News from the UC Sustainability Office


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UC Student Flo Hinder takes on Plastic Free July challenge

Fourth-year Civil Eng student Flo is one of the UC students who is going plastic free during Plastic Free July. Plastic Free July aims to raise awareness of the amount of single-use disposable plastic in our lives and challenges people to do something about it. Flo shared some of her plastic free tips with us, and why she is doing it.  

What will you try to do during July?

To cut out all waste actually, not just plastic! This means not purchasing single use items, no wastage (not even recycling!). However, I will use the organics collection bin because it’s a super system in Christchurch for making compost.

Why are you doing the challenge?

I think waste and consumerism have become two really big problems in today’s society. So many items are being created just for convenience, driven by purely short-term thinking and yet this will ruin us in the long term. I also think the University should really try cut down its waste more, with so many (food) places having only the option of single use items. By doing this challenge I want to show people that it is possible to live without creating as much waste!

What do you think is going to be hard?

I think going out for dinner, and going for drinks/social occasions will be challenging as it’s not a social norm to carry around your own container or glass to drink from! I also think being able to resists bargains when I am shopping will be hard, even when they are wrapped in single use plastic.

What are some of your favourite waste-free items?

I have a little wee cup set that I keep in my bag 24/7 just in case I want a beverage on the go, and there are only plastic cups. I am also pretty passionate about waste-free bathroom products. I have a safety razor that is not made of plastic and can be reused. The one I have cost about $13 and came in only cardboard packaging with tonnes of little refill blades and it works a treat! I also love my trusty bamboo toothbrush, just google ‘bamboo toothbrush’ and you’ll find heaps of options. Instead of bottled shampoo or soap, I use shampoo bars and soaps. I order mine locally from Ethique, which is run by a UC alumni! I recommend trying out the starter packs. I use a menstrual cup for that time of the month, the UC pharmacy stocks them or you can find them (cheaper) online, and I honestly think it was the best purchase I have ever made!

Want more info on plastic free bathroom products? Check out

How to get an eco-friendly beauty routine: http://www.teenvogue.com/story/how-to-get-a-sustainable-eco-friendly-beauty-routine

Zero waste bathroom essentials: https://www.youtube.com/?v= watch QMAo9O40zp0

How to have a zero waste period: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQb0HormWMc

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 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)!

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

   

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Emergency preparedness: Build your own emergency kit

Photo credit: Consumer NZ

The consumer organisation Consumer NZ has labelled many of the pre-made emergency kits sold in New Zealand a ‘disaster’. A recent test by Consumer NZ showed that off-the-shelf emergency kits either lacked key items or performed poorly in tests. Their main finding was that people are better off building their own ‘getaway kit’ rather than buying a commercial one.

Putting together your own survival gear not only offers better value for money but also provides a good starting point for a discussion with your family or flatmates about what your plan will be in an emergency. The Ministry of Defence offers an easy-to-use PDF that guides you through a few things to consider in an emergency plan.

Emergency preparedness. Despite being faced with a number of natural disasters in the last decade, the emergency-preparedness of New Zealanders is still poor. A report last year by the Royal Society of New Zealand on the implications of climate change, suggests that in particular floods are likely to become more common in the future, further highlighting the importance of being emergency prepared. This means being prepared to survive for a few days at home when the lights go out and the water stops running but it is also crucial to have an emergency grab bag for when you need to leave quickly.

Build your own emergency grab bag.  Consumer NZ suggest the following items for an ideal emergency grab bag:

  • Backpack
  • Torch: Consumer NZ testing showed that radios and torches powered by disposable batteries were a better option than their wind-up counterparts
  • Radio
  • Spare batteries
  • Hygiene items: Anti-bacterial wetwipes/Tissues/toothbrush and paste/hand sanitiser/female hygiene products/etc.
  • Cash
  • Photo ID and important documents (Could be put on USB)
  • Walking shoes
  • Warm clothes and hat
  • Raincoat and emergency rain poncho
  • Water and drinkbottle
  • Water purification tablets ($13, Life Pharmacy)
  • First aid kit (e.g. Protec first aid kit handy pack) and prescription medication
  • Dust mask (e.g. Rivet Filter Mask Set 2 Piece,$6, the Warehouse)
  • Thick gloves (e.g.ardwell Work Gloves)
  • Snack food
  • Emergency food 3-day ration ($20, Survive-it)
  • Pocket Survival bag ($7, New Zealand Mountain Safety Council)
  • Duct tape
  • Rubbish/plastic bags

Surviving at home. In addition to a grab bag, the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM) recommends having the following basic supplies at home:

  • At least 3 days of water (9L for each person)
  • Long-lasting food that doesn’t need cooking, at least enough to sustain each member of the household for 72 hours. Also include food for babies and pets
  • Toilet paper and large plastic buckets to fashion an emergency toilet
  • Dust masks and work gloves

Further information:

Thanks to Consumer NZ and Radio New Zealand National for the content.

