Blog Posts

  • 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?’.   

    1. 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.  

    1. 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.  

    1. To Get Creative 

    As you’ve probably realized by now, upcycling projects require some creativity and innovation. Interestingly, creativity is a skill that is valued in school and in the workplace because it allows students and employees alike to think of newer and better ways to reach certain goals. This LinkedIn Learning article describes creativity as the “most important skill in the world” because possessing this skill allows us to be better problem solvers in an everchanging world. More and more, companies and higher education institutes are looking for people who can adapt, think on their feet and keep thinking of new solutions as artificial intelligence takes over process-driven jobs. Therefore, upcycling is a great outlet to spark your creativity and continue to work on it as you ask yourself “what can I create from this object that I would otherwise throw out?”. It’s a great exercise that allows you to pain, sew, glue, cut, and colour as much as you want and it provides you with a sense of pride since you are the artist behind your new item! 

    Hopefully this introduction to upcycling gave you an idea of what upcycling is, what some examples are, and what are three main reasons to upcycle. There are many benefits of upcycling, although helping the planet through reducing emissions and slowing down the waste production in our landfills is a leading reason behind why so many people love to upcycle. Make sure to check out the resources linked above to learn more about upcycling, examples of upcycling, and the importance of creativity. Happy crafting 

     

    Categories: Recycling, Student Contributor, Sustainability, Uncategorised

  • Pledging Towards Environmental Sustainability  

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    To kick off the new year, we asked students to make pledges to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable in 2020. Students who participated finished the following sentence “I pledge to…” and were encouraged to choose to commit to a big or small change to implement in their lives for the new year. Some examples (as seen below) include shopping local, talking to friends about sustainability, and taking the bus whenever possible. These pledges were (and continue to be) posted to the @BUSustainable social media accounts in hopes to reach more people. By doing so, it provides a network of followers (including students, faculty, staff, and community members) with ideas to implement sustainability into their lives in a way that works for them. This initiative many people from the Brock University community who wanted to learn more about sustainability or wanted to further their commitment to sustainability in their personal lives. It was a great opportunity to further the dialogue about the environment and sustainability at the individual level, which can influence friends, family, and even strangers. Participants were then automatically entered into a draw to win a $100 campus store gift card.  

     Our two winners are Michela, a kinesiology student, and Isamaris, a child health student. These two friends split the winnings as they pledged together to share tips with friends on how to be more sustainable. Congratulations! Keep an eye out for more pledges from the Brock community coming soon to the @BUSustainability social media pages, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  

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

  • 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

  • Building a Way to Environmental Sustainability: LEED 

    Blog Contributor: Nolan Kelly 

    We spend the majority of our lives in buildings, yet we often give very little thought when it comes to the design, construction, or impact that these buildings have on our lives and the environment. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or as it’s commonly known “LEED” is the most widely used green building rating system in the world, available for virtually all building, community, and home-project types. LEED has proven to be a pathway towards addressing climate change and creating buildings that are more resource-efficient, healthy, and resilient. LEED projects emphasize the importance of sustainability in all buildings, whether it is in the design, construction or operation. LEED projects can also take form in many different shapes, sizes, and purposes ranging from a small local building, to university campuses to NHL sized arenas (CGBC, 2019). Energy and water savings, recycling, greenhouse gas reductions, and green roofs are just some of the ways in which following LEED standards can improve new and existing buildings. This is important because there is no denying the impact that buildings have on the environment. It is estimated that buildings generate nearly 30% off all greenhouse gas emissions, up to 35% of all landfill waste comes from construction and demolition of buildings, and up to 70% of all municipal water is consumed in and around buildings (LEED, 2020).  

    The Plaza and International Centre building at Brock University are both Silver LEED certified. The Plaza Building, built in 2006, incorporated a unique system of heating and cooling by utilizing the precast hollow core concrete floor slabs for stored thermal mass and fresh ventilation air as part of the ThermoDeck System. This system has resulted in a higher degree of indoor air quality through this ventilation system as well a 33% energy cost savings. The Plaza Building also uses Xeriscaping and rainwater harvesting which has led to 60% water savings. Xeriscaping is used for all the landscaping around Plaza Building which minimizes irrigation, pest control, and fertilization. The incorporation of drought resistant native species also eliminated the need for outdoor watering! The rainwater harvesting on the roof of Plaza is used to for non-potable uses such as toilet flushing and outdoor water watering. During the building of Plaza over 75% of all the construction waste was diverted from landfills due to a rigorous construction waste management plan that kept sustainability at the forefront of the entire process (Sustainability Initiatives, 2020).  

    The International Centre building built in 2010 was designed to achieve 41% in energy cost reduction compared to the Model National Energy Code for Buildings. One of the advanced water conservation features of this building is the rainwater harvesting from roof. Between the 50, 000 litre underground cistern that collects the water from the roof and the installation of water efficient plumbing fixtures, the building has an 89% wastewater reduction and 41% water use reduction. The material used in the building and furnishing of the building were also carefully selected to ensure the highest level of indoor quality was achieved (Sustainability Initiatives, 2020). If you want to learn more about LEED certification or the LEED certified buildings at Brock, visit the links below! 

