Enviro-champions — that’s us!

Posted on Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Bags of recycled waste piled up next to a row of recycling containers.
Did you know? The University of Ottawa ranks as the 25th most sustainable university in the world according to the UI Green Metric World University Ranking
By Gabrielle Poulin

Over the past few years, the University’s Office of Campus Sustainability (OCS) has implemented major initiatives to make uOttawa one of the most environmentally sustainable campuses in the country. To kick off RecycleMania 2016, a friendly competition among North American postsecondary institutions, the OCS is launching several initiatives to motivate students and staff to do whatever they can to promote sustainability on campus, such as being less wasteful, conserving energy and using less water.

Taking place in February and March, RecycleMania aims to minimize waste and maximize recycling through a series of campus events and challenges. Over an eight-week period, participating colleges and universities report the amount of recycling and waste collected each week on their respective campuses. Schools compare their performance and rally people on campus to reduce and recycle more in order to help the environment and win the competition.

With initiatives such as the Waste Bucket Challenge, in which contestants pledge to minimize their garbage production for at least a week, or the campus ban on bottled-water to cut down on waste, it’s no wonder uOttawa has come out on top of Canadian universities in each RecycleMania.

Want to help maintain a sustainable campus? Here are two cool ways you can get involved:

Take part in Muggy Mondays

Every Monday, anyone who brings their own mug can get a free hot beverage on the second floor of the Social Sciences Building.

Muggy Mondays is not only a great opportunity for members of the University community to get free beverages, but also an incentive to reduce waste. It reinforces positive behavior by students and staff,  so that they keep bringing their mugs daily, resulting in less paper cup use on campus, says Jonathan Rausseo, OCS’s campus sustainability manager.

Learn more about the new zero-waste dining hall

The new dining hall is a state-of-the-art facility that minimizes waste in subtle but effective ways.

First, trays were removed to encourage people to grab less food per serving.

“We want to encourage students to go back for seconds or even thirds (instead), if they are still hungry,” said Rausseo. Additionally, all ingredients on dishes are now labelled, so students can be more selective in choosing dishes. Finally, all food waste is composted and, whenever possible, leftover food is donated to local homeless shelters. These initiatives help reduce the use of water, electricity, dish soap and gas, helping contribute to an overall eco-friendly environment.

For news and event details throughout the campaign, visit the RecycleMania 2016 website and Facebook page, and follow the hashtag #uORecycle on Twitter.

As well, the Office of Campus Sustainability has more cool ways to be sustainable on campus such as its pen recycling program and Free Store.

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