Earlier this semester TRU was dubbed the “coolest school” in Canada and the United States for its innovative sustainability initiatives.
In light of this title, TRU’s Environment and Sustainability office hosted a variety of events on campus to show students ways they can reduce, reuse and recycle during Waste Reduction Week in Canada.
From Oct. 21st-25, the office set up sustainability booths in various buildings on campus for students to visit and learn about a host of sustainability projects including a short video contest and a waste reduction pledge.
“The whole point of the week is to get people to think about their waste and little things they can do to reduce it,” James Gordon, Environmental Programs and Research Coordinator, told The Omega, “And I do say little things because what I’ve determined over the years of doing this many times is (that it’s best to) just start with one thing.”
Gordon insisted that a person doesn’t need to commit to giving up using plastic for the rest of their life. Instead, he said it is much more practical for them to try to make a “substantial change” that they could put into practice daily.
“We’re living in a waste disaster zone right now around the world and the oceans are just getting completely hammered,” he said.
“In particular, landfills are filling up and it’s not just the pollution part but the actual waste. It’s so much usable things that we could reuse instead of just throwing it into the landfill.”
Indeed, one of TRU’s sustainability office’s newest programs, the Eco-Reusable Container, seeks to decrease the number of waste placed in landfills.
Gordon explained that the project revolves around a reusable food container system with a clam shell.
“It’s very simple. You go to one of the four participating outlets, you get your food, you ask for an eco-container, you eat your food, you bring back the dirty container and they give you a punch card,” he said.
“On the back there’s 10 spaces and they punch one of them once you return the dirty container. Once you get ten punches, you get a free $10 lunch.”
During the week, students were also asked to make S.M.A.R.T waste reduction pledges. Gordon said they wanted the pledges to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely, because it increased the likelihood of students adopting them into their daily routines.
“Again, it’s maybe not so realistic to say ‘I’m going to ban plastics from my life until I die,’ but for instance, my pledge was to not use plastic bags for one month.”
Gordon also spoke about the Fill-it- Forward program, which encourages students to reuse their travel mugs and water bottles, instead of buying paper cups and plastic bottles.
“So, you get a sticker for free and put it on your water bottle or your travel mug. You download an app, you register, then every time you refill you scan the barcode and your name automatically goes into a draw to win monthly prizes,” he explained.
“Plus, a little bit of money goes to a large development project in a part of the world that needs clean water.”
The sustainability office is also launching the Pick Me Up Challenge, which challenges students to pick up one piece of litter every day for thirty days and a short video contest where can submit a “simple, silent and ideally humorous” short video about responsible waste management.
“The reason silent because there’s ‘x’ amount of international students that are not that familiar with English, so if you make it without words and still get the point across we’re hoping that will get the message across.”