Blog Posts

  • Brock University and Niagara College Team up to Host a Virtual Spring Clean-Up 

    Blog Contributor: Shannon Ruzgys

    Brock University and Niagara College have joined forces to host a virtual spring cleanup from Saturday, April 17th to Sunday, April 25th, 2021. The institutions have also created a virtual cleanup toolkit in order to engage and empower the community to join along.  

    With global issues such as climate change, it is easy to feel a sense of hopelessness about the environment. Taking action by cleaning up your local community is a way to be an advocate for sustainability, while also creating a sense of hope that small actions can help target big issues. The goal of the toolkit is to empower individuals to make a difference within their communities by providing them with resources to safely host their own virtual clean-up anywhere, anytime!   

    How do I sign up for the virtual clean-up?

    Click this link to sign up via Experience BU and participate anytime between Saturday, April 17th to Sunday, April 25th 

    Why should I join or host a virtual clean-up?

    • Spending time outdoors and engaging in conservation activities can help foster a connection to local communities and ecosystems. 
    • There is a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced negative emotions including anxiety, depression, and irritability as well as headaches and indigestion (Ontario Parks, 2020) 
    • You can help better your own local community and make a difference for the environment. 
    • Become aware of the garbage that is most common in your own community and help spread awareness. 
    • Students can help fulfil volunteer hours for the WWF-Canada Living Planet Leader Certification

    What is in the virtual clean-up toolkit?

    There are currently three guides available: for students, for community members, and for organizations. Each guide provides unique resources for the respective group.  

    The Student Guide Includes:

    • Resources about how your participation in the virtual clean-up can contribute towards your Living Planet Leader Certification  
    • A list of tips to help you get started with your own virtual clean-up 
    • COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.  
    • A virtual clean-up checklist 

     If you have any questions about how to join or host a virtual clean-up, please reach out to sustainability@brocku.ca  

  • Inequalities in Niagara And How You Can Help Eliminate Them

    Blog Contributor: Margaux Turk

    The United Nations (UN’s) has developed 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals are important for everyone to have a better understanding of how climate change, inequalities and health issues affect everyone around the world, in a multitude of ways. Understanding all of the UN’s SDGs is important to be able to accomplish these goals, and bringing them to a local level can help make them more manageable and easier to tackle.

    There are many steps that people can take to help accomplish these goals but in this blog I will talk about economic inequality. I will be focusing on income inequality, how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected people’s income as well as how income affects housing challenges, and what we can do in the Niagara region to help.

    Before COVID-19 hit; the Niagara region was already one of the toughest job markets in Canada with an average of 73 applicants per job listing. As of May 2020 over 21,500 people in Niagara1 have either lost their job or been laid-off for the time being during lockdown . Businesses are shut down or have had to change how they operate because of the restrictions put in place by the government. These restrictions aim to try to get a handle on, and prevent COVID-19 from infecting more people than it already has. This unfortunately has greatly impacted the region’s economy as well as its residents.

    The impacts of COVID-19 have been felt worldwide, it is estimated by the international Labor Organization that “nearly half of the global workforce is at risk of losing their livelihoods” 3. It is also estimated that we are likely at the verge of another global recession just as bad, if not worse, than the one that occurred in 2009. The potential damage will only increase during these unprecedented times where marginalized and poor people have been hit the hardest and have become more vulnerable and susceptible to these issues. Those who were already experiencing financial instability have had their issues exacerbated by the state of flux caused by the COVID-19 Lockdowns.

    When businesses are able to open up in the future, the lasting effects of COVID-19 could potentially lead to even less job opportunities. This means that the numbers of people experiencing poverty will continue to grow instead of shrink, unless there is something we can do to help the people experiencing hardship. COVID-19 has had a far longer and drastic impact than anyone could have predicted at the beginning stages of this pandemic. It has lasted longer and affected everyone in different ways. Even those who were not affected financially from the pandemic likely have had their mental health impacted due to the stress and isolation caused by the ongoing lockdowns and restrictions.

