ASB uOttawa: Alternate Ending

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A group of students poses in front of a recycling bin

Every day, an untold amount of garbage makes it to the landfill in Ottawa. And every day, hundreds of people in need go without many of the very items that are filling those Ottawa landfills. Sometimes when I think about the whole thing it seems like a cruel joke, an utter disaster of resource management.
But not every day is like this...

This past February, the Office of Campus Sustainability teamed up the the Centre for Global and Community Engagement for an Alternative Student Break placement. Seven volunteers came into our offices and set about the task of making sure that overflowing landfills and people in need were a thing of the past. They decided to rewrite the ending of what happens to clothes, household goods, and electronics here in the City of Ottawa.

Essentially, the volunteer group spent the week learning about sustainability issues, especially things related to waste management. Then the volunteers started creating inventories and calling up every local charity they could find to ask about what they really needed to help make a difference. There were even a couple of face to face interviews and visits to donation facilities.

The result of their week-long recycling adventure is a comprehensive list of what charities really need in the City of Ottawa. Alone this doesn't sound like very much, but add the overflowing storage rooms of the Free Store and you've got a recipe for sustainability.

Using the materials in the Free Store, the students matched charities in need with items we could donate. The very last thing that the volunteers were asked to do before the end of the programs was to create care packages for some of the charities. Well, this past week those packages were delivered to some groups in need.

Thanks again to the volunteers of the Alternative Student Break. Maybe you didn't solve all of the world's problems, but because of you the world is a little bit cleaner and a whole lot of families can go to sleep warmer tonight. This is the kind of alternate ending that our world needs more of.


~ jon - campus sustainability manager
photo credit - jonathan rausseo


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