Eight eco-ideas for a sustainable campus

Posted on Monday, February 5, 2018

a community garden full of yellow flowers.

Flowers and vegetables are grown by employees and students at uOttawa’s community gardens.

By Linda Scales

Being green is serious business at uOttawa. This is why we were 45th out of 619 campuses in 2017 on the UI GreenMetric ranking, which compares universities worldwide on sustainability. There are many ways to become engaged with uOttawa’s sustainability goals. Here are eight ideas of various commitment levels suggested by the Office of Campus Sustainability.

1. RecycleMania

There’s a reason why uOttawa heightens its focus on recycling, reducing waste and rethinking consumption habits in February and March. Thank RecycleMania, the annual waste reduction challenge undertaken by colleges and universities across North America. In 2017, uOttawa ranked 33 out of 195 participating universities. Here’s a new way you can help improve the University’s overall standing: put used paper coffee cups into the compost bins.

“Building an eco-culture takes a long time,” says Jonathan Rausseo, campus sustainability manager. “We really want to focus on employees. The students are transient, but professors and staff can help build that culture.”

2. EcoNetwork

Employees wanting to become more involved in these efforts are encouraged to join the EcoNetwork. Monthly workshops on key sustainability themes offer practical solutions and tips. Some upcoming topics include energy use, sustainable transportation and green events. The next workshop, in March, will be about changes in recycling. To encourage the development of uOttawa’s eco-culture, employees will also be taught how to share the information with colleagues for peer-to-peer learning.

3. Bottled water free campus

Use your reusable bottle at the many water fountains on campus. Since 2010, when the University became the first bottled-water-free campus in Ontario, bottled water hasn’t been sold here. Coming soon will be vending machines offering reusable water bottles for sale.

4. Muggy Mondays

Stop at the Social Sciences Building every Monday from 8:30 a.m. to noon for fair trade coffee, tea and hot chocolate – all free – with your reusable mug. Did you know your mug can also be used to save money? Take it to any campus coffee shop and receive a discount when you buy a hot beverage.

5. Community gardens

You might not consider gardening as a workplace activity, but more than 50 community garden plots were available to employees and students in 2017. Growing flowers and vegetables is a relaxing and healthy pastime, and anyone can participate. Compost and water are provided for all plots.

6. Organic Farmer’s Box

Participating in Community Shared Agriculture helps to increase sustainable food options at uOttawa. Ordering an organic food basket that is delivered to campus will give you fresh, local and seasonal produce each week or every other week from June to December.

7. Free Store

Located at 647 King Edward, the name of this store says it all: everything is free. Avoid sending things to landfills by donating what you don’t want and taking what you need. All donations are cleaned and sorted before being stocked on the store’s shelves. Commonly found items include clothing, footwear, towels and blankets, office supplies, kitchenware, electronics, lamps, textbooks and novels. One thing of note: half of all donations are given to designated local charities.

8. Transportation

With the light-rail transit stop soon operational at uOttawa and the University’s long-term plan for a car-free core, there’s a lot that could be said about transportation. For now, consider some sustainable options such as the carpooling program, which includes preferential parking and an emergency ride program. For cyclists, there’s the Bike Share Program, bike repair stations, a bike co-op and a reminder that you have access to the showers at Sports Services.

Keep up on sustainability at uOttawa by subscribing to the Office of Campus Sustainability’s newsletter.

Student with her cup in front of Muggy Monday poster.

Fair trade coffee, tea and hot chocolate are available at no charge for anyone with a reusable mug on Monday mornings at the Faculty of Social Sciences.

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