    In Niagara there are a plethora of things we could and should be doing to try and prevent the marginalized from suffering. One of the struggles individuals in Niagara face is the lack of affordable housing units. We have a severe lack of rental properties and are witnessing the continued increase of rental costs that are occurring across the region. One solution is to have municipalities in Niagara build houses and apartment buildings with the sole purpose of having them being affordable housing for local people and their families. Ways in which we can do this is petitioning, calling our local government to let them know this issue is not going unnoticed and we expect them to do something about it. The more attention we give to this issue the more likelihood of those in charge will pay attention and make a change.

    With more affordable housing we will also be able to address and help those who are experiencing homelessness. There are over 500 homeless people in the Niagara region, almost 150 of them being children2. If we can provide adequate housing and better the shelters already in place for them it would be the stepping stone needed to start bettering their situation. The first step of this is ensuring that the current homeless shelters in place already are welcoming to all, treating people with kindness and respect, and have the resources and knowledge necessary to connect the homeless with appropriate social services and help anyone with mental health issues, disabilities or any other issues which may be making their progress harder.

    If you yourself are a resident of Niagara or St Catherines and have walked downtown on St. Paul, chances are you have walked past many people who are suffering from homelessness. You may have talked to them, you may not have, but if you have then you may know just how human these people are. Something many people seem to forget when driving or walking past them.

    While this blog has mainly focused on one aspect of the UN’s 17 SDGs (economic inequalities and housing issues), and while reducing inequalities and ensuring no one is left behind are integral to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (United Nations, 2021), it is important to note that all SDGs are interconnected and rely on each other. In other words you cannot complete one without also working on another.

    To really eradicate the inequalities people are facing here in Niagara (and all over) we have to consider many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. These include SDGS one

    (1) through ten (10) shown in the photo below. By focussing on all of these SDGs we can ensure that everyone has an equal start. And can ensure more can help the progress of sustainable development and all of the SDGs.

    If you are interested in helping be the change but are unsure of how to start, take a look at this link to help give you some ideas on where to start. For more information on the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals follow this link to gain more information on the topic. If you are wondering what your business can do to participate this is a good place to start your research on the topic, and if you’re looking for another blog type post on the topics be sure to come back to read more blogs about the topic and check out this one which is already posted!

    Please take time out of your day to view the UN’s website about the SDG’s and how YOU can change your daily life to help make life better for everyone and the planet we live on.

    Things You Can Do

    If you can, we should all carry something on our person in case you see someone who needs help, especially during the cold winter months.

    Items can include but are not limited to: winter boots, jackets, mitts and hats, a new toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, dry shampoo, feminine products, non-perishable food or easy snacks such as granola bars or fruit like oranges, bananas, apples etc.

    Donate to a local organization that brings these items right to those in need. If you don’t already, making these changes are necessary because “greater efforts are needed to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, and invest more in health, education, social protection and decent jobs especially for young people, migrants and refugees and other vulnerable communities”3.

    References

    1. Howard, G. (2020, May 08). Study shows 21,500 Niagarans have lost their jobs During COVID crisis. Retrieved January 17, 2021, from https://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/news/niagara-region/2020/05/08/study-shows-21-500-niagarans-have-lost-their-jobs-during-covid-crisis.html

    2. Niagara to get a count on homeless population. (2020, February 25). Retrieved February 17, 2021, from https://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/news/niagara-region/2020/02/25/niagara-to-get-a-count-on-homeless-population.html

    3. Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere – United Nations Sustainable Development. (2021, February 3). United Nations Sustainable Development; United Nations. https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/poverty/

  • Sustainability Starts with You

    Blog Contributor: Kassie Burns

    The United Nations created 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 to address the major social, economic, and environmental issues around the world. At a global scale, these goals seem intimidating but when brought to the local level are much easier to accomplish. In the Niagara Region, municipalities and cities face several challenges due to climate change. A survey conducted by Blythe et al. (2020) revealed that 87% of respondents believe humans have the capacity to address climate change and 85% supported municipal resources being used for climate change adaptation in the Niagara Region. However, only 53% of respondents addressed climate change as a priority in their households. Thankfully, every individual has the power to make a difference to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and it can start right from their homes.

    There are several actions people can take in their lives to create sustainable change, but some may be overlooked more than others.

