You've probably heard that the University of Waterloo has released sustainability reports in the past, and that there is progress being made on many aspects of sustainability. But how can students, staff and faculty make a meaningful and long-lasting impact on-campus? What behaviours do we have to change to ensure we improve on Waterloo's three main pillars of sustainability—academics, operations and engagement?
Here's a list of 5 things that you can do to make a long-lasting sustainable change on campus.
1. Join the conversation
As obvious as it may sound, sustainability has to start with a discussion! Follow the Sustainability Office on Twitter and like our page on Facebook, where we post relevant sustainability news and stories from around campus and in the community. Your help sharing and amplifying the stories, events, programs, and services that support sustainability are critical to building a campus culture that works for sustainable change.
2. Get up and go - travel green!
Take a sustainable transit mode to school or work to reduce your carbon footprint. Try accessing TravelWise to see your commuting options, search for carpools, and track your trips, or visit the sustainable transportation page to learn about all Waterloo's services.
For example, if you want to bike to school or work, you can gain affordable access to tools, parts and support for minor bike repairs and tune-ups through the Bike Centre. Or, if you're worried for when an emergency happens and you need to leave in a hurry, Waterloo offers an Emergency Ride Home (ERH) program for staff and faculty! There are so many health, economic and environmental benefits even if you take a sustainable transit mode once a week - so what are you waiting for? Get up and go by travelling green!
3. Sort it right
Look into the services that Waterloo offers for recycling different materials, especially e-waste. Every year worldwide, there is 20 to 50 million tonnes of e-waste that is disposed1, and only about 12.5% of e-waste is actually recycled2. By sorting your e-waste and bringing it to designated drop-off centres on campus and in the community, you can reduce the health and environmental impacts of the technology you use every day. Don't forget you can also recycle batteries, paper, containers, textbooks, and more!
4. Eat greener
Food doesn't always come top-of-mind when you think about sustainability, but it can have a big impact. Make conscious choices when purchasing food on campus, even if it's just trimming down on coffee cups. For example, the Lug-a-Mug program allows you to save 10 cents on coffee and tea order if you bring a travel mug to any coffee outlet on campus, including Food Services, Tim Hortons, Starbucks, and Williams. So, save money and reduce waste!
Did you know that reducing your meat consumption is a simple but powerful way to reduce your environmental footprint? You don't have to go cold turkey (pun fully intended), but check out the School of Public Health's Meatless Mondays endorsement and try adding one day of vegetarian meals.
5. Get informed
From the sustainability reports to news and events, the Office of Sustainability wants to keep the UWaterloo community in-the-loop on how to live sustainably. If you can't make it to events on-campus, you can always read through the annual sustainability reports to see the progress being made on sustainability with academics, operations and engagement! And check out the Green Guide from Sustainable Campus Initiative to learn even more green living tips.
As obvious or as surprising as some of these tips are, just start with one and make your way around! You would be surprised about how many students, staff, and faculty care about sustainability as much as you do. These small changes can create a culture shift towards sustainable development campus-wide at UWaterloo.
1 – Dosomething.org. “11 Facts about e-waste”. Available online at: https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-e-waste. Accessed 8 February, 2017.
2 – United States EPA. “Fact Sheet: Management of electronic waste in the United States”. “Available online at: http://ow.ly/o4Au308SIyt. Accessed 8 February, 2017.