    Canadian Green Building Council – LEED 

    LEED Certified Buildings at Brock University  

    References 

    Image retrieved from: https://brocku.ca/facilities-management/planning-construction/major-projects/plaza-building/

    Canadian Green Building Council – Rogers Place. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.cagbc.org/Archives/EN/CaGBC_Green_Building_Case_Studies/rogers_place.aspx 

    LEED: the international mark of excellence. (2020). Retrieved from https://www.cagbc.org/CAGBC/LEED/Why_LEED/CAGBC/Programs/LEED/_LEED.aspx?hkey=01b3d086-d0a4-42cf-9e61-7830d801c019 

    Sustainability Initiatives: Buildings. (2020). Retrieved from https://brocku.ca/sustainability/initiatives/buildings/ 

  • Brock’s Commitment to Environmental Sustainability Continues with Completion of DEEP 

    Blog Contributor: Nolan Kelly 

    On Friday February 21st Brock University celebrated the completion of Brock’s District Energy Efficiency Project (DEEP). This project was a multiyear process that took extensive planning, collaboration, an effort in order to reach completionThe aim of the project was to reduce Brock’s carbon footprint and increassustainability on campus by replacing the 25-year-old co-generation engines with state-of-the-art energy efficient units. These units provide a reliable source electricity, cooling and heating on campus. This project was made possible through federal and provincially funded upgrades to the co-generation plant that consisted of replacing eight engines with four new high-efficiency models as well as the installation of a new lithium-bromide absorption chiller and new magnetic-bearing electric chiller.  

    The first phase of the DEEP project saw Brock receive nearly $5.2 million in funding from the Government of Canada’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment as well as $5.4 million from Brock University. In Phase 1, Brock replaced half othe existing natural gas-powered co-generators with state-of-the-art, high efficiency electronically controlled units. DEEP Phase 2 started in March of 2018 and was entirely funded by the Ontario government’s $7.9-million investment as part of the Greenhouse Gas Campus Retrofits Program (GGCRP) Innovation Grant Fund, which was designed to help post-secondary institutions reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency. In this second phase the remaining co-gen engines were replaced, and a new high-efficiency electric chiller unit was installed. Through the completion of the DEEP project Brock University has significantly improved its energy efficiency, lowered its carbon emissions, and assists Brock in continuing in its commitment to meeting environmental sustainability targets. 

    The new engines are roughly 20 per cent more fuel efficient than their older counterparts and will consume roughly two million cubic metres less fuel to power the campus. The reduction is the equivalent of removing 720 small passenger cars from the road! The now completed project will result in Brock’s annual NOx (nitrogen oxide) gas emissions dropping from 55 tons to just eight tons, and non-methane hydrocarbons reducing from 15 tons to four. These new co-generation engines also consume 26 per cent less fuel per kWh produced, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in utility cost savings each year. 

    This a huge step forward for Brock in its efforts to become more environmentally sustainable and be a leader amongst universities in reducing carbon emissions. To read more about the completion of the project or to learn more about the savings associated check out the Brock News article and the Energy Conservation and Demand Management Plan below!  

    Completion of DEEP Project articles 

    Brock LINC opening signals new era of community engagement for Brock University  

    $7.9 million in provincial funding means green light for Brock’s green energy project 

    Brock University Energy Conservation and Demand Management Plan 

    Energy Conservation and Demand Management Plan 

    Reference made to article originally published in the Brock News which was written by Dan Dakin. 

    Photos: DEEP Project Launch – February 2020

  • 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

  • Coffee Cup Waste and Recycling Locations

    Blog Contributor: Nolan Kelly

    As the cold weather hits and exam season is in full swing, consumption of hot beverages on campus increases. With everything else going on during this time of the year it can be easy to forget about where all these cups are ending up. Last month, the Brock News posted an article that highlighted Brock’s most recent waste audit results from this year. The results revealed that coffee cups are Brock’s top recycling offender as only 2.1% are properly recycled on campus annually. This results in 97.9% of the cups ending up in landfills, which equates to 41.8 metric tons of waste! Brock University is committed to tackling this issue and coming up with solutions for how to reduce this number and improve awareness on campus.  

    While Brock has plans to address this issue, it is up to students to take part and make a difference when it comes to reducing their waste footprint and consuming sustainably. There are many simple steps that students can take such as bringing a reusable mug to campus. Every coffee serving location on campus offers a discount for those who do bring their own mug. General Brock customers who bring a reusable cup of any size pay just $1.25! This discount makes it the cheapest coffee on campus and also encourages sustainabilityFor those living in residence, dining halls have a punch card each time a student uses their reusable mug. In addition to the discount for every eight drinks they purchase with a reusable container, the ninth is free, which is extended to fountain pop, infused water and hot beverages like coffee and tea. If the cost savings and sustainability reasons are not enough to convince you to buy a reusable mug, there are also other benefits such as keeping your drink warmer, longer, and better protecting yourself from spills. 

    For those that do not have a reusable mug, there is still something you can do to reduce waste on campus! The coffee cups on campus are not recyclable, but they are compostable. This is why it is important to place cups in the designated recycling stations wherever coffee is sold on campus. There are 7 coffee cup recycling locations on campus, they are located in: Pond Inlet (2 bins), upper hall in South Block, Lower Welch Hall in South Block, Welch Hall in front of General Brock, near all three Tim Hortons locations, near the Library close to Starbucks, and at the Student Center near the Starbucks. By choosing to properly dispose of these cups it can make a significant difference in the amount of waste created by coffee cups each year!

    Categories: Recycling, Student Contributor, Study Sustainability at Brock