uOttawa's Muggy Mondays proudly serves Camino Hot Chocolate
Mainstream chocolate typically comes from cocoa plantations in developing countries where workers are exploited and earn a pittance. Many plantations further resort to child labour to provide competitive prices, exploiting those who are forced to work at a young age in order to support their families. I have heard that some children are “sold” to cocoa plantations by relatives, while others are told that the job provides adequate income. These children are subjected to dangerous work conditions that include prolonged exposure to pesticides without protective clothing; heavy, dangerous equipment, whose use violates international labour laws; and even physical abuse. Child labourers are also typically denied access to education, which then continues this cycle of poverty.

Camino chocolate comes from cocoa that is grown and harvested by small-scale family farmers in the South. Farmers who work their own land and are part of a co-operative in their regional area. These farmers have an opportunity to vote on key decisions and participate in the democratic process of being part of a co-operative. When the co-operative is certified fair trade, the farmers receive many benefits including a minimum floor price for their harvest, pre-harvest financing, access to training, and more.

Fair-trade chocolate ensures farmers receive reliable compensation that allows them to plan for the long-term future, as well as their cooperatives receive a social premium to invest in community infrastructure. That's why Muggy Mondays serves Camino Hot Chocolate every week. Sure we could go with typical hot chocolate... but there are all the reasons in the world not to. Camino products are available in most grocery and natural health food stores across Canada. Choosing Camino chocolate means farmers earn a fair price for their harvest and social premiums are contributed to the co-op allowing for the purchase of equipment or other resources. Switching to Camino is just one simple step towards a fair, healthy, sustainable future.

~ catherine - muggy mondays coordinator
student volunteers at the uOttawa zero waste dining hall
By this point in the school year, most of us know how awesome the all-you-can-eat cafeteria is. When you’re starving after cramming for the midterm in the library, being able to relax and re-energize there feels like heaven. The cafeteria can boast that it is Zero Waste with regards to trash, bottles, plastic, metal etc. However, there is one huge culprit of waste that most of us don’t even think about: food waste. While dining trays were eliminated to help reduce over consumption, our dining hall still turns out to be an enormous source of wasted food.

the amount of food tossed out in the dining hall amounts to 1735 meals a day

To help raise awareness about this issue, the Office of Campus Sustainability and Food Services took on a mission to measure the average amount of food that is thrown out each day. Over a week long period, the average total of food tossed in the compost bins at the caf was a whopping 1,735 food servings per day! That means that every day, around 1147 pounds of avoidable food is simply composted and every 8-month school year approximately 126 tons of perfectly good food is wasted. That’s about the equivalent of the weight of a full grown blue whale!

There are many reasons for this massive source of waste but ultimately a huge factor is that many people simply take too much food and can’t manage to consume all of it. It’s pretty crazy to think about the fact that our cafeteria ends up producing so much waste however this problem of excessive food waste is not unique to uOttawa. In fact, Canada wide, food waste per year is the equivalent of 1,200 sandwiches per person per year.

infographic about the amount of food wasted on campus

Food waste not only comes in the form of people taking too much food on their plates or in the grocery carts but also in the forms of rejection by supermarkets before it even reaches the produce aisles. In fact, 30% of North America’s fruits and vegetables are rejected by supermarkets each year because they aren’t considered attractive enough for consumers to buy. On a more local level it is interesting to know that a total of 40% of food produced in Canada is tossed away each year and $31 billion dollars’ worth of food is wasted in Canada each year. With growing movements of the 100-mile diet and eating local and organic, that stat is pretty shocking.

delicious sandwiches go in your stomach, not the waste bin

All these numbers boil down to one simple fact: our food waste in Canada and at our school is out of control. Ultimately food waste whether it’s from a buffet or a grocery store comes down to the fact that we think we need more food than we actually do. Everybody knows you’re not supposed to grocery shop when you’re hungry because your grocery cart seems to fill up with everything and anything. Too many of us however have hungry eyes and this leads to us having to throw out an excessive amount of food. If we were to choose to eat and buy food more responsibly, in a way that would lead to us not rejecting almost half the food that comes to us, it would lead to a more sustainable future. So next time you’re at the caf, be conscious about your choices and make decisions that reduce your own food waste. Slowly but surely we can make a difference together to turn the cafeteria into a true Zero Waste facility.

