SP0137: Sustainability and Waste Education

Status: COMPLETED Jan 2015 - December 2015

The “Sustainability & Waste Education Campaign” organizes McGill students to work as educators across all McGill Residence cafeterias. It implements organic waste collection programs in all of the MORE houses, and focuses on building the culture of composting at McGill, making the issue of waste management more relevant to all students at McGill.

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Last year, a team from McGill’s sustainability community led by Lou-Anne Daoust-Filiatraut completed the first “Greenhouse Gas Audit” of McGill’s Cafeterias. Since then, there have been many steps in actualizing the project’s results & suggestions - including streamlining wasteful kitchen practices, engaging kitchen staff in conversations on sustainability, and most recently, updating the infrastructure of cafeterias to reflect sustainable improvements.

In an effort to limit greenhouse gas emissions, McGill residences and cafeterias are taking actions to meet the provincially mandated 60% organic waste diversion rate. New eco-stations were installed in the four main dining halls over summer 2014, and the collection of organic waste in residences has been expanded to include post-consumer material in addition to pre-consumer compostable kitchen waste. The “Sustainability & Waste Education Campaign” organizes McGill students to work as educators across all McGill Residence cafeterias during the first 3 weeks of school, and potentially throughout the year. Critical to the success of this new compost endeavor is this complementary educational component - teaching students and diners how to responsibly manage their food waste, to emphasize the importance of composting & recycling, and to do so in an approachable and friendly manner.  A tremendous amount of effort has led to this eco-station organization – from the 401 Student Research Group that focused on the future of compost at McGill, from Compost Montreal, McGill’s kitchen staff, and dedicated students and professors, and it is for all of these key players that it is so imperative to complete the project with an educational and communicative component that ensures it’s success.

In addition to the eco-stations that will be present in the four cafeterias, an organic waste collection program has been implemented for apartment-style residences and MORE houses, and a voluntary compost bucket program will be available for dorm-style Residences. Not all students currently have access to composting bins, which negatively impacts waste sorting behaviors and participation rates. Students living in all Residences will be able to sign up for the complementary program mid-September, and will be asked to sign a simple contract stating that they are responsible for emptying their bin into common compost spots.  Compost pick-ups are organized and funded by SHHS.

In addition to the remaining funding from the greenhouse gas audit completed last year, funds given to this SPF project support more educational teams to achieve their goals

This project aims to provide a strong communicative and educational component to the impressive work already completed by McGill students, and to further institutionalize this progress. Giving educational support to these initiatives will make them more likely to succeed in the long-term, and will make the issue of waste management more relevant for all students at McGill.

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Compost Montreal, Student Housing and Hospitality Services (SHHS)

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john.lindsay2 [at] mail.mcgill.ca (John Lindsay)

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