    Gardening

    Gardens of any size can have a strong impact on the challenges climate change creates. Whether it is acommunity garden or a backyard garden, it has potential to contribute directly to several SDGs including: sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, climate action, and support life below water as well as life on land.

    Tips:

    Benefits to Nature from Native Plants
    • Helps reduce invasive species that quickly override plant populations
    • Increases biodiversity in your neighbourhood as many organisms rely on them for survival
    • Pollinator gardens can help declining populations recover, like bees and butterflies that need frequent pollinator stops during migration

    Tips:

    • People can certify their gardens as a Wildlife-friendly Habitat through the Canadian Wildlife Federation
    • Improve wildlife in your backyard or community even more by adding feeders, bird houses, and fountains in the area
    Native Plants and Flooding

    A challenge households in the Niagara Region are currently facing is basement flooding due to overwhelmed storm water and sewage systems. In the same study by Blythe et al. (2020), they report that 15% of respondents experienced household flooding and 55% experienced community flooding across the region. Here are some interesting facts about native plants and flooding:

    • Native plants retain water better than non-native species, which reduces soil erosion and can prevent floods
    • They can help reduce burden on the Region’s water systems since there would be less runoff water into the drains
    • Native plants do not need to be watered as often and save the homeowner resources as well as unexpected costs
    • Collecting rainwater through a barrel or bucket will reduce the risk of flooding and can be used for other purposes
    Plants Reduce Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Emissions

    CO2 is one major component in greenhouse gases that is causing the planet to heat at

    an accelerated rate and is a leading factor in global warming. The Niagara Region’s Corporate Climate Chang

    e Action Plan recognizes hotter temperatures have caused an increase in vector borne diseases and damages to agriculture crops.

    Did you know?

    • Plants can help fight climate change by decreasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
      • Plants breathe in CO2 and breathe out oxygen
      • Having a garden can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
      • Never has it been more crucial to lower CO2 levels
    • Devoting a space for plants decreases the area of grass in yards, which is often maintained by gasoline mowers
      • According to the National Wildlife Federation, gasoline powered tools like lawn mowers produce 10 to 12 times more pollution than the average car in one hour of use
      • It would significantly reduce emissions if every property owner were to limit their use or consider changing to non-gasoline products to maintain their yards
    • If the space permits, planting trees can be the best way to achieve fresher air
    • The National Wildlife Federation states a mature tree can absorb 0.23 tons of carbon dioxide per year
    • If every person in the Niagara Region (as of 2016) grew a mature tree, approximately 9000 tons of carbon dioxide would be absorbed every year
    • Programs are available through municipalities to request a tree to be planted on city grounds in front of your property
    • The City of St. Catharines offers New Tree Planting services and hosts events such as tree giveaways and rain barrel sales
    Growing Food Products

    In addition to growing plants, people can grow their own food products.

    Did you know?

    • Individuals can immensely reduce their carbon footprint by growing their own food
    • It saves the environment and individuals’ finances, while providing the freshest ingredients
    • Herbs and some vegetables can be easily grown indoors for those who do not have the space or time for a whole outdoor garden
    Growth for Change Challenge

    In the light of the pandemic and many individuals stuck at home, what better time to think about ways to improve your gardens this spring or increase the number of plants in your home? Thus, I am challenging people to create and maintain a space for growth to show a literal and symbolic support to fight climate change. Whether it is a large or small garden, community garden, or flowerpots, everyone of all experiences and ages is encouraged to participate in the Growth for Change Challenge.

    The Sustainable Developmental Goals are achievable, and actions need to start with you because sustainability is everyone’s responsibility.

    #GrowthForChangeChallenge

    Note: Kassie Burns contributed this blog through ENSU 3P91, Environmental Sustainability Internship, which is a part of the Minor in Environmental Sustainability. We thank Kassie for her willingness to have this course project deliverable posted publicly.