~ ava goerzen - guest blogger
Avocado farmers visit the uOttawa campus during Fair trade campus week
If we are all being honest, I think we can admit that the majority of us have heard of fair trade, have a vague notion of fair trade, but honestly have no idea what fair trade is actually all about.

The University of Ottawa was inaugurated as Canada's 7th FairTrade Campus in 2014, thanks largely to the many student volunteers and Food Service employees who pushed to get this designation. I won't go into what it means to be a Fairtrade campus, you can look up all the criteria online.

But I will share with you some interesting insight that I gained during Fair Trade Campus Week (FTCW). I was surprised to find out just how important fair trade is to the environmental movement.

Ben and Jerry's pins
So you may have already noticed that I keep jumping around the spelling of Fair Trade. This is not a mistake, seriously, it isn't. Fair trade is not the same as Fairtrade.
Fair trade is a concept about better prices, decent working conditions and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers. It’s about supporting the development of thriving farming and worker communities that have more control over their futures and protecting the environment in which they live and work.

Fairtrade is a brand. It is the organization that certifies that the products you purchase follow all the guidelines to ensure that fiar working conditions and equitable prices are paid.

And now you know...

Avocados farmer take question during Fair Trade Campus week

We were fortunate enough during FTCW to have some avocado farmers come and visit the campus to talk about their experience back home. Let me tell you, there is a lot more going on than meets the eye. Aside from the tremendous environmental considerations (which honestly, even I didn't know very much about), the farmers spoke about how they have created their coop to compete against large agro-conglomerates in a way that supports their community.

They showed us examples of how they are working to create fair working conditions for their people and how they are giving back within their community. They spoke about medicines they were able to buy for older workers, and they spoke about not using inorganic pesticides for the health of their workers and for the health of the land.

One really nice story they spoke about involved how women in their community were feeling marginalized because the heavy work done by the males tended to exclude them from participating. So, with true grit, many women within the group created an apiary to harvest honey and to ensure the pollination of their crops. They are now an integral part of the cooperatives operations.

Free Ben and Jerry's ice cream served at uOttawa
The week wasn't only about getting educated about Fair Trade, there was also a lot of fun to be had. Muggy Mondays was out in full force pedaling Fairtrade caffeine to the masses, and we had a special ice cream day thanks to Ben and Jerry's (yeah that's right, their ice cream tastes awesome and is jammed full of FairTrade ingredients)!

Actually, there were a lot of suppliers that sent us products to share and display.

As always, Kicking Horse had our backs for amazing coffee at Muggy Mondays, and Camino donated tonnes of chocolate for sharing (mmmmmmhhhh).

This year, Just Us Coffee also sent us some coffee that we will be using at the Friel-good Fridays events we have set up in the Friel Reisdence.

We also got a healthy dose of Four O'clock teas which we are also using at the Muggy Mondays table.

And Ethical Bean sent us a bunch of coupons that we have been distributing in the hopes of encouraging people to buy more fair trade products.

And what's to come...

Well there were a couple of other suppliers who sent us some items that we have special plans for.
Fair World Sports sent us some some sports balls which we displayed during FTCW but we have also planned a special photo shoot with the Gee-gees to highlight the importnace of "Fiar Play". You know, the idea that kids should be playing with soccer balls, not making them in slave condition in some factory.

We also received a bunch of coffee pods from One Coffee. We are hoping to use these pods to entice single coffee users on campus to switch to Fair Trade. They have a pretty delicious product so I think it will be an easy proposition.

So if you are interested in knowing more about Fair Trade, you are in luck because Fairtrade Canada is headquartered in Ottawa. There are also a bunch of great groups in the City (like Fair Trade Ottawa Equitable) and on campus (like Engineers Without Borders) who can help out.

Are you anxious about the new school year? Muggy Mondays has just the thing to make your Monday (and Wednesday) mornings a little bit better!

