Blog Posts

  • Tips for a Sustainable Summer

    Blog Contributor: Mikellena Nettos

    Summer is finally just around the corner – longer days, shorter nights, and colder drinks! As you enjoy your time off, we wanted to share some helpful tips on how to have a more sustainable summer: 

    1. Take advantage of natural light – turn the lights off during the day and open the curtains! 
    2. Whenever possible, turn off the AC and open the windows to get some fresh air. 
    3. Challenge yourself to grow your own food! There are many online guides to assist in this rewarding practice. 
    4. Go to your local farmers market for produce instead of larger chain grocery stores (**Make sure to check your local COVID-19 guidelines**) 
    5. If you need to go somewhere, opt for walking or riding your bike instead of driving and take advantage of the nice weather – don’t forget your mask! 
    6. Instead of using a dryer – line dry your clothes in the sun. 
    7. When using sunscreen, opt for non-toxic sunscreen – better for your skin and the planet! 
    8. Make sure to use a reusable bottle when staying hydrated. 
    9. Want to grill your food? Opt for a propane gas grill, which burns cleaner than charcoal.  
    10. Plant a tree on your property – future summers will be a lot cooler with the nice shade it will provide!  

    Make sure to check and follow your local COVID-19 guidelines while enjoying the weather this summer. If you adopt some of these sustainable practices, make sure to tell your friends and family as it could influence them to have a more sustainable summer as well.  

    Have a safe, fun, and sustainable summer, Badgers!  

    References  
    1. (2011, July). 21 Simple Eco-Friendly Summer Tips. Biofriendly Planet | For a Cooler Environment.https://biofriendlyplanet.com/green-ideas/eco-friendly/21-simple-eco-friendly-summer-tips/
    2. GME Marketing. (2018, May). Top 10 Tips for a Sustainable Summer. Green Mountain Energy Company. https://www.greenmountainenergy.com/2013/06/top-10-tips-for-a-sustainable-summer/ 
  • Brock Students Clean Up Their Communities During Earth Week

    Blog Contributor: Elenore Breslow

    Cleaning up trash can be a lot more fun than it sounds as it provides an opportunity to spend time outdoors and engage in conservation activities to help your local community and its natural environment. Brock University and Niagara College hosted a Virtual Spring Clean-Up event from Saturday, April 17 to Sunday, April 25, 2021. Students and employees from both institutions came together (virtually) to clean up their communities and help make a positive impact.  

    Brock students and employees took part in the event from across the world from New Delhi, India to our backyard in the Niagara Region. We wanted to share some of the highlights of the event with you, so we asked participants to share their experiences.  

    Highlights from the Event  

    “The Virtual Niagara Spring Clean-Up gave me the opportunity to incorporate a more sustainable form of living into my daily schedule. I had a great time cleaning my local community park with my brother, knowing in our hearts we were making a positive environmental impact. Highly recommend it to brighten up your day.” said Shivangi Singh, a student in the Masters of Business Administration program.  

    Shivangi Singh cleaning up a local community park in New Delhi, India.

    Madeline Mantler, a Medical Sciences student, not only participated in the event but also included and taught their younger siblings, “I really enjoyed leading my household in a clean-up of Firemen’s Park in Niagara Falls for Earth Week at Brock. I found it especially rewarding getting to teach my younger siblings about sustainability during the event. I recommend others do a clean-up as well!”

    Madeline Mantler cleaning up Firemen’s Park in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

    Elaine Aldridge-Low, who works for Brock’s Centre for Canadian Studies told us, “I chose the Virgil Nature Path for my clean up.” Elaine also expressed how they came across quite a lot of garbage during their clean-up, which encouraged them to reach out to their local government, “… I reached out to a Town Councillor with the photos, and he brought it to the Town’s Environmental Committee for review. I am hopeful the area is returned to its natural state and the businesses are required to keep the area free of their debris.” 

    This experience goes to show that clean-up events not only provide an opportunity to care for your community, but also to advocate for environmental improvements from local authorities.  

    Photo provided by Elaine Aldridge-Low that shows some of the trash found at the Virgil Nature Path located in the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

    Gargi Daga, a student in the Masters of Business Administration program, noted they had a great time at the clean-up event, “I had an amazing experience while participating in Virtual Niagara Clean Up event. I have learnt that our generation has the ability and the responsibility to make our ever-more connected world a more hopeful, stable and clean place.”  

    Gargi Daga cleaning up their local community in Ottawa, Ontario.

    Thank you to all our participants and we look forward to hosting another clean-up event in the fall. If you are looking to get involved sooner, we launched a toolkit with Niagara College that includes information and simple steps on how to host or join a community clean-up anytime, anywhere. Resources also direct participants to their local health guidelines to ensure all COVID-19 restrictions are followed throughout the process. 

