Seedlings growing in planting containers

Sometimes it is all too easy to look at the deluge of environmental bad news and feel helpless in the face of the impending doom. Rising sea levels, species in decline, toxic air floating over toxic lakes. Current events fuel distopian nightmares of a future that has droughts on top of floods, ice storms on top of heat waves, and an environment turned topsy-turvy.

But we have to remember that the future is not written in stone. For every environmental woe there is an environmental win. As you read these words, there are cities banning plastic bags, countries signing into law aggressive emissions standards, and globally, the rate of growth for renewable energy is outpacing fossil energy.

This summer our office decided that we could do something more to improve the campus footprint and so we launched an agricultural demonstration project. This is not new idea. McGill and Ryerson are two institutions that already grow food on campus and reap the benefits.

A little known fact; growing food is one of the most energy intensive, water guzzling things that humans do. It is a hard reality to swallow.because we all need food and no one wants to criticize the work of farmers. But, if we want to take a chunk out of that nasty apocalyptic future, we need to start finding better ways of growing and sourcing our food.

The preliminary work for the Urban Garden, that's what we are calling our little project, has already been completed. In the past month we have;
  • Collected used buckets from the cafeteria and other recycled materials
  • Created self watering containers for the plants
  • Grew seeds and purchased cuttings for the garden
  • Planted and started a watering timetable
Now our volunteers are taking care of the plants and getting more buckets. We are hoping to figure out exactly what kind and how much food we can grow on campus. The potential benefits for the environment are huge. The reduction in transportation will reduce the amount of CO2 generated and the food will not have any pesticides sprayed on it so fewer chemicals in the environment,

There are social benefits too. Everyone knows where their food comes from and everyone gets the opportunity to learn a little more about how farming works. Not to mention, the gardens are being run by a solid group of volunteers, so we can add socializing and community building to the list.

There are other volunteer programs supporting the Urban Garden, the learning gardens and wild pollinator projects for example. But the concept that underlines all of this is the notion that in the face of environmental apathy, there is an overwhelming amount of hope and optimism.

A volunteer carries buckets to be reused as planters

A proud volunteer fills a wheel barrel with containers filled with soil

Volunteers plant seedlings in reused buckets

A garden is just one small piece of the puzzle and our environmental salvation will take a lot more than some local tomatoes. But if you will permit me a little metaphor, the seeds have been planted and the shoots are starting to take off. It's time to think about the small thing that you can do which will have a lasting impact.

~jON - campus sustainability manager
radishes picked from the garden
Community Shared Agriculture (CSA)
Have you ever heard of it? The concept is simple, you give a farmer some money and they grow food on your behalf. Every week you get a box full of fruits and vegetables and the farmers get paid for their hard work. Quid pro quo.

This past semester an intern student from France joined our office and worked on a project designed to increase community agriculture on campus. Coraline's idea was to get a CSA started on campus and help build a more sustainable food system. Here's the thought process;
  1. People on campus need more access to locally grown food. Partnering with a local farm that has the capacity to deliver food to uOttawa greatly increases the chances that the community will take advantage of it.
  2. Access is one of the greatest challenges people face when trying to make healthy food choices. The easier it is to get your food, the more of it you will eat. Bringing healthy foods right to the campus will make it easier for more people to obtain that food.
  3. You need to be the change you want to see in society. If you want to have a more local food in society you need to create more opportunities for our farmers to sell to a local market.
So here is how the program works. We partnered with the farm, "Ferme aux pleinessaveurs", to deliver baskets to the campus every week. Community members have signed up for the boxes, which you can be received on a weekly or biweekly basis.

There are 2 possible box sizes, large and small, with an assortment of fruits and vegetables in each one. The boxes are delivered to the Office of Campus Sustainability where you can pick your box and trade some of the items you might not want. Our lovely partners provide you with a weekly reminder email accompanied by a feature recipe for the week. 

The program launch was targeted at employees and professors. As of right now, anyone in the campus community who wants them, even the surrounding community, can sign up and get their box the following week. You can sign up for a basket or get mote information about the programs by clicking here.

The beauty of this program is that you don't have to do anything except get excited about your food basket. As the program matures, we are hoping to get a box going in the winter time as well. Already, during the fall season, our farmers are creating salsa and jams for their baskets.

If you are interested in joining the CSA, you can also contact Jon Rausseo for more details about how the whole programs works. Tomorrow is the first shipment to our office... excitement, happiness, good food and more news to come!

~jON - campus sustainability manager
Dump and Run 2015 at uOttawa
J’ai enfin terminé ma troisième année d’étude collégiale à La Cité dans le programme de Technologie de l’environnement. Le 1er mai 2015 était le jour où j’ai commencé mon stage à l’Université d’Ottawa et c’est à ce moment où j’ai pu faire la mise en œuvre de certains apprentissages de mon parcours scolaire.

Jamais je n’aurais cru qu’une institution pouvait aller aussi loin, entre autre au niveau des 3R : Réduire, Réutiliser, Recycler. La barre est haute pour les nouveaux défis de l’Université d’Ottawa, par exemple, il voudrait atteindre zéro déchets d’ici 2020!!!

