there also exists a window of opportunity for change (Geels et al., 2017). At the global scale right down to local and personal levels, there are opportunities that exist and lessons that can learned to help prevent this type of global issue and transition towards a more sustainable way of living. 

    On a global scale, we are seeing some encouraging signs of our environment recovering due to our absence (Worland, 2020). Bodies of water are becoming clear again, carbon emissions have significantly decreased in some countries, and skylines and views that have not been visible in years are showing up again (Rogers, 2020). While many are amazed to see how our world and the natural environment can recover without us, it should serve as an eye-opening look at the negative impact our way of life has had on the planet. We should see this as a red flag and warning from our planet that it does not need us, but we very much need all of the resources our planet provides to us. While many of these positive environmental comeback stories will likely fade as regular life and business as usual return, hopefully this will serve as a wake-up call to humanity that wneed stronger environmental policies and more importantly action (United Nations, 2020)Our society is reliant on the environment for our survival, this pandemic is providing evidence that the pathway we are on is simply unsustainable.  

    The pandemic has brought light to environmental impacts that make pandemics and viruses like COVID-19 more frequent (United Nations, 2020). While virus related pandemics are hard to predict (and in some cases) prevent, factors such as deforestation, illegal wildlife tradewildlife markets and factory farm practices all increase the likelihood of zoonotic viruses occurring (Osaka, 2020). Working towards stronger environmental regulations and practices worldwide is definitely a practice the entire world can be on board with moving forward. Right now, people across the globe are committed to flattening the curve and stopping the spread of COVID-19While the circumstances are unfortunate it shows that we can come together and unite for a common goalThe pandemic has successfully showed us how much our collective action could make a difference worldwide. This is the type of global unity that is needed to tackle existential issues such as climate change that will affect everyone. This sense of togetherness should remain strong after the pandemic ends in hopes that people, governments, and entire countries make decisions based on everyone’s wellbeing and with the future in mind. This pandemic should also encourage people to be more educated and involved when it comes to global issues moving forward. Too oftenan issue needs to be right in front of someone before they takeaction or care about it, but this should not be the case. While viruses can develop quick and result in a pandemic, global issues such as climate change represent more of a slow burnwhich is why education and being informed can have a real impact to addressing these global issues. 

    On a smaller more individual scale, there are many actions and steps that can be adopted and learned moving forward. One of them, as many people have found out quite abruptly is the ability to be more self-sufficient. Things that seemed so normal before this pandemic such as going to the grocery store and shopping for clothes changed drastically with COVID-19. Not only can becoming more selfsufficient help you in tough situations such as these but it can also be much more sustainableFor example, those who have the resources to grow vegetables at home or create their own clothing could try to do so.  We should value each item we bring into our homes and think about reusing and repurposing household items we may have once just tossed away. We should use this as an opportunity to become more resourceful with the everyday goods we have readily available; instead of throwing away sauce jars, we now reuse them for leftovers instead of needing to go out and buy another product. People have gotten so use to going to the one stop shops and large chains to simplify their shopping needs, but we have lost sight of supporting our neighbors and the Canadian economy. By supporting local we would also significantly reduce our environmental footprint. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stark reminder of how precious life is and how fast our circumstances can change. The time spent in isolation will hopefully make people think about what is truly important and drive home the notion that less is more. At the end of this pandemic, appreciating family, friends, and what we already have should not fade away but instead be encouraged. 

    References 

    Geels, F. W., Sovacool, B. K., Schwanen, T., & Sorrell, S. (2017). Sociotechnical transitions for deep decarbonization. Science, 357(6357), 1242–1244. doi: 10.1126/science.aao3760 

    Osaka, S. (2020, April 1). ‘A common germ pool’: The frightening origins of the coronavirus. Retrieved from https://grist.org/climate/a-common-germ-pool-the-frightening-environmental-origins-of-covid-19/ 

    Rogers, T. N. (2020, April 20). LA’s skies are smog-free and peacocks are roaming the streets of Dubai. Photos show how nature has returned to cities shut down by the coronavirus pandemic. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/photos-show-nature-is-reclaiming-urban-areas-amid-coronavirus-2020-4#you-can-see-straight-to-the-bottom-and-fish-have-returned-to-some-parts-6 

    United Nations: COVID-19 is not a silver lining for the climate, says UN Environment chief | UN News. (2020, April 5). Retrieved from https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/04/1061082 

    Worland, J. (2020, April 1). Coronavirus Drives Pollution Dip But It Won’t Last. Retrieved from https://time.com/5812741/air-pollution-coronavirus/ 

  • 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