Our coffee on campus: for the common good

We're changing for good image

Some of you may have noticed the UCSA cafes seems to have switched coffee suppliers. Out with Jailbreaker Roastery, and in with Common Good Coffee Roasters. But what you may not have realised… is it is still the same supplier, just rebranded! (which explains why it still tastes so delicious…)

Change is good. Same coffee, same people, new name, bigger story!

So why do we love Common Good Coffee so much?

  • It’s Fair Trade certified (and as a Fair Trade accredited university, we would drink no less)
  • It’s organic (no nasties)
  • Its delicious (obviously)
  • Its roasted locally (just down the road at Addington Coffee Co-op in fact)
  • Plus, we know exactly where the beans come from (the Ethiopian Sidamo bean in there comes from Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, with premiums from coffee exports returned directly to farmers, and also used to fund initiatives such as food security and organic farming programs)
  • And finally, all Common Good’s profits are reinvested back into communities around the world (ok.. tell us more)


Common Good Coffee Roasters is part of a bigger picture. MUCH bigger in fact. They are part of a wider business called Common Good, which acts as a vehicle to give consumers, producers and their communities the ability to make the changes in their lives that they wanted to see.

They began this journey 10 years ago, under the familiar names of Jailbreaker Coffee Roastery, Liminal Apparel, and Addington Coffee Co-op, roasting and making the delicious coffee you drink on campus, and also providing ethically made tee-shirts and bags. Over 1 million coffees, untold tons of coffee beans, and thousands of ethical tee’s and bags later, they were ready for the next step. Part of the business is now shifted and based in Kolkata, India, where the team behind your daily coffee has been creating jobs and employment for women in their communities, through their apparel and wristband business, now called Common Good Apparel.

Excited? Inspired? Still have questions? Check out their website, to see and learn more about how they are doing business for good. Or: follow them on Facebook and Instagram on @commongoodcoffeenz

So. It’s more than just your cup of morning coffee, but at the same time.. it’s all about that cup of morning coffee. We are all part of a journey to make good a little more common. And we are proud to have them here at UC!

Catch Common Good at this year’s Fair Trade Fortnight! From the 3rd – 16th August, UC Sustainability is holding talks, movie screenings, and a Fair Trade Fair at UC. Keep your eyes out on our Facebook page for more info.




Plastic Free July is almost here!

Only a few more sleeps until Plastic Free July – what have you got planned?

A group of UC students are so passionate about reducing plastic waste that they are taking on the Plastic Free July challenge!


Plastic Free July is a worldwide charitable foundation that aims to raise awareness of the problems, dangers and amount of single-use disposable plastic in our lives, as well as challenges people to do something about it. Over 200 countries around the world participate in the challenge, and we are one of them!

If you aren’t already trying to minimise single use plastics in your life, this Plastic Free July is a great place to start! You can do the challenge for a day, a week or the whole month. You can try to refuse all single-use plastic or try ‘just’ the top 4: plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups and straws. Check out their webpage for resources, information and motivation!


So, what are we doing about raising awareness at UC? The Sustainability Office has nine wonderful volunteers who are going to be sharing some of their experiences and challenges during their take on Plastic Free July! Poppy, Juliet and George are planning on exploring Christchurch and letting us know their favourite spots for zero waste grocery shopping and other essentials. They also promise there will be lots of coffee involved (in reusable cups of course), so prepare for some café chat too!

PFJ bottles

Emily and Helena are also doing some blogging, and their focus is BYO reusable cups and containers. In what looks to be a eating and drinking crawl of Christchurch, Emily and Helena will be checking out where you can take your own containers for takeaway food and drinks, and letting us in on the best spots in the city.

Finally: Jess, Jessica, Varvara and Helena are holding a DIY Zero Waste Essentials Workshop on Tuesday 24th July, from 12pm – 2pm in Undercroft 101. They’ll be showing off their sewing and DIY skills, and teaching you how to make your own produce bags, beeswax wraps (gladwrap is out!) and even face and body scrubs (and you get to take it all home!).

Keep your eyes on our Facebook page for all the event information, and tips and tricks from our volunteers on going plastic free for the month (or, longer!).


Are you keen to take on the Plastic Free July challenge too? You don’t have to go all out! You can choose to do it for a day, week or the whole month and you can either refuse ALL single-use plastic or the TOP 4: plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups and straws. Have a look on the website for ideas on how to get started (and no, you don’t need to sign up)!

If you’re interested in being involved in sharing your experiences during Plastic Free July, please contact the UC Sustainability Office, they would love to hear from you!

This message was brought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Connect with us through Facebook or Instagram. Or email us: sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz

UC Carpooling: What’s next?

