Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Making of Muggy Mondays

cup of coffee near a computer

So you have an uncontrollable urge to drink coffee but you don't want to pay for it?
Fear not dear friends, Muggy Mondays has you covered, no questions asked.

Of course you are all familiar with the quirky characters of Muggy Mondays who bring you free coffee every Monday morning if you present a reusable coffee mug. And if you aren't familiar, drop by the FSS building on the second floor next Monday and we will remedy that problem for you.

But one of the things that many people don't realize is the tremendous amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to get that coffee into your hands, let alone the care and attention that goes into making that coffee for you. Allow me to shed some light on the Making of Muggy Mondays!

A good cup of coffee starts with the beans. For the past few years, Muggy Mondays has been using Detour Coffee procured from the good people at Café Alt. Recently, there was a switch over to Kicking Horse who had been lending some sponsoring power. Either way, great coffee for your drinking pleasure.

The next thing is training. All the staff at Muggy Mondays get some good on-the-job training and some special training sessions during the year. Muggy Mondays volunteers get a crash course in what makes for a good cup of coffee and what makes for an amazing cup of coffee.

Quite a few high quality machines are used to bring you some super duper coffee. They are indeed some very nice and nifty coffee machines, with carbon filters and all the bells and whistles. There are some thermoses to keep all that delicious coffee warm. We even have a grinder to make sure you get the freshest experience.

No seriously. There are healthy helpings of love mixed into almost every mug of coffee. In fact, half of the Muggy Mondays volunteers don't even drink coffee. They do it for the experience, for the friendships, and for the planet.

So next time you grab a cup of coffee from the Muggy Mondays table, don't forget about all the great work the volunteers are doing to get you the best cup of free coffee you'll ever have.

 ~jON - campus sustainability manager

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Green Bucket List

So it looks like you landed yourself here at the University of Ottawa. Being new to the space you have probably decided you want to do everything you can to really EXPERIENCE life that Ottawa has to offer. And of course you have a more than noticeable love for the planet. So here is a list of the things that you probably want to cross off your bucket list on campus, in Ottawa, even in the greater National Capital Region.


Food (groceries):

Start your day with a fresh with an organic fair-trade coffee @

Grab a bite to eat @

 ~ audrey - outreach and volunteer coordinator

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

5 choses à ne pas mettre dans votre valise pour l’Université

Bacs à glaçons

Ça peut sembler un peu contre-intuitif de vous dire quoi ne pas amener. Et si cela vous semble particulièrement bizarre, c’est que vous ne connaissez pas encore la Gratuiterie.

Faisons ça bref si vous ne connaissez pas encore la Gratuiterie. Chaque année, le Bureau du développement durable rassemble tous les trucs que les élèves laissent derrière eux dans les résidences. Nous nettoyons, réparons, et trions tous ces objets pour les remettre entre les mains d’autres étudiants par l’entremise de cette petite boutique géniale appelée la Gratuiterie. Et cette dernière porte parfaitement son nom, car tout y est... gratuit. Nous faisons cela car nous aspirons à la réduction des déchets sur le campus et à la conservation de ressources précieuses.

Maintenant que vous connaissez toute l'histoire, voici le top 5 de ce que nous recevons le plus à la Gratuiterie, et qu’il est donc inutile pour vous d’acheter.

Des cartables!
Faites juste ne plus jamais en acheter, parce que nous avons des centaines de classeurs qui vous attendent. Dans un magasin, ils vous coûteraient environ 5 $, ce qui serait un gaspillage total de votre argent. Je vous le jure, si vous voulez un cartable, 5 cartables, 10 cartables.... nous avons tout ce qu’il vous faut.

Vous pourriez passer à la Gratuiterie au début de l’année et prendre assez de chandails pour ne pas porter le même de toute la session. Nous avons des boîtes et des boîtes de t-shirts dans tous les styles imaginables connu de l'humanité (et d'autres pas encore connus).

Bacs à glaçons 
Je ne comprends toujours pas le fait que nous avons besoin de bacs à glaçons dans un pays où il fait moins de zéro degré pendant une bonne partie de l’année. Tout de même, à chaque année, des centaines de bacs à glaçons trouvent le chemin de la Gratuiterie. Plutôt que de vous acheter un, passez en prendre quelques-uns et vous serez assuré de rester frais. Nous avons des étagères pleines de bacs à glaçons, et même de drôles de trouvailles (mon préféré étant bien sûr cet étonnant bac rétro d’envahisseurs de l'espace!)

Foulards et écharpes
Nous avons tant de foulards que j'ai pensé les envoyer au pôle Sud pour équiper tous les pingouins  d’un élégant foulard coloré. Rappelez-vous que votre mère pèterait une crise si vous quittiez les résidences sans foulards : prenez-en un à la Gratuiterie.

