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Student group starts movement to improve McMaster sustainability The MSU sustainability education committee is pushing to improve the university’s current practices

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Photo by Kyle West

By: Neda Pirouzmand

On Feb. 27, the McMaster Students Union sustainability education committee began their three day “Compost at Mac” education campaign in partnership with the academic sustainability programs office and the MSU Maroons.

The campaign marked the beginning of a movement to create more opportunities for students to engage with long-term investment towards changing McMaster’s sustainability practices.

The committee set up a booth in front of Union Market in the McMaster University Student Centre for students to take home herb plants for free.

In addition, the committee distributed cards highlighting the locations of the new compost bins that have been installed across campus.

The new bins have been placed on the first and second floors of Mills Memorial Library and the H.G. Thode Library.

Bins can also be found in front of Union Market in MUSC, in Burke Science Building and in the Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Learning and Discovery near the Tim Hortons cafe.

Tasneem Warwani, the MSU associate vice-president (University Affairs) and a member of the MSU sustainability education committee, acknowledges the importance of coordinating efforts within the MSU to achieve sustainability goals.

“I think the MSU definitely plays a role in advocating for issues such as no waste. We represent the needs and wants of our students, and this is definitely an important and topical issue,” she said.

According to Warwani, system-wide changes will only be effective with the combined effort of many teams as the task is simply too big otherwise.

Warwani expects the committee to undertake work in the near future that could set the stage for a wave of change in sustainability practices at McMaster.

Without compost bins, solid and organic waste go straight to landfills. The piling of waste in landfills prevents oxygen from reaching buried food waste, causing food waste to produce methane gas.

According to the Canadian government, methane is 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in contributing to global warming.

Diverting organic waste from landfills prevents hazardous effects while simultaneously allowing for the proper harnessing of methane gas for renewable energy.

The Ontario government has publicly available information on its major landfills. Currently, Hamilton houses one of the largest landfill sites in Ontario in the Glanbrook district.

Based on available information, there are less than 200 years left until this landfill runs out of space. This creates another reason to remove unnecessary organic waste from landfills.

In addition to green bins, McMaster also has electronics recycling bin drop-off locations in a number of campus buildings, including the Arthur Bourns Building, John Hopkins Engineering Building, Information Technology Building and the Ivor Wynne Centre.

Created because electronics contain harmful chemicals and cannot be easily responsibly disposed of, drop off centres take products like computers, hair dryers and microwaves.

“We are interested to see what other initiatives we can encourage next year’s committee to run. We got a ton of great feedback about the reusable cutlery,” said Connor Maclean, the chair of the committee. “I think making sustainability convenient for students can get so many people engaged in environmental protection and preservation.”

Over the next few weeks, the MSU sustainability education committee will be taking the feedback it received from last week’s campaign to advocate for more green bins on campus.

 

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