Muggy Mondays offers FREE fair trade coffee, tea, and hot chocolate to anyone who brings a reusable mug. In fact, we gave out 2,289 cups last year! Believe me when I say tremendous effort and love goes into each and every cup of coffee, tea, and hot chocolate we serve. Allow me to pass along just a snapshot of the passion that goes into each mug:


Muggy Monday volunteers are small in number, but big in heart. Most of our volunteers don't even drink coffee, seriously like only a quarter of them do, but they still arrive at 7:30am to prepare everything – and they do it with a smile! Their positive attitude will cheer you up even on the darkest and coldest mornings! Interested in volunteering? E-mail us at muggymondaysclub@gmail.com


All good coffee begins with the beans! Kicking Horse Coffee roasts only the best shade-grown, organic coffee, maybe better than anyone else in Canada. Using this coffee ensures healthy, balanced ecosystems that promote environmental sustainability. Shade-grown coffee grows under a light canopy of varied vegetation at high altitudes that create a more resilient ecosystem. Organic farmers avoid pollutants, pesticides, and herbicides that otherwise contaminate soil and water. Such practices attract more birds and wildlife that assist in the cross-pollination of coffee beans and seeds, which then enhances plate distribution and diversity.

Coffee is the largest cash crop and second largest traded commodity in the world! Severe market fluctuations often cause suffering to coffee farmers, who receive little financial return for their labour-intensive crops. Kicking Horse has adopted a fair trade model that guarantees a fair price for coffee. Securing a fairer wage provides economic stability and higher living standards for farmers, as well as improves their access to loans, technical assistance, and educational opportunities. Supporting Kicking Horse encourages environmental and social sustainability!


Camino is another Canadian company that sells fair-trade and organic products. It was the first registered importer of Fairtrade Certified cocoa and sugar in North America! Their ingredients are sourced from co-operatives of family farmers in Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Indonesia, Madagascar, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Sri Lanka. These direct and close relationships ensure transparency, respect, and fairness throughout the supply chain. Camino products therefore guarantee fair prices to family farmers, which assist in their long-term planning and pre-harvest financing. Premiums also are paid to cooperatives in order to improve the social conditions in their communities. Join the path – or el camino! Together we are building a fair, healthy, and sustainable future.

Are you starting to see a pattern here? We want you to get only the best products and we want you to be able to enjoy them while knowing that the people who produce them for you are happy, healthy, and being treated failry.

So drop by the second floor of the FSS building between 8:00 and 12:00 on Monday mornings in order to get your cup of fair-trade coffee, tea, or hot chocolate! Or, this year, find us in the lobby of Fauteux between 8:00 and 10:00 on Wednesday mornings!

~ catherine - muggy mondays coordinator

You might not know this but when you decide to go bottled water free, you get a lot of criticism from big corporations. More specifically, bottled water companies, who by the way love to send tonnes of letters about why you need to reconsider your decision. So at uOttawa we get lots of these letters. Some nice, some bad, some threatening, some completely incomprehensible.

I thought I would let everyone see what it is like when we get one of these letters and how I like to handle them. I personally believe that water should never be denied to people how need it. I is essential to our lives and to our way of life. And don't get me wrong, I do believe that there is a time and place for bottled water and that it does have some very important and very critical applications. I understand big corporations need to eek out a living as well, but sometimes you have to draw a line.

As a recovering science student, one of the things I really hate is when people toss a study at you and say something like "Science says so". In this case, the Berman and Johnson study from Vermont was used as a tool to say "this is why people shouldn't bottled water free". I often think that people don't even read these studies before they are sent out... luckily I did.


Hello Mr. So and So
Thank you for taking an interest in our bottled water ban. For the past 5-years the University of Ottawa has been a bottled water free campus. This action was greatly celebrated in our community as it was an opportunity for the Student Federation and the University of Ottawa to come together on a common issue.

The purpose of our ban was not really to reduce plastic waste on campus, as you eluded to in your letter. Although we have noted a dramatic reduction in waste in recent years, the purpose of our ban was to increase the accessibility of water on campus. As you may know, bottled water is extremely expensive when compared to the price paid at the tap.

I have reviewed the study provided to us in your email. I find it to be a very well organized study with some very interesting statistics. The focus on waste and calorie intake were certainly noted. However, there are a lot of problems that are actually acknowledged in the study that would lead me to not take what is being said to heart or to try to say that this study is representative of any other institution. The statement in the Discussion section of the study indicating that “no causalities can be drawn between the removal of bottled water and the increase in unhealthy beverage consumption or in calorie and added sugar consumption” is particularly interesting.