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

 

 

 

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UC Bike gives new life to UC’s abandoned bikes

Earlier this year, in collaboration with UC Security and the UC Sustainability Office, UC Bike repaired, recycled and sold bikes that had been abandoned on campus. “The goal was recycling bikes and putting more people in the university community on bikes rather than making money off already cash strapped students”, Zac Porter from UC Bike explained.

In total UC Security donated 18 bikes that had been left unattended for between 1 and 3 years. Using the UC Sustainability Office’s Dr Bike tools, Olly, Zac, Ben and Brad repaired as many of these as they could. “Of these 18, we managed to get 14 running and gave them all a service, recycling what we could of the bikes that were too broken. We had quite a few franken-bikes by the end!” One of the bikes had been stolen and was re-united with its original owner.

The bikes were then sold to current and past students at a fraction of what they were worth. In total, UC Bike made over $1300, which will be spent on holding events such as Mechanics Nights to further benefit the cycling community at UC. “On Mechanics Nights we teach the basics of bike maintenance, such as how to tune a derailleur, fix flat tires, adjust brakes or anything else the attendees may want to learn on the night.” The next one will be in term 2 with the date yet to be confirmed. Keep an eye out for the event notification on UC Bike’s Facebook page!

For this year all the recycled bikes have been sold but UC Bike plans to do this every year as an ongoing initiative.

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

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A plant-based diet for the environment?

VCUC is the University of Canterbury’s vege club. VCUC is a student club for people interested in animal rights, environmentalism, and plant-based diets. They discuss the importance of adopting a less meat- and dairy-based diet – and how to make that shift! By VCUC. 

CO2 output of animal agriculture is massive

After reading an article by The Guardian shared by the UC Sustainability Community, about reducing the consumption of animal products to help save the world from climate change, we got quite excited because VCUC is all about eating more plant-based.

There is some debate about the exact numbers of greenhouse gases produced by the animal agriculture industry. However, animal agriculture is still a bigger contributor than any other human related activity, including all forms of transport (planes, container ships etc.). We also cannot forget it is the biggest use of fresh water and land, creates the most waste, deforestation and extinction than any other human activity.

Based on 2008 NZ data. Photo Science Media Centre

Based on 2008 NZ data. Photo Science Media Centre

Small steps, big effects

How can you help? Often environmental problems are posed to us as something too big or complex for you to make a change. But there are many small choices made every day that can make a difference. VCUC has some helpful tips.

Many members of VCUC live and thrive off a plant-based diet. Many plant-based diets consist of staples such as fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes. Many find the thought to change to a plant-based diet overwhelming to do overnight and that is normal. A long term method is to slowly reduce your consumption of animal products while simultaneously increasing the number of plant-based foods. For example, swapping meat for beans, in say nachos is an easy option. (Check out this great wee video for a quick nutritional comparison of meat vs. beans!) Other people adopt a plant-based day once a week or incorporate one plant-based meal a day. Try what works for you and remember every plant-based meal is a great achievement and it is never too late to start.

Cheap and easy

A lot of plant-based foods are the cheapest a student can buy in New Zealand. Buying grains (e.g. oats, rice), long shelve life starches (e.g. potatoes, kumara etc.) and legumes can be very cheap. You can buy them bulk and in their dried form (for legumes) for a much cheaper deal. We all know that fruits and vegetables are the healthiest food for us to consume and there are a number of ways to get them cheap:

  • Buy seasonal and ask the shops if they do deals on bulk buys
  • Do not forget the frozen section for bags of fruit and vegetables
  • Explore the weekendimg_1685-small markets (Riccarton, Opawa, Lyttelton, ect.)
  • Check out vege box schemes in Christchurch (just google it for options). Sharing it with your flatmates makes this a cheap option
  • Many fruits and vegetables can be frozen if you have surplus and can’t eat them all before they go off
  • Fruit can be foraged for free, keep your eyes out for trees around the city to pick from. (Make sure you are allowed to do so.)
  • Community gardens are a great place for cheap vegetables. If you volunteer at UC’s community gardens you can take some vegetables home for free!
  • There are also co-ops where you pay a set price for a box of fruit and vegetables, that often gets delivered. Check out vege box schemes in Christchurch (just google it for options). Sharing it with your flatmates makes this a cheap option. Salt and Light is the University one.

