New Recycling Coordinator

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The University of Ottawa has a new Recycling Coordinator, Julie Cook, and she has some tips about her first living waste free challenge.

Bonjour tout le monde/Hey Everyone!
My name is Julie Cook and I’ll be taking over for the amazing Brigitte Morin as Recycling Coordinator on campus for the next year while she is on maternity leave. It is an absolute honour. I’ve had the good fortune of working alongside Brigitte for a few weeks so she could teach me the ropes of this very important position.

One of the coolest things I’ve done so far is to take the Pledge to Live Waste-Free for the entire eight weeks of RecycleMania. For anyone who doesn’t already know, RecycleMania is an international competition among over 600 universities and colleges in the world that compete to produce the least amount of waste and the most amount of recyclables per capita. The University of Ottawa has been the top university in Canada for the past four years, and we’re aiming to make it five! RecycleMania this year runs from February 3 to March 30th. We could really use some more volunteers for some of the awesome initiatives we have planned, so if you’re interested please email me!

So back to this Pledge to Live Waste-Free thing. The idea is that any student or staff can commit to living waste-free for as little as one week to as much as the entire duration of the campaign. Basically you commit to not consuming anything that will end up in a landfill. It’s also a competition in the sense that you send us a blog about your experience by the end of March, and if it’s super awesome you could win a gift certificate to Market Organics. Again, email me if interested!

So today marks the end of Week One of living waste-free and my general thought is: ‘Holy Rethinking My Consumption Habits, Batman!’ It’s crazy how many things I threw out before without a conscious thought of where they would end up.

So for anyone interested in pledging to live waste-free, or who has already taken the pledge, here are a few tips to get you through it:

  1. Think ahead of time about the items that you normally consume that will end up in a landfill, and find alternatives. For me this meant hunting for things like biodegradable dental floss (which I found at Herb and Spice on Bank St).
  2. Beware of ninja wrapping. That is, you might purchase an item that is covered in paper and think ‘oh yeah that is totally recyclable’, and then you get home and GAH! there is some sort of hybrid material underneath that is not recyclable. Not that that happened to me or anything….
  3. Bring a reusable container(s) wherever you go. Yes, your fellow restaurant patrons might think you’re a bit wacko when you not-so-discreetly take the leftover fruit peelings and coffee creamers from your plate and put them into a container and then into your bag, but then they also might start asking questions, which leads to a conversation about what you’re doing…you see where I’m going with this…
  4. Tell people what you’re doing! Just living the waste-free pledge is a testament in and of itself but take every opportunity to tell people about what you’re doing. There is no way of measuring this, but I think we underestimate the impact our actions have on others.
  5. Buy in bulk. This reduces your consumption level overall and definitely helps with the ninja wrapping problem.
  6. Limit eating out. When you eat out you have much less control over the products you’re consuming because you’re depending on the consumption habits of Ottawa-area restaurants. Try making more food from scratch. It ends up being healthier and cheaper in the end, too.
  7. If you want to know whether or not something is recyclable or not, ask us. There are relatively few things that are not recyclable, so before you throw an item into your ‘Box of Shame’ (any items that you consumed during your pledge that will end up in a landfill), make sure it’s actually waste!

So I’m going to continue on with my Waste-Free Pledge and check in later on. So excited to work together with you all this year, both on RecycleMania 2013, and all of the other cool stuff that will bring us even closer to a zero-waste campus.


~ julie - recycling coordinator
photo credit - jonathan rausseo

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