     

    References

    Blythe J, Mallette A, Smits A, Daly E, Plummer R, 2020. Climate vulnerability fact sheet Grimsby. Niagara Adapts Program Brief: 2020-01

    Canadian Wildlife Federation. (2021). Certify your garden as a “Wildlife-friendly Habitat”. https://cwf-fcf.org/en/explore/gardening-for-wildlife/action/get-certified/

    City of St. Catharines. (2021). Trees. St. Catharines. https://www.stcatharines.ca/en/livein/Trees.asp#

    Department of Economic and Social Sustainable Development. (2021). The 17 Goals. United Nations. https://sdgs.un.org/goals

    National Wildlife Federation. (2021). Gardening for Climate Change. National Wildlife Federation. https://www.nwf.org/Our-Work/Environmental-Threats/ClimateChange/Greenhouse-Gases/Gardening-for-Climate-Change

    Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority. (2014). A Guide to Celebrate Niagara Peninsula’s      Native Plants. http://ourniagarariver.ca/wp content/uploads/2016/03/14047-NPCA-Plant-GuideJan2015.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2_nOeIn5Gwn0AFQiN29OfQTILv2HjHMkcMUFLHMavuHJqd-VB7vTfQ

    Niagara Region. (2013). Corporate Climate Change Action Plan: Partners for Climate Protection: Milestones 2 and 3. http://www.niagaraknowledgeexchange.com/wp content/uploads/sites/2/2014/05/Corporate_Climate_Action_Plan_2013.pdf

  • Brock Earns Silver STARS Rating

    Blog Contributor: Mikellena Nettos 

    Brock recently held two Focus on Learning sessions to provide an Introduction to Sustainability at Brock for staff and faculty on January 28 and February 3. The main purpose of these sessions was to share our recent accomplishments related to Sustainability at Brock. If you have not already heard, Brock recently obtained Silver rating from our first-ever STARS assessment by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)! The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance administered by AASHE​.   

    Overall, STARS provides Brock with sustainability guidance by outlining where our sustainability initiatives are succeeding and where we need to enhance our efforts.  

    STARS helps assess areas of future improvement to ensure campuswide sustainability progression. Brock earned a Silver rating through obtaining 47.15% of available points​. We were most successful in the Academics category, achieving more than 70% of total points available! Currently, 15% of all courses at Brock include sustainability content​ which is an amazing accomplishment. Additionally, Brock earned all points for Community Partnerships, Student Life, and Student Orientation. 

    Future areas of improvement for Brock would be in the Engagement and Operations categories. Some future goals for Sustainability at Brock include looking towards conducting a Needs Assessment to determine what students know about sustainability and how to improve sustainability knowledge throughout the university, considering the development of a climate action plan, and updating our current Sustainability Policy. 

    To learn more about STARS at Brock, click here to read a Brock News article written by our very own Sustainability Co-ordinator, Elenore Breslow! If you are interested in reviewing the entire assessment, Brock’s full STARS report is also publicly available on the STARS website. 

    This is an amazing accomplishment for sustainability at Brock and we hope to achieve greater success within the STARS assessment in the futureAdditionally, we want to thank everyone in the Brock community who assisted in providing information for this assessment – we could not have done it without you! 

  • Sustainable Development Goals: Public Health

    Blog Contributor: Mikellena Nettos

    The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are ambitious global targets created by the United Nations to promote a positive global future. They were created based off the previous Millennium Development Goals created in 2010. It has been five years since the creation of the SDGs, and 2030 is fast approaching. Therefore, we must promote these goals and implement them into our daily lives, on all scales: individualinstitutional, and global.  

    COVID-19 has impacted our lives on a global scale, and we can see the consequences of neglecting our planet come to the surface. A healthy planet creates healthy people, therefore, because our planet is sick, we are too. Public health is a crucial aspect of the SDGs; however, most people associate health exclusively with SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-Being. The SDGs are very interrelated, thus, there are multiple SDGs that can promote public health on a global scale, each additionally impacted by COVID-19. These goals are:  

    • 2: Zero Hunger 
    • 3: Good Health and Well-Being 
    • 6: Clean Water and Sanitation  
    • 10: Reduced Inequalities  
    • 13: Climate Action 
    • 15: Life on Land 

    SDG 2: Zero Hunger relates to public health because food and nutrition are directly related to health. Improving nutrition goes beyond SDG 2 alone and can play a transformational role in driving sustainable development. Combating global malnutrition will significantly improve health and assist in ending poverty. To make progress on sustainable development it is essential to make progress on nutrition to increase health and well-being overall. Before COVID-19, food insecurity was already on the rise. The pandemic is an additional threat to food systems as countries are reducing global shipments of goods which impacts the financial security of small farming communities. 

    SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being is the main SDG associated with Public Health as it aims to reduce the global maternal mortality ratioend the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other communicable diseases, and in general reduce illness and mortality globally. The global health sectors are significantly impacted by the mass amounts of hospitalizations due to COVID-19. As the cases increase, health care workers are unable to keep up with the demand for care which causes the neglect of other health conditions to prioritize COVID. This is why we must stand together and stay home to reduce the spread of infection. Protecting the vulnerable protects us all   

    SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation is directly related to public health because often times various diseases can spread through unsanitary water. Additionally, one of the main actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is handwashing. However, without access to water, communities are left with increased risk to COVID-19 and other illnesses, making them increasingly vulnerable. In Canada specifically, there are many indigenous communities without access to water. This is worsened in the global south where some communities have to walk for miles to obtain water that is often unsanitary. For reference, 2.2 billion people lack safely managed drinking water and 4.2 billion people (more than half of the of the global population) lack safely managed sanitation 

    SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities is related to public health because those most vulnerable are the most affected by COVID-19. According to the UN statistics, illnesses and deaths from communicable disease will spike because of service cancellations (due to the global pandemic) will lead to a 100% increase in malaria deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa. Additionally, the global recession could decrease development aid to developing countriesFrom 2017 to 2018, development aid decreased by 64%, meaning it could decrease even more, and because two in five health-care facilities world-wide have no soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub, these communities will be hit the hardest by the pandemic.  

    SDG 13: Climate Action is directly related to public health. As temperatures increase, there will be more “natural” disasters globally, which will impact more communities, thus, impacting their access to health care. For example, the increasing temperature will cause drought along the equator, eventually forcing whole communities to migrate because of the lack of food and water. Additionally, only 85 countries have national disaster risk reduction strategies, meaning these disasters will increase inequalities globally, thus impacting health care. Vector-borne diseases such as malaria & zika virus, will travel at a broader range once global temperatures increase. 

    SDG 15: Life on Land is impacted by COVID-19 because as the world’s attention shifted towards the pandemic, there is now less attention being paid to the increasing loss of biodiversity. Additionally, wildlife trafficking contributes to the spread of infectious diseases and pangolins are specifically suspected to be the intermediary animal that transferred the coronavirus. This can be seen with other diseases such as the Ebola Virus being contracted from bats. Additionally, as forest areas continue to decline for agricultural expansion, it increases the rate of warming globally.  

    The lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to impact us as we move forward in time. We should incorporate all SDG’s into our lives to fight for a brighter future for everyone. The main lesson from this pandemic is that we are a collective, and we must therefore fight for our planet – all of it.  

     

    References 

    United Nations. (2015). THE 17 GOALS | Sustainable DevelopmentHttps://Sdgs.Un.Org/Goals https://sdgs.un.org/goals 

  • How to Lead a Low Impact Life in 2021

    Blog Contributor: Shannon Ruzgys

    There’s no better time than the start of a new year to commit to lifestyle changes that can better you and the planet! Here are 10 ways you can lead a lower impact lifestyle in 2021:  

    Minimize food waste in the kitchen: 

    • Nearly 1.3 billion tons of food are thrown out every year, which is enough food to feed all 815 million hungry people in the world 
    • In North America, 61% of food that is wasted is done so by consumers (not producers) 
    • How we can help:  
      • Avoid buying food in bulk: research has shown that buying bulk leads to more food waste 
      • Store foods properly: improper storing of fresh produce can lead to premature ripening and waste 
      • Shop ugly: food doesn’t have to look perfect to taste perfect, misshapen foods and those with minor blemishes are often discarded while being perfectly edible 
      • Organize your fridge: a properly organized fridge will help food from getting lost and discarded, never to be eaten 

    Ditch disposables: 

    • All of the following items have reusable options that can be easily found online or in store – try swapping out what you can: 
      • Paper towels 
      • Makeup wipes 
      • Water bottles 
      • Utensils  
      • Shopping bags 
      • Grocery produce bags

    Become engaged with the food you’re eating: 

    • Start thinking about where the food you’re eating comes from. Here are some questions you can ask to guide your grocery shopping: 
      • Where was this food produced? 
      • How was this food produced? 
      • Is there an environmentally friendly option that is accessible to me? 
      • Is this a necessity?  
      • Can I find an option with less packaging?  