And finally, the least environmentally detrimental way is to grow your own. You will be amazed at how much you can grow in a small space, plus you could sell or trade the excess! Get in contact with UC Kakariki for some tips.

A plant-based recipe: Easy bean fajitas

Ingredients

  • 1 can No Fat Refried Beans
  • 1 can Low Sodium Pinto Beans
  • ¼ cup Salsa
  • 1 Onion, sliced into strips
  • 1 Bell Pepper, sliced into strips or other vegetables of your choice
  • 2 teaspoons Fajita Spice Mix (below)
  • Tortillas

Fajita Spice Mix

  • 1 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Instructions

  1. Drain and rinse the pinto beans.
  2. Add salsa and refried beans and simmer until warm.
  3. Whisk all Spice Mix ingredients in a small bowl.
  4. Stir-fry onion, pepper (vegetables), and 2 tsp of Spice Mix in water
  5. Continue stir-frying until liquid evaporates and veggies begin to brown
  6. Assemble fajitas by placing beans in center of tortilla.
  7. Add stir-fry veggies and toppings of your choice.
  8. Roll and enjoy!

We understand that there are still many things left untouched in this blog and you are more than welcome to contact us at vegclubofuc@gmail.com or our Facebook pages https://www.facebook.com/groups/ucvegclub/ https://www.facebook.com/ucvegclub/ for any questions you have or 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

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UC alumni Kyle on how his tiny house contributes to a more sustainable world

As part of Eco Week 2016,  we toured tiny houses built by UC alumni.

One of these tiny homes was built by Kyle Sutherland, who graduated from UC in 2011 with a Bachelor of Commerce. He lives in his tiny house with his girlfriend Hazel. We spoke to him about his experience of building and living in a tiny house.

What made you decide to build your own Tiny Home? 

I’ve always thought that working thirty years to pay an enormous amount of interest to the bank just to have a roof over my head was a crazy idea. When my good friend Bryce told me about the tiny house he was building and what they can enable, I was sold. From the lower carbon footprint of the build to the ability to generate and store all of my electricity completely off grid through solar panels, tiny houses give a whole lot more than just financial freedom.

What have you enjoyed the most during your Tiny House build?

My brother is a qualified builder currently living in Australia and was an absolute legend giving up three months of work to come help me build it. I enjoyed learning a new set of skills which I previously didn’t have and now have awesome memories working on it with my friends and family.

Plenty of storage in the kitchen.

Plenty of storage in the kitchen.

Plenty of smart solutions were found around and in the house ... these are some portable planting bags!

Plenty of smart solutions were found around and in the house … these are some portable planting bags!

Kyle and Hazel did a great job explaining what's involved in building a tiny house.

Kyle and Hazel did a great job explaining what’s involved in building a tiny house.

This tiny log burner easily heats the whole house.

This tiny log burner easily heats the whole house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to give it a go?

It’s a big commitment for those who aren’t as lucky to have family and friends who specialise in the necessary trades, but it is more than achievable with the amount of self-help information out on the Internet. My key piece of advice would be to do lots of research and ask lots of questions. The design of the house is one of the most crucial steps to successfully building a tiny home.

How do Tiny Houses contribute to a sustainable world?

Living in around 23m2 of space has a much smaller footprint than Ray of Light SMLthe average New Zealand home of 209m2. For example fewer resources are required to build a tiny house, and there is a much smaller area to heat in winter. Combine this with off-grid solar, thermally broken windows built with a north facing aspect, a composting toilet and rain collection, tiny houses are part of the housing solution to a more sustainable world.

To learn more about tiny houses, check out Living Big in a Tiny House.

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


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Tiny house, big idea: UC alumni Kerry explains why she built a tiny house

As part of Eco Week 2016,  you can tour tiny houses built by UC alumni.

One of these tiny homes was built by Kerry Mulligan, who graduated from UC in 2007 with a PhD in Engineering. She shares her experience of building and living in a tiny house below.


