By Hanna Hett
On the case of the green thumb
The culture on campus is not one that screams eco-friendly: the current recycling program can seem disorganized and confusing, compost bins are only found in a few rooms. The composting program does not run in the winter, and the food available to purchase on campus is typically heavily packaged.
Saying that, there are some dedicated staff and students who are working hard to make our campus more sustainable. If you want to try to lessen your environmental footprint on campus, there are plenty of ways that you can contribute.
Take the bus, bike, or walk
We already have access to Waterloo’s public transit service with our WatCards, which can take you almost anywhere in the city. You can purchase budget-friendly bicycles from the Bike Centre’s Bike auction in both Spring and Fall terms. If you don’t want to commit to ownership, they all also rent out bikes for the term or monthly. Finally, if you live close enough to campus, you can always walk and enjoy the sunshine.
Avoid the packaged food items
If you’re ordering a sandwich, order it from the sandwich station and skip the pre-made one that is wrapped in plastic.
Have a to-go mug with you to fill up with coffee or other drinks, instead of using disposable ones — you will also save 10 to 20 cents every time you use it.
If you are living in UWP, they have a relatively new Eco-Container program in their cafeteria, where you can borrow a reusable take-out container for your food instead of the disposable ones.
Try to throw organic wastes in the compost bins on campus
Unfortunately, compost bins can be far and few in between on campus. Luckily, you can find them in places like the Environment Coffee Shop and in Williams in Environment 3. Keep an eye out, they’re littered throughout campus.
Make sure you properly clean your containers before you recycle them
The recycling at UW is outdated. There are typically two large blue bins, with one for paper and one for containers. It is important to properly clean containers tomake sure they are not contaminated before recycling them, as they will often get rejected (and thus thrown in with the garbage) if they are not clean.
Try to buy materials used or second hand
Feds Used Books is a great place to buy secondhand textbooks. There’s also Value Village in St. Jacobs. The Sustainable Campus Initiative has secondhand clothing sales every term, where they sell used clothes for a great deal.
UW has a long way to go before we will be fully sustainable, and to get there it needs dedicated volunteers. The Sustainable Campus Initiative, Fossil Free UW, Climate Students, or the UW Campus Market Garden are a few examples of student-run organizations working hard to make our campus a better place.