    Make your protein green: 

    • It is well established that mass produced factory farmed meat is damaging to the environment 
    • Choosing environmentally friendly proteins is one of the best ways to reduce the environmental impact of your diet, here are some options: 
      • Choose grass fed/pasture raised meat  
      • Grass fed meat is generally produced in a much more sustainable and even environmentally beneficial way 
      • Choose less meat 
      • Meatless meals can be easy, tasty, and a great way to reduce your impact 
      • Reducing consumption is a great way to reduce your environmental impact 
      • Choose plant based options 
      • Most restaurants and take out places offer delicious plant based options 
      • A variety of plant based proteins can be found a nearly all grocery stores 

    Shop second hand 

    • The greenest way to consume is by consuming products that are already produced 
    • Things like clothing and home décor can easily be purchased second hand (and are often much cheaper than buying them new) 
    • There are plenty of high quality items just waiting to be given a second life. Just because it’s not new doesn’t mean it’s not good!

    Upcycle before you recycle 

    • Plenty of items just need quick DIY project before they can be put to good use 
    • Sauce jars and old candles that come in glass jars can easily be upcycled for reuse 

    Use your voice in your community 

    • In the age of at home and takeout, avoiding waste can be difficult  
    • If you love a restaurant but hate their plastic packaging, write to them and let them know that sustainability is important to you 

    Use your voice on social media 

    • There are plenty of Instagram accounts that produce great educational content about climate change and the environment  
    • Following and sharing these pages is a great way to engage yourself and your followers in environmental education 
    • Some great Instagram pages that focus on environmental issues: 
      • @wwfcanada 
      • @yearsofliving 
      • @greenpeace 
      • @futureearth 
      • @earthrise.studio
      • @nrdc_org 
      • @ancientforestalliance  

    Avoid food, cosmetics, and cleaning products that have palm oil in them 

    • Palm oil is grown in tropical rainforests and the clearing of these forests for oil has largely been unregulated and uncontrolled. The conversion of tropical rainforest to palm oil plantations has led to widespread destruction and loss of irreplaceable ecosystems. Many endangered species are directly impacted by palm oil production, including orangutans, tigers, elephants, and rhinos.  
    • WWF has a great page that explains how palm oil is used in everyday products:Here’s a list of products you may not know use palm oil: 
      • Oreos
      • Doritos 
      • Nail polish
      • Skittles 
      • Lipstick 
      • Dairy milk chocolate 
      • Smarties 
      • Margarine  
      • And so much more….
    • However, avoiding palm oil can be difficult so if you can’t avoid it look for products that use RSPO sustainably sources palm oil  

    Shop local 

    • Supporting local not only reduces transportation emissions but also supports your local community and those who live within it 
    • In the grocery store, many products have a local alternative for a similar price (i.e. Chinese garlic vs. Canadian garlic) 
    • Due to COVID-19 small businesses are everywhere and supporting them has never been easier! 

    As you can see, lowering your impact on the environment can occur in a variety of ways and it’s important to make changes that work with your current reality. Be kind to yourself and follow us on social media @BUsustainable for more tips! 

  • Why we Should Support Local and Shop in Season (when we can!)

    Blog Contributor: Shannon Ruzgys

    Will all of the news and constant doom and gloom around the environment, it is very easy to feel like there is nothing we can do to help. However, we get to choose three times a day what food systems we want to support and there are options for a diet that has a lower environmental impact. Here’s some reasons why we should all try to support our local farmers when we can and shop in season!  

