Encouraging students to keep their campus ‘green’

Incentivising environmentally friendly behaviour in the community

The University of Winnipeg (U of W) has been committed to creating a more environmentally sustainable basis for operations, and has plans to continue doing so.

One way in the past has been making it easier for students to actively use their own reusable water bottles by installing filling stations around campus. Encouraging students to bring their own containers for food and drink has been an ongoing goal for the U of W.

Joseph Wasylycia-Leis, the campus sustainability co-ordinator at U of W says there are continual efforts from the sustainability office to increase staff, faculty and student engagement.

“There certainly is a need for making it as easy as possible for students to bring containers from home and to avoid food waste packaging,” he says. Wasylycia-Leis offers an alternative idea to having food container washing stations around campus.

“I think there’s a readymade solution at hand, which is giving students access to kitchenettes,” he says. “Kitchens and kitchenettes are fairly common around campus for staff and faculty, but students do not have access to most of them.”

Wasylycia-Leis says installing washing stations would be an unnecessary change of infrastructure, and that building them would realistically not be in the facility’s budget.

Chantal Roy, a student at the U of W, agrees that washing stations would be unnecessary. Roy brings her own food in reusable glass containers to campus, but usually waits to get home to wash these dishes.

“If I really needed to wash it out before putting it back in my bag, I would just go to the washroom and rinse it in the sink there,” she says.

Roy is interested in some of the other efforts to reduce waste around campus.

“We’re doing some cool things on campus, like the reusable cups by the water fountain that anyone can use in the Riddell cafeteria,” she says.

In addition to the cups, Diversity Food Services offers a reusable container program, Wasylycia-Leis says.

“There’s a specific container that you buy from them one time, and they wash it and replace it for you,” he says. “We incentivise and promote that program when we do outreach, and we often have a prize pack that includes those containers.”

Diversity Food Service’s website encourages students to purchase these $5 containers in support of the campus sustainability objectives.

In further efforts to integrate sustainability awareness in the everyday lives of students and staff, sub-meters have been installed on some buildings to measure levels of water, natural gas and electricity use in different areas of those buildings.

“One of the cool things about sub-metering is that we’ll be able to display those numbers in real time,” Wasylycia-Leis says. “There’s a monitor at the door to (the) Richardson (Building) that shows the logistics of that building.”

We would love to have more screens like that around campus that show real-time water consumption as a way of reminding people that they are part of a system, and it takes all of us working together to really see improvements on those fronts,” he says.

Published in Volume 73, Number 10 of The Uniter (November 15, 2018)

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