Cropped carpool SD

According to the 2016 Travel Survey, 41% of you said that the biggest barrier to choosing carpooling was being unable to find a carpool buddy. So what did the Sustainability Office do? Set up Carpool Speed Dating of course!

We had a whole bunch of you down at the Foundry on Friday night, and we got chatting carpooling, ride sharing, and all things sustainable transport. What we didn’t manage to do, was match anyone with the carpool buddy of their dreams… but we had plenty of people looking for commuting love, and we need a solution! Car parking isn’t getting cheaper, and our roads any less congested…

So, what next? We asked, and you answered! Considering its 2018, we’ve decided online is the way forward, and so we’ve created a UC first: A UC Carpooling Community Facebook page!

Find the link to the group here. It’s open to anyone from UC – staff or student. The idea is you’ll be able to join the group, and post your daily commute to campus for others to see and connect with you. Remember to say if you’re a rider or a driver!

Tell your friends and classmates – even if you only carpool one day a week, you’ll save a heap of carbon emissions, plus it’s easy on your wallet.

The Facebook group will be supported by the UC Sustainability Office (that’s us!) and so feel free to reach out if you have any questions. We have some more information about carpooling on our webpage, and some links to other carpooling initiatives in Christchurch such as Smart Travel to help you connect with your dream carpool buddy. We’ll also post news and any upcoming events on group page, to create a fun carpooling community at UC. Feel free to post and share in the group too!

Remember, you can always arrange to meet your potential carpool buddy somewhere before deciding to commit to a ride – if you’re unsure, why don’t you ask to meet them on campus for a coffee first? Don’t be shy!

Happy carpooling!

The UC Sustainability Office.



Sustainability Framework blog series: Teaching and Learning

UC 18-0056-37

In February 2018, the University of Canterbury adopted a Sustainability Framework, which establishes the approach UC will take to meet its environmental commitments and to incorporate sustainability concepts into decision making at all levels.

The Framework covers approaches to teaching, learning and research, operations, and partnerships for sustainability. In a four part blog series, the UC Sustainability Office is exploring stories of where and how the Framework is contributing to the University’s sustainability journey.

Part one: Teaching and Learning

What do all 1000 undergraduate students of ENGR101 have in common? The beginnings of an in-depth understanding of sustainability. The Sustainability Office recently met with Dr. Alex Yip, Senior Lecturer in Chemical and Process Engineering, and Assistant Course Coordinator for ENGR101 to discuss how sustainability fits into their courses, and has become a key learning outcome of ENGR101: Foundations of Engineering.

We met Alex shortly after over 1000 undergraduate students participated in their dedicated sustainability lecture from Professor Peter Gostomski, and attended a two hour follow up workshop.

Here’s what we learnt:

  • Understanding sustainability as a concept, and being able to comment on and identify sustainability issues is a key learning outcome of ENGR 101.
  • Why? It’s explored in the sense of gaining global awareness and engaging with the community outside of the classroom environment.
  • ENGR101 touches on concepts, definitions, and case studies to develop critical thinking on sustainability issues.
  • Sustainability is far more than just a buzz word for engineers – as they are involved in everything from resource use and extraction through to technology and product design, it is essential engineering students are fully engaged with sustainability concepts through all levels of study.
  • The professional body Engineering NZ expects engineering graduates to be confident and capable of thinking critically about sustainability issues.

And from ENGR 101 onwards? Alex speaks to the huge variety of fields and research areas on offer at UC, majority of which hold sustainability at their core. From Chemical and Process Engineering to Global Humanitarian Engineering, and initiatives such as Engineers without Borders and the Shell Eco Marathon, the scope of teaching and learning around sustainability in engineering seems endless.

We couldn’t be more proud!

2017 Shell Eco Marathon

The UC Shell Eco Marathon Team: Eight UC Engineering Students designed and built an eco-car made from entirely recyclable materials, taking out the 2017 Design Award in Singapore








Bought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Stay connected, and be in touch with us! Follow us on Facebook or Instagram, or check out our website for more information about what we do, and upcoming events.

Got a question or want to know more? Email us at sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz

UC’s Compostable Packaging Trial


Hey UC! Our waste system is changing, and we need your help!

Many of you may have wondered what you can do with the compostable packaging that is available from the cafes on campus.

The Sustainability Office is pleased to offer a solution to some of the compostable packaging options at UC!

The UC Sustainability Office is collaborating with the UCSA, Cleaning Services and other cafes on campus to divert much of our packaging waste from landfill. This trial started in 2013 with takeaway coffee cups, and we have now extended this to include new compostable packaging. We are running a trial on this expanded system for twelve months to gather information on how best to take this project forward.

