BY HAYLEY SMITH and LAURA-LEE CASCAGNETTE
Many students think about the impact the world has on them. But do they ever stop and wonder about the impact they are leaving on the environment? Did you know that Canadians throw away approximately 57 million single use straws everyday? That’s 2 billion a year, according to Waste Reduction Week Canada.
Canadians drink 2.5 billion litres of water from plastic bottles annually – that’s enough to fill 1,000 Olympic size swimming pools. This is contributing to the 8 million metric tonnes of plastic that is entering the ocean each year.
Sheridan College, aware of the negative impact school waste has on the environment, started an initiative in 2013 called the Zero Waste Mission, to put the school on the path to a greener future. Michael Melro, a Sheridan grad working in the Sustainability Office is finding ways to achieve zero waste on campus.
“We have outreach programs where we have volunteers get out and spread the word on campus and times when we go outside the campus. We have sustainability events such as repair cafes, encouraging people to fix items and not throw them away, campus clean-ups and bike to work days to lessen our carbon footprint,” says Melro.
Sheridan has also created a way that we can actively watch their carbon footprint. “Outside of the annual audits, we do have a tab on our Sheridan sustainability website called the dashboard,” Melro says. “The dashboard is a site that measures in real time how much water and electricity is used over a monthly and yearly period, how many pages printed etc.”
The dashboard provides a snapshot of Sheridan’s short-term goals. But there is a long-term strategy that involves an integrated Energy and Climate Master Plan. The plan includes a total revamping of any outdated facilities at both Trafalgar and Davis campuses, helping to reduce the amount of source energy usage by 50 to 60 per cent among other things. The goal is set for 2020 and the Sustainability team is working hard to achieve it.
Melissa Cesario, a first-year Media Fundamentals student, says she is eager to get involved with the Zero Waste Mission.
“I feel as though I could take part in a zero waste initiative by thinking about the remnant of products I may use in my daily life, or even at school. Instead of maybe bringing food in a plastic bag for example, I could bring a reusable container. Or instead of bringing a plastic water bottle, I could bring a reusable one and refill it at the water fountains located in various areas around campus,” says Cesario.
Making your life waste free may seem like a daunting task if you don’t know where to start. Sheridan has a fews ways for you to get involved and learn more about a zero waste future. Students can join the Mission Zero outreach team at Sheridan Trafalgar Sustainability Office or, you can head to the Davis campus this Friday, Oct. 6, and help the green team clean up the Brampton grounds from noon to 1 PM. In your everyday life, it can be as simple incorporating five steps into your daily routine.