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Waste Reduction

Waste Reduction is a key program of sustainability. Wants and needs for different objects should be carefully considered when buying something. The lifecycle of a product is something that should be well understood from producing to disposing.

Most of us were taught about the three R’s of sustainability when in primary school (reduce, reuse, recycle) but that has since expanded to five 5 R’s of sustainability (refuse, reduce, reuse, rot and recycle). We have worked hard to implement waste reduction programs to allow you to have an easier time being sustainable on campus. Here is a quick list of programs we have implemented to help students use the five R’s:

  1. Refuse: We actively encourage students who are able to use reusable items whenever able and possible. The Laurier Bookstore offers stainless steel straw sets, travel mugs, and reusable bags so that the next time you are out and about you can refuse single-use plastics wherever you go.
  2. Reduce: We have worked hard with Food Services to provide you with great Food and Drink Discounts to encourage you to be more sustainable. This includes a $0.40 discount for bringing your own mug to any food vendor location (save even more at Veritas! (link to Veritas)) and an awesome Eco-Container Program that allows you to reduce your environmental footprint.
  3. Reuse: Following a successful pilot in 2018, we now offer you a Freestore all year round, full of gently used items donated by the Laurier community! This helps you reuse items rather than creating new waste, and it’s free!
  4. Rot & 5. Recycle: We understand that not everything can be refused, reduced or reused so we have worked with Waste Management to provide you with organics and commingled recycling waste streams to allow you to properly dispose of the little waste that you do produce.

Organics

Did you know that when you send organic waste to the landfill it produces greenhouse gases, particularly methane, as it decomposes? Methane is 20 to 30 times more damaging to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. This is as a result of the decomposing organic scraps not being able to get enough oxygen in compacted landfills. 

If you dispose of that same organic waste into the organic stream, decomposition generates carbon dioxide instead due to special treatment that allows it to decompose aerobically (decompose with oxygen). While harmful, carbon dioxide is significantly less damaging than methane and has the potential to then be absorbed by different plants and/or trees as a necessary nutrient. The compost can then also be used to provide nutrient-rich food for gardens and crops.

We offer organic waste streams in every building on campus and actively encourage you to consider where you are disposing of your organic waste before you throw it away!

Fun Fact: In 2014, there were over 162 composting facilities in Canada

Organics in Residence

Over the past several years we have been working to bring organics to Residence buildings at Laurier. As a result of a successful composting pilot in the 2018-2019 academic year in MacDonald House (a double dorm-style residence) and Leupold Residence (an all-female double dorm-style residence) we have worked with Residence and Facilities to provide organic infrastructure (i.e. bins) to several residences (Clara Conrad Hall and Bricker Residence) for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Move Out

The Move Out Program at Wilfrid Laurier University has operated for over 5 years and has successfully diverted over 25 tons of waste from landfill (which is the equivalent of four elephants in weight)!

During Winter Term exams, bins are placed in residence to collect four streams: e-waste, textiles, textbooks, and non-perishable food. These line up with the items that can be donated and recycled through our partnerships with the Waterloo Region Food Bank, Textbooks for Change, TechWreakers and Diabetes Canada. At the end of exams, members of the Sustainability Office team and volunteers go to each residence and bag and move the bins and items to the curb. The Grounds team then pick them up and move them to a warehouse. Once at the warehouse, the group works for a few days to sort and bag/box everything for the partners to then come to pick up.

We are proud of the success of the residence Move Out Program in the past few years and the amount of waste that we have diverted from landfill. With this success, the initiative was expanded last summer to include an August collection and a week-long Freestore Program for students as they return to campus.

Freestore

In August 2018, the Sustainability Office ran Laurier’s first Freestore. After a two-week donation drive where household items, clothing and furniture were collected from students and the community, items were displayed at 57 Lodge Street for the Freestore. During O-week, all Laurier students came to take items they needed for free. The program was highly successful, with dozens of students almost clearing the store out within two hours of opening.

Following this successful pilot program, we are now running a permanent, year-round Freestore on campus. We are currently investigating the best place fo the freestore but it will be a small space where we display household items, school supplies and limited clothing, all for free. Through this program, we are helping the Laurier community tackle issues of waste in our consumerist society.

As a Laurier student, you are welcome to come to look for and take items you need.  During the school semesters, we are open:

  • Monday, 1 p.m.–3 p.m.
  • Tuesday, 10am–noon.
  • Friday, noon–2pm.

At the Freestore, we also offer resources on where to get other items second hand or cheaply, without continuing the cycle of waste and consumerism present at large stores. 

We invite you to donate any household items and school supplies you don’t need so that we can give them out to other students who could use these items! As a student, when you are packing to go home and find things you need to get rid of, you can consider donating them to the Move Out Program.

If you are an upper-year student then consider looking at the list of partners above as possible people to donate to. If there is an item that you are unsure of where to donate we welcome you to send us an email at sustainability@wlu.ca with the title "Move Out Donation Question."

To keep up to date with our hours, what we have on offer, seasonal pop-up events and more follow us on Facebook and Instagram at @LaurierFreestore. If you are interested in volunteering with the Freestore, please email us at freestore@wlu.ca.

Recycling Program

We get it, recycling can be really difficult to understand. Rules vary from region to region and with China taking less contaminated recycling now, knowing how to properly recycle and what can and cannot be recycled it may feel like an uphill battle.

At Laurier, we offer commingled recycling, which means all recyclable materials are mixed together in the same bin, collected and then sorted at a separate location. This makes it significantly easier to dispose of your recyclable materials while still helping to save the environment. However, even with commingled recycling, there is still important things to consider and follow to prevent contamination when purchasing or disposing of items.