The blue bins have been placed a strategic points around campus (mostly close to cafes) for the UC community to put their compostable service ware in. The material collected through these bins is then sorted at UC to make sure there is no contamination in them. This process can be time consuming and messy, which is why we need your help to ensure there is no contamination.

Sorted compostable packaging is then sent off with our organics waste to be composted at Living Earth.

Please be careful about what you put in these bins, and follow the instructions on the bin stickers. Even some items that say they are compostable are NOT compostable in Christchurch.

Please remember, these are for compostable packaging only and not for any other items (e.g. pie wrappers, bottles or any other contaminant). This helps to keep the sorting process before we send them away to be very fast and efficient. Please help us keep this project going by telling your colleague and friends about it and not to contaminate the bins!

It is really important to check the new signage on the bins, or the guide above, to see if your packaging will be accepted.

Remember, some types of packaging may say they are compostable, but they are not all accepted in Christchurch by our commercial composting facility!

A quick and easy way to check, is to see if there is anything that looks like plastic on your packaging (regardless of whether it says compostable or not!). If there is, please empty your food waste into the green organics bin, and place the packaging into the red landfill bin.

Packaging that is not accepted into the Blue bins include:

  • Noodle boxes
  • Cardboard boxes with a clear PLA plastic panel
  • Wedge sandwich boxes with a clear PLA plastic panel
  • Clear PLA plastic bowls

anything that looks like plasticnoodle box not accepted

Remember, everything in the Blue bin will be sorted by hand. Please help us by only putting the approved items in these bins, and everything else into organics, landfill or recycling.

Please follow the guide above to be sure, and help make this a success!

For more information, please contact the Sustainability Office: sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz or see our Composting at UC webpage.

Welcome to our new Community Garden Coordinator!

 UC 18-0056-12

As many of you may know, at the beginning of this term, we welcomed our new Community Garden Coordinator, Rowan Brooks to the team at the Sustainability Office.

A now-familiar face for many of those who have been coming along to our weekly working bees, but for those who have yet to cross paths with Rowan, we thought we would write a brief introduction to share and welcome him to our community.

Having studied ecology, psychology, and being involved in grassroots community projects all around NZ (including community gardens and food co-ops) Rowan is passionate about supporting people to realise their power together and to bring soul into social change.UC 18-0056-37

He has spent time working with the Soil & Health Association NZ (which advocates for organic production and sustainable living), as well as wwoofing in Aotearoa and Europe, and learning from the UK food sovereignty movement.

Rowan has very capably and confidently stepped into the role in the busiest time of the year in the gardens, having begun working in the space right before the University welcomed students back for 2018. The garden is thriving, and he has welcomed over 200 students and community members into the garden this year already!

Currently, one of Rowan’s plans for the garden include the creation of a Compost Club on campus. If you’re interested, please contact him on rowan.brooks@canterbury.ac.nz, and he can invite you to the next Compost Club meeting. This is a new idea, and we are excited to see where it could lead. Our dream is to be able to accept some of the compostable packaging items from the cafes on campus… so if you’re passionate about composting and reducing waste to landfill – be in touch!

We are thrilled to welcome him to the Sustainability Community at UC, and are looking forward to seeing what the year brings.

Interested in becoming a volunteer? We have weekly working bees that run all year, on Friday afternoons from 1pm – 5pm in the summer, and 12pm – 4pm in the winter.

More information on becoming a volunteer with us here!

For more information on our community gardens at UC, check out the dedicated Facebook Page, or see our website for more information.

This message was brought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Connect with us through Facebook or Instagram. Or email us: sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz


UC 18-0056-24


Lessons from my Zero Waste heroes!

RTHey guys! Varvara here, one of the Sustainability Office’s Eco Volunteers! I put my hand up to do a write up from one of the Sustainability Office’s recent events on campus, so read on to see what I have to say…

Do you ever get the chance to meet your heroes? I did. As part of a campus event I got to meet Hannah and Liam, the couple who have lived for three years without a bin (yes, you read that right) and the couple behind The Rubbish Trip – a zero waste road show offering presentations to community groups, schools, businesses and households about how and why individuals can reduce their waste footprint.

hannah and liam

Hannah and Liam have been on the road for eight and a half months, touring the country and writing up a guide for zero waste living for every region in New Zealand. Having made it to the talk quite early, I sat in a swivelly chair like a child in front of a magician, watching the pair remove everything from toothpaste to dishwashing liquid from their deceptively small backpacks. The array they presented at the front of the room was more than impressive, zero waste usually comes with connotations of being limited, but these guys obviously didn’t get the message. Around twenty jars of toiletries and hygiene products sat proudly on the table – all homemade, all cheap as chips to make. Covering the rest of the table was everything you could possibly think of: sandwich wraps, takeaway containers, crochet produce bags, knitted cloths and thrift store coffee cups. An impressive array, accumulated over a number of years. When talk turned to the beautiful stainless steel takeaway containers, Hannah said, laughing “We used ice cream containers for the longest time. They work perfectly well and are great for a budget. But we thought a steel container would look more legit, you know?”

