Five groups to get your green on

Join a student club and learn about winter proofing your house and other environmentally friendly tips

The Journal Green Supplement
The Journal Green Supplement
Photo: 
Environmental clubs on campus strike a pose. Back row, (l-r): Maryam Adrangi, Josh Thienpont and Natasha Aziz. Front row, (l-r): Michelle, Berquist, Virginia Emery and Sara Elcombe.
Environmental clubs on campus strike a pose. Back row, (l-r): Maryam Adrangi, Josh Thienpont and Natasha Aziz. Front row, (l-r): Michelle, Berquist, Virginia Emery and Sara Elcombe.
Photo: 
Queen’s Sustainability Club members: Gareth Chantler and George Liu.
Queen’s Sustainability Club members: Gareth Chantler and George Liu.
Photo: 

Various environmental clubs on campus are doing their part to increase environmental awareness on campus. Here are some of these clubs.

ASUS Committee for the Environment (ACE)

When asked to describe ACE’s mandate, Josh Thienpont, ArtSci ’07 and chair of the committee, said that it is “twofold.”

“We try to educate [students] about personal impacts, as well as global issues concerning the environment, and [we] also promote, through ASUS, sustainability on campus.”

One of ACE’s principal activities on campus last year included installing recycling boxes for batteries on campus.

“With the exception of residences, nobody would collect batteries … so last year, we had them in Mac-Corry, The Green Room and the CORE [ASUS house],” he said.

ACE also organized the concert portion of Earth Week, when various environmental groups work together towards a week of environmental awareness and celebration.

Last year, ACE also visited elementary schools during Earth Week and gave presentations on environmental issues to about 300 students from Grades 3 to 6, and Thienpont is hoping to do so again.

“Everyone wants to move towards living more sustainably. That’s how we’re going to make up for all the damages we’re doing to the planet.”

But he emphasized the need for action: “It’s easy to throw the word around, but you have to actually do it.”

For students to become more environmentally conscious, Thienpont advised self-education.

“One thing is just to be proactive and use what’s around,” he said, pointing out the abundance of recycling bins on Queen’s campus and the presence of ink cartridge and battery recycling bins in residences.

“In the end, we just want everyone to think about their personal and global impact on the environment.”

To find out more about ACE, e-mail ace@asus.queensu.ca.

Earth Centre

“We’re like the SHRC [Sexual Health Resource Centre], but for the environment,” said Maryam Adrangi, ArtSci ’07, and co-chair of Earth Centre, when asked to sum up the concept behind
the organization.

Just as the SHRC provides equipment for safe and pleasurable sex at cost, as well as the informed opinion of sexperts, Earth Centre too hopes to become the centre that provides environmentally friendly products at cost, as well as having “planeteers” available to help foster discussion and present information and resources on the environment.

The Earth Centre is a project that has been functioning off and on for the last 10 years.

This year, the project is acting an independent committee within the AMS Social Issues Commission.

They hope to obtain their own space for green consumerism in Macgillivray-Brown Hall and are
tentatively scheduled to open at the start of the winter term. At the centre, shoppers can expect
things like recycled printer paper, energy-efficient lightbulbs, biodegradable toilet paper, canvas shopping bags and even biodegradable tampons. There will also be a library with books and pamphlets.

“The focus on consumerism is something that most of the other [environmental] groups don’t address … [we want] to provide concrete resources for students,” said Michelle Berquist, ArtSci ’09 and the other co-chair of Earth Centre.

Berquist believes consumer education can make a big impact. “Students need to be aware that you vote with your dollar. By paying for chosen products, your show your support,” he said. For more information, contact earthcentre@ams.queensu.ca.

Queen’s Environmental Club

There isn’t a whole lot of bureaucracy going on at Queen’s Environmental Club. “We want everyone to feel that they’re a part of it … we’re all working together as a team,” said Marina Neytcheva, ArtSci ’07, group co-founder and the director this year.

