Give Wind a Chance

In Southern Ontario, the anti-wind movement has become quite aggressive. I have first-hand experience of this hate-on-all-things-wind, as turbines are being built by my grandfather’s cottage and home on the lakeshore (and let me tell you, he is not happy).

At family gatherings my grandpa will go off about the health issues, noise, and the unattractiveness of these wind turbines by residential areas.  Seeing as he feels so strongly about these green energy initiatives, I decided to look into the issue a little further. As I reviewed both sides of the wind debate, I found most evidence leans towards wind as a sustainable form of energy.  There are plenty of common anti-wind myths, although the following are some of the most common:

1) Wind farms are loud. False. In fact, strict guidelines on wind turbines ensure that the noise is at a suitable level for residential areas. On a decibels chart, wind turbines fall around 50 (more than a bedroom but less than an office).

2) Wind farms are dangerous to human health. False. Wind farms create no emissions, waste products, or harmful pollutants. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health performed extensive reviews and concluded that there is no evidence to indicate that the low frequency sounds cause adverse health effects.

3) Wind energy is expensive. False. Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner analyzed the average power bill and found that renewable energy accounts for only 0.2 cents of the average 13 cent/kWh a household pays for electricity.

As for those concerned with the looks of the wind turbines- take a look at the Alberta oil sands and tell me they look better.

Of course those who live near these new wind farms will have concerns with the project, but these misconceptions need to be addressed. So please, give wind a chance!


Meatless Mondays

For most, the thought of giving up meat from their diet seems quite daunting. But how about one day a week? Individuals who decide to participate in this growing movement help to reduce environmental impacts, and improve their own health by reducing the global meat consumption.

I am a firm believer in that little differences can make a big change. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization lists the meat industry among the top contributors to the world’s environmental issues (including acid rain, pollution, and deforestation). If each person decided to eliminate meat consumption for just one day a week this impact would drastically decrease.

Individuals may choose to participate in Meatless Monday for various other reasons. Health benefits, including; decreased risk of chronic diseases, lower levels of obesity, and type two diabetes, are a common reason for lowering meat intake. Others are concerned with animal cruelty- by opting for a vegetarian diet individuals show they no longer support the conditions many factory farm animals are raised in.

Ready for the challenge? Eating veggie doesn’t have to be a pain! There are many easy (and cheap) recipes available online.  Beans, lentils, tofu, and nuts are all great sources of protein and quick fillers. If you’re really stuck for ideas, is a good place to start. For those of you willing to give it a try, I give you all a big high five!

Grocery Bags: Reusable?

Trips to Zehrs, Metro, or No Frills often entail the use of plastic grocery bags provided by the store with a charge of $0.05 a bag at some locations. What can be disturbing about such bags is how they can contribute as extra litter around campus and even create more wastefulness per consumer. As students of the University of Guelph, one of the greenest universities across Ontario, we can do our part in limiting the use of plastic grocery bags and maximizing them as the same time.

For example, the next time you want to make your way down to a grocery store to purchase your fav frozen pizza or a late midnight snack, bring some grocery bags of your own from the last time you got groceries. You’ll reduce the amount of grocery bags that end up at landfills as waste and help save yourself 5 cents depending on the grocery store.

Even bringing in canvas bags that are handed out to each new student in their residence rooms at the beginning of the school year can be used to help carry back those groceries. Bookstore bags and Hospitality canvas bags are a common trend on campus to be carrying groceries in as well.

So whether it’s your turn to get the groceries for your house or you’re desperately running out of milk, trips to the grocery store can be environmentally friendly with the reuse of plastic grocery bags or those spiffy UoG Guelph tote bags.

Big Idea: Don’t get new grocery bags when you’re in line to pay, reuse old ones or bring bags that you would use again from home (ex. backpack, purse, tote bags).

By: Rakshika Rajakaruna


Reusable Resources

As many of you might know already, there are many resources on campus to help you on your way in becoming a more sustainable student. Some of these have special incentives too!

To start off, students who purchase hot beverages (coffee, tea, hot chocolates!) using their own reusable mugs ALWAYS get their drink for the price of a regular instead of a large size! On “Muggy Mondays”, a campus wide event every week ,you also get double stamps on your Hospitality coffee cards which speeds you up to that ultimate free drink you’ve been patiently waiting for. With Muggy Mondays in mind, you’ll be surprised to see how much extra pocket change you have!

A new initiative that has just started taking place on campus is the purchase of a $5 “I am reusable” card which allows students to purchase & eat meals in the UC centre 6 food court with reusable containers. These containers are then collected back after every meal and students can grab a new one with their next meal when they present their “I am reusable” card. This is a pretty sweet deal! You don’t have to lug around your own reusable container, don’t have to do any extra dishes, AND you’re eating an eco-guilt free meal all at the same time! How awesome is that?!

Ever wondering what to do with those extra plastic bags you have lying around your room? If you feel like getting rid of them, how about donating them to the Small Animal Clinic locater near the OVC. People often use them as dog litter bags for dog walkers and it’s a great way to get rid of them in a reusable fashion as well.