     When we are looking at carbon emissions, transport typically only accounts for about 10% of emissions for a food product, which people tend to use an argument as to why supporting local doesn’t actually matterHowever, when you buy local, your food still has about 10% less emissions than imported food (which is still a significant amount). In Niagara we are extremely blessed with some of the best agricultural conditions in Canada, and there is a whole list of reasons as to why supporting our local farmers is beneficial:  

    • You support the local economy and farmers within your own community  
    • Local agriculture is a significant tourist attraction in Niagara 
    • Farmers markets bring in about $3.09 billion in revenue each year in Canada (Hagar, 2012) 
    • Farmers markets and their connection to food producers help build a sense of community 
    • When people feel negative emotions towards their food, they waste more. Therefore, building local connections and establishing positive relationships between farmers and consumers can help limit waste (Russell et al., 2017) 

    We really cannot stress how truly unique and valuable agriculture in Niagara is and as the climate changes, farmers will be the first to feel the impacts. Having a connection to these local food systems and the people that supply the food is vital. People who feel a sense of place and connection to their region are more likely to be motivated to act sustainably and preserve the natural environment (Rogers & Bragg, 2012). Fostering this connection through support and engagement with local farmers can be essential in fighting climate change in Niagara. 

    Eating food that is in season goes hand in hand with eating locally. When you eat food that is not in season in your region, you rely on imported foods. In Niagara that means that in the summer we are surrounded by an abundance of fresh and local produce followed by nothing in the winter. So, what can you do to help limit the amount of out of season produce you are buying? Well for one, you can stock up in the summer and freeze leftover produce for the winter. Frozen fruit and vegetables are great for defrosting and eating as well as making smoothies. 

    Niagara is known as the fruit belt of Canada; we are extremely lucky to be surrounded by plentiful harvests and growing conditions unlike anywhere else in the country. Farmers rely on the climate and their communities to make an income. Supporting farmers directly is one way that we can all help them build resilience towards climate change and prop up our local communities.  

  • Implementing Sustainability into the Zone Fitness Centre

    Photos above demonstrate the before and after progress of the Zone Fitness Centre’s flooring.

    Blog Contributor: Mikellena Nettos

    Brock Badgers are highly anticipating the completion of the Zone Fitness Centre and the progress photos seem to be generating increased excitement throughout the Brock community for use of this state-of-the-art facility! While we are all excited about the completion of the fitness centre, many people may not be aware of all the hard work that went into construction and the teamwork involved in the restoration various facets of the original Zone Fitness Centre, including the reuse of the Nora floor.  

    Brock bought the original flooring seven years ago and choosing to keep this floorinstead of replacing it with new flooring during this new construction project has saved the university tens of thousands of dollars, displaying the benefits of sustainable choices and reusing instead of replacing. Using specific chemical cleaners, water, and a sweeping machine (pictured), the Nora floor was beautifully restored. However, it took a lot of elbow grease from multiple members of the custodial staff team, and many hours across many shifts to properly restore the floor to its original glory.  

    Nora Floors are made of high quality natural and industrial rubbers making the floors very long lasting. In 2019, Nora announced that their products are CO₂ neutral across the entire product lifecycle! The company is very committed to sustainability overall. Nora also happily assisted in guiding the restoration process by suggestion which materials to use. 

    We were interested in highlighting this project for the Brock community because of the importance of reusing products, instead of replacing them. Reusing the floor not only saved money, but it reduced the amount of waste produced by the UniversityOften times construction can generate mass amounts of waste from the demolition prior to the building, but by restoring the original floor, this significantly reduced our environmental impact.  

    Thank you to Bryan Cober’s team (Manager, Structural Services) and the members of the custodial team in Facilities Management who made this sustainable choice and who contributed to making the Zone Fitness Centre an amazing place for all members of the Brock Community to enjoy. We think sustainable choices are the way of the future! 