The talk itself was in two parts. Part one being the reasons why thinking about our waste is important. Part two was dedicated to the practical tips and recipes for actually minimizing your waste.

Undoubtedly, part one of the talk was not for the weak of spirit. No matter how much you think about the environment in your daily life, seeing the impact our species have had on ‘Spaceship Earth’ is immensely disheartening and depressing. Hannah and Liam flicked through their PowerPoint, each slide dominated by images, statistics and quotes from academic literature displaying the sheer magnitude of the pollution problem. The stats were hard to swallow. If (like many of us) you weren’t already aware – there’s estimated to be about 150 million tonnes of plastic in the ocean already, and every year an additional 8 million tonnes flows in.  The fact that has been floating (excuse the pun) around about there being more plastic then fish in the ocean by 2050? That’s true. And speaking of swallowing, seagulls and turtles aren’t the only animals eating plastic. 83% of tap water samples from around the world contain microplastics.

Our culture of disposability has made us blind to its impacts. We emphasize convenience over the health of our planet and, ultimately, over our survival. But surely not all is lost? Well, according to Hannah and Liam, there is hope. One of the slides they put emphasis on was a magazine article from the 1950’s. On the first page a family are pictured throwing dozens of disposable plates and forks in the air. The second page sings praises of the new era of plastic, where dishes do not need to be cleaned but instead can be thrown out. Hannah explained that the fact that disposable products were introduced into our society only fifty years ago shows that it will not take long to phase them out.

And this is where the second part of the talk began…

The couple talked about beginning a zero waste journey, and how to make it as easy as possible. Their main piece of advice was to find a community, whether on social media or in your city. They explained that a community would provide everything from advice and support to car pools to far away stores which carry some of the more niche goods in bulk.

They suggested phasing things out gradually. For example, they advised purchasing or making zero waste replacements for the things you need as you run out of your ordinary products. This will be less overwhelming and give you time to find the replacements that suit you.

If you are unsure of the options for replacements, a simple google search would be a good place to start. The most common and easy replacements can be found very intuitively. Reusable cups, containers and cutlery are great options for eating out. A handkerchief will be a long-lasting and much prettier napkin replacement. For menstrual products the options are endless, with cloth pads, moon cups and more. Disposable razors can be replaced with a safety razor. The list goes on. One only needs to start exploring options.

Hannah and Liam suggested their website, The Rubbish Trip, where they document the best places to purchase zero waste goods in most regions of New Zealand. The call these their Regional Zero Waste Shopping Guides, and these are updated as the couple make their way through New Zealand. Their website is, by the way, amazing. I am so excited for the Christchurch guide to come out, because the amount of options these guys seem to scout out is incredible!



While their talk predominantly dealt with the practicalities of the lifestyle, some of the most inspirational messages about zero waste I’ve ever heard were dropped casually by the pair throughout the talk.

They talked about the fact that zero waste doesn’t have to be difficult, or expensive. True, we need people like Lauren Singer to make zero waste appealing and an ‘aesthetic’, but there’s no one right way to be zero waste. The beauty of it is that you can do what feels best for you, and what is most convenient. Minimizing the waste in your life will be a process. There’s no quick fix, even if you swear off food and drink and sleep in a cardboard box. Aiming for perfection is unproductive. You can aim to be better than you were yesterday.

And that was so important and encouraging to hear. Just like every major transition in life, there will be failures and missteps on your zero waste journey. But ultimately, it will be worth it. Individual action carries infinitely more weight than we give it credit for. You can make a difference. What you choose matters, so choose a future free of pollution and go zero waste. Your planet will thank you.

A few links to get you started:

The Rubbish Trip’s Facebook page

Upcoming events – there could be another one near you soon!

Regional Zero Waste Shopping Guides

Bare Essentials: Recipes for Zero Waste toiletries

Easy Zero Waste food and drink recipes!


A huge thanks to Hannah and Liam for coming to UC to share with us their journey to living a zero waste lifestyle – we all left feeling encouraged, inspired and humbled. Please check out their website, and follow their journey on Facebook – you won’t regret it!

Thanks to our superstar Eco Volunteer Varvara for the write up – we’re glad you enjoyed the Rubbish Trip visit as much as we did!

Bought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Connect with us through Facebook or Instagram. Or email us: sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz We would love to hear from you!