    Follow Sustainability at Brock on social media to find out about other ways you can get involved in sustainability initiatives.  

  • The Sustainable Development Goals and Gender Inequality

    Blog Contributor: Shannon Ruzgys

     

    Goal number 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is focused on gender equality and empowering women and girls. However, we can see the theme of gender equality riddled throughout many of the SDGs, highlighting how important equality is for achieving the goals.

    There have been improvements in recent years, like the fact that fewer girls are forced into early marriage and more women are in leadership roles. However, despite those improvements, equality still remains unreached throughout the globe. In 2020, women still only represented 25% of national parliaments and 39% of local government roles, despite the fact that women are disproportionately on the front lines of one of the largest global crises in recent times – COVID-19. In fact, recent surveys have found that women account for 70% of all health and social workers globally, demonstrating the importance of women in fighting crises (United Nations, 2020).

    Aside from front line workers, COVID-19 has negatively impacted a large number of women, mainly by increasing vulnerability and household burdens. Lockdowns have increased the risk of violence against women and girls, with some countries reporting up to a 30% increase in cases of domestic violence.

     

    Source: UN Women

    Goal 5 focuses on aspects such as ensuring women’s political leadership, and reproductive health rights, as well as eliminating violence, trafficking, and discrimination. However, we see gender equality in a number of the goals such as No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Health and Wellbeing, Clean Water, Education, and Economic Growth.

    When looking at economic growth, factors such as pay gaps can have large impacts on gender equality and the economy. Research from 2017 revealed a 19% gender pay gap globally, which has far reaching economic impacts. Research has shown that closing this pay gap can have a multitude of benefits. On one hand, closing the gap could cut the poverty rate of working women in half. Others have estimated that equal pay would boost women’s earnings in developing countries by $2 trillion. Beyond raising wages, increasing female economic participation can have massive benefits, with estimates stating that if an equal number of men and women were in the job force, GDP could increase by 5% in the US, 9% in Japan, and 27% in India (Schulze, 2018). With COVID-19 pushing the world into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, integrating more women into the workforce and reducing pay gaps can be a vital tool in post-COVID recovery.

    Further, we can again see how interconnected the SDGs are when we look at the role education has to play in achieving these economic goals for women. In 2018, two thirds of the 773 million illiterate adults were women, with the majority of them residing in low-income countries. Young women in developing countries still face massive barriers towards education, including menstruation, social pressures to engage in family care over education, violence, child marriage and early pregnancy (Gender Inequality Is Keeping Girls Out of School, 2017). All of these barriers, and more, continue to keep girls from pursuing education.

    When looking at Goal 1 for no poverty it is obvious how many of these factors affecting women contribute to global poverty. For example, we know educating women is one of the most effective things we can do to reduce global poverty. The economic theory of fertility suggests that more educated women are better able to support themselves and have more bargaining power, including choices such as family sizes. Studies have also shown that increasing female education significantly reduces the number of children born per woman (Ali & Gurmu, 2018).

    Overall, while Gender Equality is its own goal, we can see just how essential achieving gender equality is for so many of the SDGs through research showing how beneficial reducing things such as the pay gap and increasing female education can be for the entire globe on multiple scales and with several impacts.

  • Earth Day 2021

    Blog Contributor: Mikellena Nettos

    Today, Thursday, April 22nd2021, is Earth Day. The world’s first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 and it is now regarded as a global initiative to promote the protection and care of our planet. If you’re looking for a way to celebrate Earth Day from your own home, join us virtually at one of our events.  

    Brock will be hosting a virtual event tonight at 7pm, as part of the ESRC’s Environmental Stewardship Speaker Series where Dr. Robyn Bourgeois will be presenting “Land, Body, and Sovereignty: An Indigenous Perspective”. This is a great opportunity to learn more about how environmental destruction directly affects Indigenous women and girls and Indigenous ways of knowing.  

    In addition, Sustainability at Brock is hosting a virtual clean up, in partnership with Niagara College until April 25th. The institutions are also providing the community with a virtual clean-up toolkit that can be found here. Today, you can use this opportunity to participate in the virtual clean up and help take care of our planet. This clean up initiative can also be included as volunteer hours toward the WWF Living Planet Leader Certification!  

    Students can support Earth Day by learning more about sustainable ways of living and use this day to kick start a more sustainable lifestyle for the rest of the year. There are also additional virtual events to take part in at earthday.org 

    Make sure to check our sustainability social media pages on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook to find more resources on how to lead a more sustainable life through our highlights and posts. Have a safe and sustainable Earth Day, Badgers! 

  • 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!