Lastly, want to get rid of those old cell phones, chargers, batteries? Drop by the Sustainability Office located on Trent Lane. We’re more than happy to take them off your hands!

For more on campus resources to help you minimize your ecological footprint checkout:

By: Rakshika Rajakaruna


A Greener Way of Getting Around!

Why use a bus pass?

What’s the CSA Bike Centre?

Carpooling? Sounds fun!

Using a bus pass provides an immense amount of benefits both for you and the environment! As you already know, travelling to and from school on the bus allows one to cut back on the costs of owning and driving a car! Payments like insurance, license renewal fees, parking passes, and possibly repairs all add up to chunk out of your pocket, and let’s face it, gas ain’t that cheap either! So why go through paying all of that when you can grab a stress free ride by using your UoG bus pass? It’s a part of our tuition and a more than feasible means of getting around Guelph!

The CSA Bike Centre is an awesome resource for getting handy with your bike and you might even learn a thing or two there by using the array of tools they have available for use. Did I mention that this great CSA service is free?! Biking is a great option to get to school and an awesome way to get into shape while also reducing vehicle emissions in the air. Also it’s a super cheap way of getting around!

So what if you do own a car and opt for driving it to school every day? Why not pick up other friends or take turns carpooling other people you know who may own a car. You’ll find you won’t be breaking the bank that often for gas money and that having an extra person or two in the car will provide itself for some engaging conversation! Carpooling can be a great option for the winter when you don’t feel like shovelling your driveway everyday to take your car out too!

Let’s take a step, bike ride, flash of student ID, or turn in dropping a size in our eco footprint and hopefully be the generation in changing our impact on the environment.

By: Rakshika Rajakaruna

Become an Eco-Friendly Shopaholic

By: Rakshika Rajakaruna

Not only is being ecofriendly good for the environment, it can also be good for your wallet.

Since the holidays, most of us are probably loaded up with new gadgets, gift cards and all around stuff. Some of us may still be on a shopping high from the oh-so sweet deals we’ve gotten over the break. But how about before lining up to pay for a new item, you consider whether you really need it. The production of certain products impacts the environment. Components such as the wrapping and packaging of a product also play a role in the impact the disposal of a product has on the environment. When thinking about purchasing something you really want (not need), try waiting 30 days after the first time you decide you want it to really make your decision. This will also help control impulse buying habits!

With purchases that are necessary, try replacing the disposable products with reusable ones. Things like razors, batteries, and food storage containers are everyday items that can be reused when one is using a non-disposable version of the product. It may be more costly at first but over time you’ll find buying packages of disposable razor blades and ziploc bags every month will start to take a beating on your wallet. Ink cartridges can be reused by simply buying the refill ink and not the cartridge itself. Whenever possible, try replacing disposable products with reusable ones.

Lastly, when you’re thinking about making a purchase, try thinking about if you can buy that product used. Or even borrow it? Things like stereos, cushions, or even coffee pots can be shared amongst friends and help cut down on the cost of buying the product brand new if it won’t be used that often. Or if it is going to be used often, how about buying it from a local thrift store, Ebay, or Amazon. These sites are great for having a variety of used products for sale.

Throwing cash away at items that aren’t needed, can only be used once, or can be found used or borrowed wastes money and can have a negative impact on the environment.

Beer bottles are so much more

Beer bottles are so much more

It’s the time of year where garages, storage rooms, and the tops of refrigerators are filled with glass bottles of different shapes and sizes. Whether if they’re from the crazy St. Patty’s events from this past weekend or from the end of exams party from last year, beer bottles and such can accumulate and accumulate fast.

So what can you do with empty bottles?

Well first off, how about getting some cash for them? The Beer Store will gladly take them off your hands. The LCBO has a sustainability program where if you pay a 10-20 cents deposit per bottle for your alcohol, you will get the deposit back if you return the empties to the Beer Store. Bottles from beer already have this deposit added to the charge so by not returning them to get recycled at the Beer Store, you could be losing out on getting an additional 5-10 bucks back. It’s a super easy way to recycle while also getting a bit of cash that could be used for your next drink venture.

If the design and the shape of certain bottles intrigues you enough that you wouldn’t want to get rid of them, then how about decorating them? If you thoroughly wash and remove the label from some wine bottles, they could make for some really interesting-looking centerpieces and vases.

How about using them for gardening?

If you have enough patience, filling a bottle with plant soil and seeds is an easy way to use them for flower pots. Start by filling the bottle ¾ of the way up with plant soil and add the seeds with some additional soil overtop. Water once a day and place by a window or sun-filled place, and in 2 weeks you’ll be enjoying a beer-born plant all your own!

The recycling of old glass bottles helps to avoid getting them into landfills and into an environment where they can be reused. With so many things one can do with them, the sound of glasses clinking will be one to trigger the thought of creativity and petty cash.

By: Rakshika Rajakaruna