Neytcheva said the group was created because there weren’t many clubs looking at local environmental issues. One of the ways the club fulfills its local focus is by visiting elementary schools to discuss the environment.

In February 2006, the group visited Sydenham Elementary School’s Grade 1 and 2 classrooms and focused on the three Rs of reduce, reuse and recycle.

“Sounds simple, but printing on both sides of the page, not printing ‘useless’ pictures in lecture notes, and turning off the lights, for example, are easy things that anyone can do to be environmentally friendly.”

When not speaking in classrooms, the Environmental Club is busy preparing events on campus. Last year’s main events included a kalanchoes plant sale on Valentine’s Day to encourage people to buy sustainable plants rather than pre-cut roses. The plants were grown in the greenhouse located in the Biosciences Complex.

They also hosted a guest speaker from the University of Toronto’s Masters of Conservation Forestry program, and a garbage pick-up during Earth Week. This year’s events are still in the works, but Neytcheva hopes to hold similar events.

Meetings for the Environmental Club are held on Mondays, at 5:30 p.m. in Kingston Hall, Room 200. Contact Marina Neytcheva at 3nm4@qlink.queensu. ca for information on how to get involved.

Queen’s Sustainability

Two years ago, a few grad students who were interested in making Queen’s more sustainable created
the Queen’s Sustainability group.

With a framework provided by the Sierra Youth Coalition, students are able to produce their own reports on campus sustainability.

“Our main mandate is to produce a ... report [once every two years] that sees the sustainability of Queen’s, both from environmental and social perspectives,” said Gareth Chantler, ArtSci ’09 and group co-chair.

Chantler believes the report will provide a solid basis for those who wish to take action.

“Our main way of sharing our findings is probably going to be the sustainability co-ordinator,” Chantler said.

In the past, the group has stayed mainly out of the limelight, but they’re hoping to remain more
in the public eye when their first public report is released later this year. They plan on holding a launch
party with the release of the report at the end of the year, as well as developing an awareness campaign in the meantime.

For more information, contact sustainability@ams.queensu.ca.

STRIVE

Students Taking Responsible Initiatives for a Viable Environment (STRIVE) originally began in 1996 as a fundraiser, and now remains one of the longest-standing environmental groups on campus with many campus initiatives.

They put on such events as “litter-free lunches” and “coffee-cup days,” and organic bake sales provide a taste of their grassroots initiatives.

“We know that some clubs go out and educate people in elementary schools, … [but] we’re more on the student side,” said Sara Elcombe, ArtSci ’08, co-chair of STRIVE this year.

STRIVE also plays a big part in organizing Earth Week, where all the environment-focused groups on campus and in Kingston come together to raise awareness about what they do, and what can be done to help the environment.

Last year’s sponsors varied from the One-Tonne Challenge of Kingston, Tara Natural Foods and the Sleepless Goat. Some highlights of the week included organic lunches, an eco-fair that featured information and workshop booths from various environmental groups, a “green” concert featuring
the band Agent Blue (who are two Queen’s Biology professors during the day), and travel-mug iscounts at the Common Ground.

Virginia Emery, ArtSci ’08 and the other co-chair said “We encourage Queen’s to be more sustainable in all their practices, and also encourage people to think critically about environmental issues by providing a network of support for environmentally minded individuals,” said Emery.

STRIVE kicks off the year with a showing of Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” tentatively on Oct. 18 at Ellis Auditorium at 8 p.m.

In November, STRIVE will have displays at the JDUC on winter-proofing student houses without excessive energy use: covering up the drafts and putting plastic sheets on windows.

“A lot of the times these activities will also save you money, which is convenient,” said Emery.

Another tour of the recycling plant, ghetto green-ups and Earth Week events are also in the works. STRIVE meetings are held every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., in the basement of Macgillivray-Brown Hall. Contact Sara Elcombe and Virginia Emery at strive@ams.queensu.ca.

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