Anderson wants to ‘green-ify’ campus

New co-ordinator hopes to install colour-coded recycling boxes around campus

Blake Anderson wants to focus his attention on the Common Ground and the AMS Pub Services, which produce a lot of food waste. There, he wants to implement composting programs like the Tea Room has done.
Blake Anderson wants to focus his attention on the Common Ground and the AMS Pub Services, which produce a lot of food waste. There, he wants to implement composting programs like the Tea Room has done.

Last year the AMS established a sustainability office in an effort to make the Queen’s campus more environmentally-friendly, following the likes of the University of British Columbia (UBC), who has had such offices in place since 1999.

Although the position was only created on a one-year trial basis, Blake Anderson, ArtSci ’07 and the first sustainability coordinator, hopes it’s a step in the right direction towards making Queen’s a more sustainable university.

At the Integrated Learning Centre (ILC)— home of the new Tearoom—Anderson talked about to immersing “ourselves in the campus’ green culture” and to find out more about what his plans are o “green-ify” the campus. Anderson said he spent most of the summer working to perfect the office’s
mission statement and met with various AMS services, committees and clubs to raise awareness about the new office that strives to integrate them.

“Now that students have been back for a month, I’m really starting to see my initial goals come to life,” he said. “I’m aiming to bring together campus groups such as Queen’s Sustainability, ASUS Committee for the Environment (ACE), the Living Lab, Tearoom and others, because there’s currently not much linkage between them.”

He believes his position will act as a resource—among other things—between the groups to improve such issues as energy consumption, waste reduction and recycling among many others.

Moreover, he wants to use the office to improve students’ educational experiences. For example, Anderson told the Journal that he plans on hiring students from Environmental Sustainability 410, an environmental science class, to be consultants around campus. “From a quick glance around the University, it’s not hard to notice that there is a serious issue with waste,” Anderson said. Two years ago, in an attempt to reduce the amount of waste the University produced in campus cafeterias, Students Taking Responsible Initiatives towards a Viable Environment (STRIVE) found that 75 per cent of cafeteria waste could be recycled, 15 per cent could be composted in the JDUC and the remaining 10 per cent was pure waste.

Anderson said he’s trying to make students realize the importance of recycling around campus and how it is up to them to sort plastic from glass.

“It’s in the custodians’ contracts not to sort recyclable material,” he said. “That means if there is one plastic bottle in a bin of glass bottles; it all has to be thrown out.” He’s working to make sorting easier or students and explained that colour-coded boxes may be instituted around campus in the near future.
Over the summer, the AMS Publishing and Copy Centre also improved their recyclingprogram when hey made the switch to 100 per cent recycled paper. “Since they use 4.5 million sheets of paper per year, this is a stride in the right direction,” he said. Blake also added that they are working on implementing an overhead transparency recycling program.

Positive feedback has been pouring in from recent changes to make services more environmentally friendly, Anderson said. One of these changes is the Greenroom’s Trashbook—unique coiled notebook made entirely from recycled paper.

Anderson, who uses the books himself, said they’re always sold out—which, he said, proves students like the idea. Anderson realizes the need to direct more attention to services such as the Common Ground and The AMS Pub Services, which produce a great deal of food waste. He hopes to implement composting programs, much like the Tearoom has done. Anderson said the Tearoom has developed a strategy to compost not only food waste, but also coffee cups and tea bags. Michele Romanow, Tearoom headmanager, said that their coffee cups are made from corn and the tea bags are made from silk, which makes them both biodegradable. She opened one of the Tearoom’s four large vermin-composts in the back of the ILC, which contain over 18 pounds of red wiggler worms that can eat up to ten times their own body mass. She explained that the worms function to break down the food waste in the compost at a faster pace than it would normally break down.

She pulled out the remnants of a moist coffee cup, which had been in the compost for a few days and it was already starting to blend in with the earth. Anderson told the Journal that another one of his goals this year is to engage Queen’s faculty members and form links with staff, students and different groups on campus. “I want people to see how our pilot projects have saved Queen’s millions of dollars,” Anderson said. “I think this will really show the administration the environment is something
we care about and ultimately, this will help all of us to advance closer to mutual goals.”

Physical and Plant Services has already taken steps to reduce energy use on campus, something Anderson hopes will continue and show results.

“Jason Laker, dean of student affairs, is responding well to the sustainability proposal so far and is very much in support of the efforts everyone is taking,” Anderson said. In the future, he hopes to emulate aspects of UBC’s sustainability office, which is considered a world leader. “Their office currently has eight full-time staff, hundreds of volunteers, and is saving over three million a year by devoting attention to the environment,” he said. “Queen’s is considered a middle-ground university in terms of sustainability and I want to raise the bar and be a leader.”

Anderson said the AMS has been a major support system for the Sustainability Office and hopes to turn it into an environmentally friendly organization that will make Queen’s a leader in sustainability.
“In order to do this, we really have to practice what we preach,” he said. “I see this as a historical movement for the AMS and it could ultimately change Queen’s.”

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