Gobelets en plastique 
Tout d'abord, voulez-vous vraiment boire dans un gobelet en plastique? Apparemment que c’est maintenant toxique !! Cela dit, si vous en voulez quand même un, on va vous en donnez deux (il faut vraiment qu’on se débarrasse de ces horreurs). Bref, peu importe ce que vous faites, n’achetez pas une tasse de plastique !

 ~jON - gestionnaire du développement durable

Monday, August 25, 2014

5 Things You Shouldn't Pack on Your Way to uOttawa

ice cube tray of space invaders

I know this sounds a little counter-intuitive.... you know, make sure you don't pack for your trip back to university. But if this sounds a little out of the box, then it's clear you don't know about the Free Store.

Let's make this brief in case you do know about the Free Store. Every year the Office of Campus Sustainability collects all the stuff that students leave behind on their way out the door for the summer. We clean it, fix it, sort it, whatever it.... and get it back into the hands of students via this nifty little shop called the Free Store. And so the Free Store is perfectly named as it is a store where everything is free. We do this because we are reducing waste on campus and conserving precious resources.

Now that you know the whole story, here is a quick list of the top five things that we get so much of that there is no point for you to bring your own to campus this year.

Don't do it man, just don't do it. We have hundreds of binders waiting for you. They cost like $5 bucks if you want to buy them in a retail store - a complete waste of good money. I promise if you want a binder, 5 binders, 10 binders, infinity binders.... we can work something out for you.

I think that you could walk into the Free Store at the start of the year and get enough t-shirts that you could spend your entire semester never wearing the same t-shirt twice. We have boxes upon boxes of t-shirts in every conceivable style known to humanity (and some not known to humanity).

Ice Cube Trays
I will never understand the fact that we need ice cube trays in a country that spends a good half of the year in sub-zero temperature. But there you have it, hundreds of ice cube trays find their way to the Free Store every year. This year, chill and just grab some trays from the Free Store. We have shelves full of ice cube trays , and yes even specialty trays (my fave is of course this amazing retro space invaders tray!)

We actually have so many scarves that I have been thinking about sending them to the South Pole to outfit each and every penguin with a stylish, colourful scarf. I know your parents would have a fit if you left home without your scarf... tell them the Free Store's got you covered.

Plastic Cups
First of all, what are you doing drinking out of a plastic cup? That stuff's toxic maybe! That being said, if you do want one, drop by and we'll give you two (seriously, we need to get rid of these abominations). Whatever you do, don't buy your own plastic cup, they will be the end of all things.

 ~jON - campus sustainability manager

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What You Need To Know About Biofuels

a watering can gives water to glowing plants

In case you missed it, this past Sunday (August 10th) was International Biodiesel day, in honour of this momentous occasion I thought I would dive into the pros and cons of this alternative fuel source.

Fossil fuels (such as natural gas, coal and petroleum) are pouches of organic matter which have been pressurized and decomposed over long periods of time. In contrast, biofuels are made from live organic matter (ranging from canola, maize, sunflowers, animal fats and soy). Thus they provide a more sustainable alternative to the material depletion associated with traditional fossil fuels while performing in many of the same ways.

As the cost for fossil fuels continue to rise, part of the appeal of alternative fuels sources is their potentially low production cost. We should also consider the environmental impact of growing crops for fuels, CO2 (of of the greenhouse gases released through the combustion of fuel) is taken up by the crops. In other words, biofuels can provide a carbon neutral solution to help reduce the quantity of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Great! So why have we not made a complete switch from fossil fuels to biofuels?

Biofuels are far from perfect and their implementation is met with resistance due to several factors such as the high cost of changing traditional fuel infrastructure. Additionally, the energy output of biofuels tends to be lower than that of fossil fuels which means more will need to be consumed for the same level of energy to be attained. There is also a growing concern that the conversion of farmlands from food production to fuel production could lead to an increase in food prices. An increase in demand for biofuels could also lead to the conversion of natural spaces to agricultural land and thus a subsequent loss of biodiversity.

Biofuels have made large strides in recent years and as these continue to progress, we can expect more efficient techniques for production and higher grade fuels. For example, the next generation of biofuels use algae, grown in holding tanks, eliminating the need for large monoculture crops and reducing the quantity of water needed to sustain said crops.

Here at uOttawa, there are several groups that work on improving biofuels to make them more efficient and sustainable. Notably, prof Marc Dubé, who is looking at waste products and animal fats as an alternative to traditional biofuels. If you go over to La Maison, you can even buy soap made from the grease produced when making fries (no you won’t smell like poutine after using it but I am sure that there are ways to make that happen if you want).

Although it would be nice to see a change from our current fuel based society to a society dependent on varied and sustainable energy sources, biofuels provide a good starting point for reducing greenhouse gas emission and improving air quality. Let us know what do you think, do the pros outweigh the cons?

~ alice - outreach and engagement coordinator