C/O Abbie Little

A week of sustainability focused events from the MSU

Last week, the McMaster Students Union held an online event series to encourage students to pay more attention to and recognize sustainability issues. From Oct. 25 to 30, McMaster Earth Week was a week of various sustainability-themed activities. 

This event was hosted by the MSU, but involved other campus and community organizations such as Nature at McMaster, the Student Sustainability Ambassadors Program, McMaster Veggie Club, McMaster Academic Sustainability Programs Office and Trees for Hamilton

Starting off the week, McMaster Veggie Club ran a meatless Monday event on their Instagram page. The club said meatless Monday is an event series that they will be hosting once a month. For the event, a representative from McMaster Veggie Club shared a meatless recipe via their Instagram story. This week, the recipe was a meatless chilli. 

On Tuesday, the MSU hosted a virtual tree planting event. This event was in collaboration with the SUSTAIN 3S03 Implementing Sustainable Change course’s solitary bees and tree planting student groups, as well as Facility Services.

As an experiential learning course, SUSTAIN 3S03 asked students to pitch project ideas on the first night of class. The projects that they eventually work on are their focus for the rest of the semester. 

Callum Hales and Crystal Zhang are students of the Solitary Bees and Tree Planting student project groups respectively. Both Hales and Zhang’s groups collaborated on this event to increase the biodiversity of plant species and the number of solitary bees on campus. 

Unlike honey bees or bumble bees, solitary bees are not aggressive and they do not produce honey. However, they are excellent pollinators. Hales and Zhang’s student group works to educate the McMaster and Hamilton community about solitary bees as well as inspire initiatives such as this one.

C/O Reta Meng

Following the initiation of the Solitary Bees Project in 2019, 50 bee boxes are now posted around the university campus. With this event, native plant species are planted around the posts and Hales and Zhang expressed that the plants can help to support the bees.

Last year, 80 trees were planted on McMaster Sustainability Day in October. This year, a total of 100 trees were planted. In addition to the student groups, the tree planting was facilitated by Trees for Hamilton, Nature at McMaster, and Facility Services.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the event could no longer encourage volunteers from the community to participate. Hence, the Grounds Department of Facility Services at McMaster handled the tree planting, while Abbie Little, community relations coordinator of the Academic Sustainability Programs Office, overlooked the event. 

Other events included a nature bingo game on Wednesday, an eating seasonally and locally talk on Thursday morning, a sustainable art night on Thursday night and an autumn earth hour on Friday. 

The nature bingo event asked participants to seek out specific items outdoors and complete a bingo card to be entered within a draw at the end of the week.

Thursday morning, in collaboration with McMaster Hospitality Services, Wellness and Sustainability Manager and Registered Dietitian, Liana Bontempo, shared a video about reasons why people should buy food locally. 

Bontempo noted that buying local foods can mean great variety, cheaper and fresher produce as well as the ability to support local farmers. 

Although not the first sustainability focussed initiative that McMaster has held, this is the first time the MSU is holding Earth Week. In planning for this event, Little said that the team considered how students are dealing with the pandemic.

“We know that 2020 has been a strange year and that it could be a tough time for students with midterms and adjusting to online school, so we wanted to encourage students to get outside, think about the food they eat, the nutrients they get, relax with some fun crafts and switch off their power, lights and laptop to conserve energy and unwind,” Little explained.

“We know that 2020 has been a strange year and that it could be a tough time for students with midterms and adjusting to online school, so we wanted to encourage students to get outside, think about the food they eat, the nutrients they get, relax with some fun crafts and switch off their power, lights and laptop to conserve energy and unwind,” Little explained.

Correction: Nov. 23, 2020

A previous version of this article misstated the names of two participants. The article has now been corrected and The Silhouette regrets the error.

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