I visited South America in 2014 and was so inspired by all the people there just getting on with things. I decided that I was not going to pay rent ever again. It’s so important to observe how you live and question whether this is the way you want to live, or whether it is just habit or what you think you should be doing. It is amazing what happens once you start this process. I love experimenting and I wanted a home that would work for me and be a place that is an expression of myself and enables me to be creative.

Building a tiny house has helped me to develop a confidence in approaching situations. I now believe that I can most likely figure it out, or find someone who can. I’ve enjoyed learning new skills, the feeling of accomplishment from doing something I hadn’t done before, and the people I have met during the process. I learned how to take calculated risks too – it is important to ‘go for it’, but I also made sure I knew what I was getting myself into.

Good quality shelter is one of the fundamentals of human life and should not cost the amount of financial and material investment that our current culture demands. There is huge potential for reducing the impact our housing system currently has on our social, economic and environmental sustainability.

I hope to share land IMG_3860 smallwith other tiny home people and share resources (for example the washing machine), knowledge and work. Ideally we would have a large vegetable garden, orchard and shared workshop. I don’t yet know what to call this idea. It’s not a commune as everyone still has their own place and can make decisions around that, but maybe it’s a community in the true sense of the word.


The Tiny House Tour will be held on Thursday 22 September, from 1.30pm – 4.00pm. Meet at Erskine/Science car park, Ilam Campus. Bookings are essential as there are seats available for 22 people only. To register, email ecoweek@canterbury.ac.nz or call 03 364 2025. Bring snacks, drinks and clothes suitable for the weather (footwear with closed toes, no jandals or sandals please).

ENGS5715_Eco_Week_WordPress_BNRTo learn more about tiny houses, read Living Big in a Tiny House.

The Tiny House Tour is part of UC Eco Week 2016, which runs from 19-24 September 2016. Eco Week is a festival of events that celebrates and promotes what you can do for the environment, your community and your life.

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

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UC alumni Kyle on how his tiny house contributes to a more sustainable world

TinyhouseAs part of Eco Week 2016,  you can tour tiny houses built by UC alumni.

One of these tiny homes was built by Kyle Sutherland, who graduated from UC in 2011 with a Bachelor of Commerce. We spoke to him about his experience of building and living in a tiny house below.

What made you decide to build your own Tiny Home? 

I’ve always thought that working thirty years to pay an enormous amount of interest to the bank just to have a roof over my head was a crazy idea. When my good friend Bryce told me about the tiny house he was building and what they can enable, I was sold. From the lower carbon footprint of the build to the ability to generate and store all of my electricity completely off grid through solar panels, tiny houses give a whole lot more than just financial freedom.

What have you enjoyed the most during your Tiny House build?

My brother is a qualified builder currently living in Australia and was an absolute legend giving up three months of work to come help me build it. I enjoyed learning a new set of skills which I previously didn’t have and now have awesome memories working on it with my friends and family.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to give it a go?

It’s a big commitment for those who aren’t as lucky to have family and friends who specialise in the necessary trades, but it is more than achievable with the amount of self-help information out on the Internet. My key piece of advice would be to do lots of research and ask lots of questions. The design of the house is one of the most crucial steps to successfully building a tiny home.

How do Tiny Houses contribute to a sustainable world?

Living in around 23m2 of space has a much smaller footprint than Ray of Light SMLthe average New Zealand home of 209m2. For example fewer resources are required to build a tiny house, and there is a much smaller area to heat in winter. Combine this with off-grid solar, thermally broken windows built with a north facing aspect, a composting toilet and rain collection, tiny houses are part of the housing solution to a more sustainable world.

The Tiny House Tour will be held on Thursday 22 September, from 1.30pm – 4.00pm. Meet at Erskine/Science car park, Ilam Campus. Bookings are essential as there are seats available for 22 people only. To register, email ecoweek@canterbury.ac.nz or call 03 364 2025. Bring snacks, drinks and clothes suitable for the weather (footwear with closed toes, no jandals or sandals please).

ENGS5715_Eco_Week_WordPress_BNRTo learn more about tiny houses, read Living Big in a Tiny House.

The Tiny House Tour is part of UC Eco Week 2016, which runs from 19-24 September 2016. Eco Week is a festival of events that celebrates and promotes what you can do for the environment, your community and your life.

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

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