  • Tips for Sustainable Holiday Season

    Blog Contributor: Mikellena Nettos

    It’s that time of year again – time to shop until you drop for the people that you love! Unfortunately, the holidays generate a lot of waste from unused gifts, to wrapping paper that you cannot recycle, to having lights on 24/7. So, how can you celebrate the holiday season sustainably? Well, here are some tips on how to be more sustainable during this holiday season:  

    Gifts 
    • Choose a gift that will last for years to come instead of single use items or clothes that can go in and out of fashion quickly.  
    • Shop local and support small businesses –  most small businesses have smaller carbon footprints and therefore are more sustainable.  
    • Handmake/regift instead of buying new items – thoughtful gifts often time have the most impact. 
    • Use sustainable wrapping paper like brown papermaterial, or even newspaper! It’s a great way to save money and the planet at the same time. You can add red yarn to tie it up for a more holiday feel.
    Décor 
    • Handcraft the decorations you can – knitting stockings or making your own wreath can be a fun way to spend time together while caring for the planet and saving money.  
    • Reuse tree decorations year after year instead of buying new ones. 
    • Use a real holiday tree (and compost it after use) to avoid plastic trees that take years to break down or decorate a house plant! 
    Holiday Cards 
    • E-cards are a sustainable way to spread holiday. 
    • Handcrafted cards are a great alternative to buying cards that are not recyclable. It also adds a touch of personality to show your loved ones how much they really mean to you.  
    Food  
    • Try using sustainably sourced food when deciding what to cook for holiday dinners. 
    • Cut down on the meat options, to reduce your carbon footprint, instead of having a turkey, ham, and meatloaf. 
    • Cut food waste – avoid overcooking if you can. Additionally, you can use leftovers to create new meals instead of tossing them in the compost.  
    Lights 
    • Switch to LED lights this holiday to cut down on energy usage for the lights. 
    • Additionally, use a holiday light timer to avoid having to remember to turn the lights off and on constantly. 

    Good luck on your exams and have a safe holiday, Badgers! If you are going home for the holidays, don’t forget to self-isolate for 2 weeks prior to avoid the spreading of COVID. While this holiday season may be different than the ones prior, try and enjoy this time with your loved ones. See you all (virtually) January 11th for the start of winter term! Happy Holidays!  

    References 

    Cornish, N. (2019, December 8). 17 tips for a more sustainable Christmas this year. House Beautiful. https://www.housebeautiful.com/uk/lifestyle/shopping/g25616166/sustainable-christmas/?slide=17 

    Cowan, S. (n.d.). How to Have a ‘Green’ ChristmasEartheasy Guides & Articles. Retrieved December 14, 2020, from https://learn.eartheasy.com/guides/how-to-have-a-green-christmas/ 

  • Bob Davis and Gym 2 LED Lighting & Control System Upgrade  

    Blog Contributor: Elenore Breslow

    Brock University continues tdemonstrate its commitment to increase energy efficiency and sustainability on campus through energy savings projects. A recent project completed in April 2020 was the LED lighting and control system upgrade in Bob Davis and Gym 2. The Bob Davis Gymnasium is located on the lower level of the Walker Complex and is home to Badger basketball and volleyball teams and is where convocation and exams are held. Gym 2 is a multi-purpose gymnasium that is also located in the Walker Complex and is the main facility for the Universities PEKN Children’s Movement Program and where a number of intramurals are held. 

    This energy efficiency project aligns with Brock’s Energy Conservation & Demand Management Plan goal to continue the replacement of T12, T8 and CFL lights and fixtures with LED tubes and fixtures. Both facilities were illuminated with 4 lamp and 2 lamp T8 fluorescent lighting fixtures with a total fixture count of 356 and a total lamp count of 1,424. The aging T8 fixtures were replaced with new LED high bay luminaires. A total of 140 new LED fixtures were installed in the two gyms. In addition to the lighting upgrades the two gyms also received a new Lutron control system that installed dimming capabilities as well as occupancy sensors to curtail energy usage when the gyms are not in use. The lighting portion of the project resulted in electrical savings of 157,228 kWh and the controls portion contributes an additional savings of 62,772 kWh for a total electrical savings of 220,000 kWh per year. This represents savings of $42,900 annually. These savings are enough to power 7.8 homes for 1 year and is equivalent to 40.88 t CO2e reduction or taking about 16 cars off the road! 

     

    Project Details: 

    Project Cost: $96,500.00 

    Incentives/Grants: $7,000 for fixtures, $6,272 for controls (total $13,272) 

    Simple Payback: 1.7 years 

    Energy Savings: 220,000 kWh/year ($42,900) 

    CO2 Reduction: 40.88 eton 

    Project Completion: April 2020.