Et c’est possible! En ce moment ils réacheminent plus de 60 % de leurs déchets. C’est en ayant implanté des projets comme le Déposer et Dégager ainsi que la gratuiterie qu’ils sont en mesure de dévier plusieurs tonnes d’objet des sites d’enfouissement. C’est objets sont des dons des étudiants mais aussi de la communauté.

J’aimerais ajouter un petit mot de remerciement aux bénévoles et les féliciter de leur travail puisque sans eux, ces projets ne seraient pas où ils en sont.

~ eve sabourin - stagaire, bureau du développement durable

Dump and Run 2015 at uOttawa

Imaginez la joie et le sourire de la personne …

Quelques semaines après la remise de votre chambre, le Bureau du développement durable vient de rassembler tout ce que vous avez donné directement ou indirectement. Triés, lavés et rangés à la gratuiterie, vos dons seront à la disposition de ceux qui en ont besoin.
Oui, un don n’est jamais petit ! Il a toujours sa valeur.

En le sachant ou pas vous avez contribué à la satisfaction d’un besoin de quelqu’un. Là où vous êtes maintenant, imaginez la joie  et le sourire de la personne qui  vient de prendre en main l’habit, le livre, ustensile, matériel de cuisine et autre chose que vous avez mis à sa disposition.
Oui, un don n’est jamais petit ! Il a toujours sa valeur.

Sachez que le sourire du receveur procure la joie au donneur. Laissez s’épanouir votre coeur et volonté de donner en mettant à la disposition du Bureau de développement durable tous ces articles que vous n’utilisez pas, au lieu de remplir les poubelles qui ne sont jamais assouvies et qui ne vous diront jamais Merci !
Et pourtant, la personne qui vient de recevoir votre vous dit Merci...

 ~ nathalie kabirori- stagaire, bureau du développement durable

Tips for riding your bike at uOttawa

There are many perks to biking to campus. Aside from the obvious health and environmental benefits of biking, the University of Ottawa has a bunch services to help with your commute. Here are a few things every campus biker should know about:

Bike Parking  

One of my favorite things about biking to campus is how affordable it is. No need to pay for a parking pass, just roll in and find a bike rack. The University is committed to improving bike amenities on campus namely by providing more racks. If you are having a hard time finding a rack, you can contact to put in a request for a new rack.

Biking doesn’t have to happen only when it’s nice out since there are a number of all-season bike racks around. Not keen on leaving your bike outside to face the harsh elements? Not a problem. Protected and indoor parking is available for your wheels (most of which are free but require a deposit).

Bike Repair Stations

Flat tires happen, we’ve all been there and they are a pain but luckily there are bike service stations spread out on campus to help you out. There are three stations on the main campus (between ART and SMD, in front of LMX and Roger Guidon).

Bike Coop 

Are you having issues with your bike? Visit the Bike Coop for a helping hand! The bike coop is over at the Lees campus, they have all the tools and parts you will need to fix up your vehicle. But wait, there’s more! Not only are their great staff there to help you but they also host a bunch of great workshops and events throughout the year. Check it out!

~ alice - guest blogger

Ils y a plusieurs avantages lorsque vous choisissez de prendre votre vélo pour vous déplacer sur le campus. En plus des avantages pour votre santé et l’environnement, l’Université d’Ottawa a plusieurs programmes en place pour faciliter vos déplacements. Voici quelques trucs que tous les cyclistes devraient garder en tête :


Ce que j’aime
bien c’est que prendre mon vélo ne me coûte pas cher. Pas besoin de payer une passe de stationnement, j’ai juste besoin de pédaler et trouver un porte-vélo. L’Université cherche toujours à améliorer l’accessibilité pour les cyclistes. Ceci est fait en partie en augmentant le nombre de porte-vélo sur le campus. Si vous avez de la difficulté à vous trouver une place, vous pouvez faire une demande pour en faire installer un.

De plus, certains des porte-vélos sont tous-saisons. Ceci veut dire que vos déplacements en vélo n’ont pas besoin d’être limité à l’été. Vous ne voulez pas laisser que votre vélo ait à faire face au climat Canadien? Pas de problème! Il y a des espaces protégés et sous-surveillance pour votre bicyclette (pour la plus part gratuit avec un dépôt).

Stations de réparations 

Les pneus à plats arrivent à tout le monde de temps en temps. Heureusement il y a des stations de réparations répartis sur le campus pour vous aider. Il y a trois stations sur le campus principal (entre ART et SMD, devant LMX et Roger Guidon).

Coop de vélo 

Vous avez de la difficulté avec votre vélo ou avez besoin de remplacer un morceau? Venez rendre visite à la Coop de vélo! La coop est situé sur le campus Lees et ils ont tous les morceaux et outils dont vous aurez besoin pour réparer votre vélo. Mais attendez, ce n’est pas tout. Non seulement leur merveilleuse équipe est présente pour vous aider mais ils organisent plusieurs évènements pendant l’année pour connecter la communauté des mordus de vélo. Aller y faire un tour!

~ alice - blogueur invité