Waste Reduction Week an opportunity to live sustainably
John Bruce, CONTRIBUTOR
It’s not easy being green, but we’re trying.
Oct. 17 to 21 is Waste Reduction Week at Red River College. The college recycled 13.63 metric tonnes of food and beverage containers in 2015 and diverts more than 50 per cent of its waste from going to landfills, accord- ing to its sustainability office.
But is there anything more RRC can do to reduce waste?
The University of Winnipeg phased out selling disposable water bottles in 2009 after more than 70 per cent of students who voted supported the ban.
In 2011, RRC’s sustainability office researched the issue. It found the majority of students and staff thought they should have the choice to buy bottled water at the college.
The research also found the majority of students and staff would use bottle fill stations if they were available.
This information was used to get fund- ing to retrofit 16 fountains into bottle fill stations on the Notre Dame Campus, where they have a total of 51 water fountains and fill stations. The Exchange District Campus’s six water fountains were retrofitted with gooseneck fillers in 2010.
Alexis Brandt, 23, is a business administration student at EDC. She said she had trouble finding water fountains when she first started school and thinks more should be built on campus.
“I’ve definitely filled my bottle up in the bathroom when I’m desperate,” Brandt said.
Sara MacArthur, manager of sustainability at RRC, said the sustainability office would advocate for building more fountains at the EDC if there was a de- mand.
Canada’s Greenest Employers has recognized RRC six years straight. The college encourages carpooling for students and staff and hosts events like the Commuter Challenge, where the college won gold for high percentage of participation in 2015.
“It’s my understanding that the ban of water bottles [at the University of Winni- peg] didn’t yield a decrease in single use bottles as people ended up switching to … some other type of beverage,” MacArthur wrote in an email.
“Personally I am not a supporter of bans to elicit a behaviour change. I think we have a responsibility to educate students and staff around sustainable issues.”
The college has Bottled Water Free Day every March to encourage reusable bottle use, which includes a bottled water versus tap water taste test.
Keep your eye out for Waste Reduction Week events that in the past have had prizes like free coffee for a year when you’re spotted with a reusable mug.