Sustainability initiatives hit Queen’s

Recycle My Cell part of Waste Reduction Week, Residence Energy Challenge also set to begin

Over 300 high schools and post-secondary schools combined are participating in the Recycle My Cell challenge nation-wide.
Over 300 high schools and post-secondary schools combined are participating in the Recycle My Cell challenge nation-wide.

Approximately 71 per cent of all Canadians own or plan to own a cell phone or similar device.

This week, students, faculty and staff are invited to take part in the Recycle My Cell campaign by dropping off their cell phones, smart phones, batteries and pagers for electronic recycling. These devices can be dropped off in a collection box in the AMS office in the JDUC.

“Given that these devices are traded in or disposed of within two years of purchasing it’s important that people are aware of how they can dispose of the devices and batteries responsibly,” Queen’s Waste and Information Co-ordinator Llynwen Osborne told the Journal in an e-mail.

This initiative is part of the nation-wide Waste Reduction Week (WRW). The program first started in 2001 and was formed by recycling councils and environmental groups. While this is the university’s first year participating in WRW, Queen’s Sustainability Office raises awareness of how to reduce waste and develops campus sustainability initiatives, said Osborne.

Christopher Hilkene, communications director for WRW in Canada, said Recycle My Cell campaign is one of two major initiatives taking place across the country and is the official sponsor of WRW.

“It’s a challenge that we issued to secondary and post-secondary institutions to recycle as many cell phones and accessories as possible between Oct. 18 and Nov. 30,” he said, adding that over 300 schools nation-wide are involved.

Students in high school and post-secondary schools are a particularly important target group, Hilkene said.

“For Recycle My Cell I would say it’s because students from their late teens to 20s are the most active users of wireless technology. They produce the largest amount of waste,” he said, adding that recycling cell phones and accessories diverts waste from landfills.

Hilkene said schools apply independently to participate in the campaign.

“Any[one] of that target group that wants to participate can apply through our website to a have a recycling station sent to them,” he said.

The second challenge is called Ease My Load and involves WRW’s mascot Atlas, Hilkene said.

“We want to get people to download the photo cut-out of Atlas and incorporate it into their waste reduction activities,” he said, adding that people can submit videos to YouTube or upload photos to the WRW website.

Hilkene said prizing will be organized for the best entries.

According to Osborne, Queen’s has also developed an item exchange network called Freecycle@Work, independent from WRW, where the campus community can advertise items they no longer need for others to use with no cost attached.

“It could be anything: furniture, clothing, equipment …. Using this site to exchange unwanted items saves money, ensures less waste goes to landfill and supports our campus culture of sustainability,” she said, adding that students can help reduce waste at the University simply by being more aware of the choices they’re making.

“Even seemingly small things like bringing a re-usable mug or refillable bottle on campus or packing a waste free lunch, double-sided printing and recycling printer toner cartridges can all add up,” she said.

“Given that there are more than 22,000 students on campus combined with 7,000 faculty and staff we can make a big difference if we act collectively. Individual choices have an impact.”

That mentality where everyone can make a difference is echoed in Queen’s fourth annual Residence Energy Challenge, which is also occurring from Oct. 24 to Nov. 14.

Lauren Long, sustainability coordinator for Main Campus Residence Council (MCRC), said the challenge is a competition between all of Queen’s residences to see which residence can reduce the greatest percentage of their energy consumption.

Last year Victoria Hall won the competition. In total, all of the residences last year saved enough energy to power two and a half houses for a year, Long said.

While the Residence Energy Challenge is a separate initiative than Waste Reduction Week, Long said the two events share the same mentality of saving energy.

“The reason why both events happen at the beginning of the year is because students are settling in to campus life but haven’t formed hard habits. This is a crucial time to get students to change their habits and rethink their decisions,” Long, ArtSci ’13, said.

Over the past month MCRC has been raising awareness for this challenge.

“We’ve had poster campaigns, Facebook groups, and have told the dons in meetings so the students all should know about the challenge at this point,” Long said, adding that there are many small things that students can do to save energy.

“Mini fridges use up half the energy in residence rooms, so students can share the fridge in the common room or roommates can share a fridge,” she said. “Most energy consumption happens when electronics are plugged in and not even being used.”

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