Some of the concerning parts of the study include the fact that;
  • The study is a very limited time frame and the authors admit that they do not know if there was already a trend towards increasing consumption in sugary drinks prior to the bottled water ban. The paper refers to literature research that indicates that the consumption of sugary beverages has already been increasing for several decades.
  • The study monitors the impacts of bottled drinks immediately after a bottled water ban, which is likely an extremely confusing time. The authors admit that over time there is reason to believe that more people would habituate to carrying a reusable bottle and thus drive down the numbers of bottles purchased. A follow-up study is needed to ensure that this is not simply a flash in the pan.
  • The authors outline the fact that the sample size is very small and that this could greatly distort the numbers. There is also no data relating to what is happening in these locations. For instance, were their special 'sales' on other products during that time or were all the locations kept consistent in terms of advertising and product selection.
  • The authors indicate that they are using shipping data which could lead to an over estimation of calories consumed and inconsistencies in their numbers.

At our institution, we have taken some of the measures mentioned in the study to increase reusable water bottle use. We provide a free reusable bottles during welcome week to every student, we distribute free reusable bottles all year long at various locations, and we participate in events to raise awareness about bottled water.

Aside from what is mention in the study, there are other dimensions of sustainability that should be considered.

On environmental issues….
Plastic bottles are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the environmental impacts of bottled water. The shipping of these bottles require a significant consumption of fuel. Seeing as water is already piped to the campus, it is redundant and wasteful to drive large trucks full of water to and from campus.

Vending machines, which keep the bottled water cold, represent a substantive electricity cost to our campus and especially during hot summer days, they represent a burden as we need to further cool spaces to deal with the heat generated by these machines. Ultimately this increases our carbon footprint.

There are of course other issues related to where the water for these bottles of water are procured, but I won’t go into any of that.

On accessibility and water quality….
Selling bottled water in stores means that you only purchase the beverage when retail locations are open. Not every location on campus is serviced by vending machines, and so focusing on water fountains is a key strategy for our institution. We currently have 164 water fountains on campus located in strategic areas to ensure that water is always available, they don't close down in the evenings and on weekends.

A recent article from the CBC noted that Ottawa has some of the cleanest drinking water in Canada, if not the entire world. (You can check out that article right here) This water is the very water that nourishes our fountains. The water in the City of Ottawa is tested dozens of times a day for a wide variety of contaminants and harmful substances.

Fear not, even though we do not sell bottled water on campus, there are two convenience stores located within a 2 minute walk of the campus that sell bottled water so if students truly do want bottled water, it is never more than a quick walk away.

uottawa is a Bottled Water Free Campus with fountains located every whereOn the cost to students….
I did a quick look online look for ******** Water products and the most economic price I could find was $0.24 for a litre of water (at Walmart for a pack of 24 bottles). At nearby convenience stores, the cheapest price I could find was $1.25 a litre and vending machines off campus price water at about $3 to $4 per litre. As an institution, we pay about $3.20 for 1000 litres of water, or $0.0032 per litre of tap water. Although I should of course mention that students don’t actually pay anything for this water because it is free from the fountain.

If students were to consume a litre of bottled water a day, it could run them north of $500 a year. This cost is prohibitive to many students who do not have the means to afford this option and, quite frankly, the money could be spent on other things such as textbooks, clothing, or food.

I do share your concern about the idea that students may be consuming too many sugar filled beverages. I am happy to share with you the fact that the University of Ottawa has hired a dedicated dietitian to help guide healthy food choices on campus. We hope to educate our students and empower them to make better food choices not only with the beverages they consume but also with the other food choices they make.

Just as a quick aside, I googled the other beverage products that your company offers in Canada. I couldn’t help but notice that there were very few low sugar options available other than coffee, tea, and milk. I did however notice a glut of high sugar products...
I got a little belligerent at this part so how about I just edit it out...
Perhaps if your company could offer some more affordable, low sugar options, we would be happy to sell them on campus.

I am happy to meet in person and discuss further. I would also be happy to show you around the campus and tour our world class water infrastructure.

~ jON - campus sustainability manager