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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UC students discover native birds thriving on Ilam campus

Bellbird and chicks. Photo credit Jim Briskie.

A chance discovery and a new survey by University of Canterbury students have shown that both the range and abundance of native bird species have increased at the university’s Ilam campus almost 500 per cent in the last 26 years.

Last year, as part of a lab exercise for Biology 273 (New Zealand Biodiversity and Biosecurity), a group of UC students created a bird atlas of the UC campus and compared it to a similar atlas from 1990 (by Krystyna Dodunski, a former Zoology student).

The results of the survey indicate that in the 26 years that have passed all native species increased in range and abundance, with an increase of almost 500% in the total number of native birds observed. One species, the bellbird, is now in the early stages of colonising campus. And fantails, grey warblers and silvereyes have all become significantly more abundant on campus.

The greatest diversity of native birds occurred along the campus waterways. Professor Jim Briskie (School of Biological Sciences) says it is likely that the changes are a product of increased plantings of native trees (favoured by native birds) and decreased open space (habitat favoured by many introduced species). Maintaining and expanding native plantings at UC could also help to further increase the range of native birds, like the native pigeon or kererū.

Given the dependence of bellbirds on flowering and fruiting trees, Professor Briskie suggests it is worth considering plantings that provide this resource, and to ensure that the current small population of bellbirds does not disappear. Restoring species that formerly occurred in the Christchurch area but are now locally extinct could be a long-term goal for the management of the campus green spaces.

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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You can now recycle your soft plastics!

Photo credit: Soft Plastics

Photo credit: Soft Plastic Recycling

Rice bags, chocolate bar wrappers … you can now recycle them! Have you seen these bins in your local supermarket and wondered, what can I put in it?

The Love NZ Soft Plastic Recycling Programme is a new industry-led recycling programme that diverts soft plastics from landfill and turns them into new products.

New Zealanders use around 1.6 billion plastic bags every year, that means that 4.3 million are thrown away each day! These soft plastic bags are not currently collected for recycling by councils because they can contaminate the recycling process.

What plastic do the bins take? It takes all soft plastic bags including bread bags, frozen food bags, toilet paper packaging, confectionery and biscuit wraps, chip bags, pasta and rice bags, courier envelopes, shopping bags, chocolate and muesli bar wrappers, sanitary hygiene packaging . Anything made of plastic that can be scrunched into a ball. Make sure the plastic is reasonably clean and dry.

Capture 2

Photo credit: Soft Plastic Recycling

Where? You can find your closest store on the store locator. Currently the project is focused on supermarkets and retailers but this may extend to educational institutions (like UC!).

What happens after collection? The plastic is collected by Abilities Group, an organisation established to create meaningful employment for people with disabilities. The collected plastic is sent to Australia where it is transformed into robust plastic products like outdoor furniture, bollards and recycling bins.

What else can you do? Reducing plastic is still the best option. So think about:

– Shop in bulk or trash free: There is Bin Inn of course and shops like Piko Wholefoods Co-Operative and Harbour Co-op.

– Getting a string bag for your fruit and vege in addition to your cloth shopping bag. Check out these organic ones

– Reduce your food wrapping waste by getting (or making) a non-plastic one e.g. Honeywrap or Keep Leaf

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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Dr Bike is back for 2017!

Olly (L) and Zac (R)

Dr Bike  is back for 2017 and starts on Tuesday the 28th of February! Dr Bike is a free fix-it clinic for basic bike issues available to both staff and students, funded by the Sustainability Office. This service provides basic maintenance and repairs such as punctures repair, tuning brakes and oiling chains.

Olly Ng and Zac Porter are running Dr Bike on Tuesdays, 12-1.30 pm on C Block lawn during term time. For more information, check here.

We are excited that Dr Bike will be using eco-friendly bicycle lubricants, thanks to Christchurch-based company Biomaxa!

If you’re interested in seeing how Dr Bike fits into the bigger picture about planning for cyclists at UC, you might like to look at the draft UC Cycle Plan 2014-2022.

Welcome back to uni and keep an eye out for these guys on Tuesdays!

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UC’s Sustainable Furniture: You might be sitting on Banks Peninsula wool!

 img_3806aWhen we talk about sustainability, it’s often about waste reduction or energy efficiency but not about procurement (how UC buys its goods from external parties). That’s a shame because UC’s procurement of “new” furniture has great sustainability features! We had a chat to Shelley Ranson from UC Procurement.

What does your team do? We provide purchasing and procurement services to the University.  In terms of Sustainability, we want to maximise social and economic benefits, and minimise damage to health and the environment. Often this means giving time to explore possibilities. For instance, by talking openly with supply partners we encourage them to review their existing sustainability initiatives and explore new opportunities. The Furniture Project is a recent example of this. 

The Furniture Project? With the pending completion of several major new buildings, and UC’s ‘normal’ ongoing requirement for new furniture, it wasn’t possible to furnish from existing stock, and a lot of new furniture was required. We selected four preferred supplies and a core catalogue range. During the project a Furniture Policy was written as well.

What sustainable features does the new furniture have? The core range furniture has the following features:

  • Environmental responsible manufacturing: Materials are low emission, sustainably sourced and designed for disassembly at end-of-life
  • Socially responsible manufacturing: Chain of custody for manufacture particularly with regard to working conditions of off-shore labour
  • Durability: E.g. AFRDI* and BIFMA** accreditation. This means the furniture is tough enough to withstand the high wear and tear environment of a university and won’t break or wear out as quickly as standard furniture
  • Ergonomic features: So that workplace health and safety is supported
  • Future reuse or recycling potential: The ability to relocate furniture for continued use around campus by establishing a standard range of furniture
  • Excellent warranty periods: Reducing whole-of-life costs and extending the functional life of the furniture

Developing a transparent supply chain has enabled us to understand the source materials and the location of manufacturing of our core range. Some of the selected products are locally manufactured in New Zealand. One example is the brand of soft seat covering of which the wool is produced from Banks Peninsula sheep!

What inspired the sustainability element in procurement decisions? Procurement meets fortnightly with the Sustainability Office to discuss current img_3808a projects and new initiatives. Through these discussions we have been able to identify potential ways in which UC can increase the use of environmental and socially responsible products and services. Also, Bronwyn Rice (our Procurement Strategist) comes from a background of sustainable procurement and brings her experience with Australian universities to UC.

And the old furniture, what happens to it? A robust disposal guideline is being followed, which means, for instance, that any furniture that can be reused will be stored***. We are also reviewing options for re-covering existing chairs to extend their life cycle. Obsolete items are at times given away or sold to local schools, education charities or UC staff/students. Our furniture storage partner (Allied Pickfords) has several partnerships, including charities, to facilitate this. Obsolete items are broken into component parts for scrap and recycling. Landfill is a last resort for damaged items that cannot be re-used, gifted or recycled in any way.

Finally, what are some of the other sustainable procurement initiatives? One is our collaboration with Futureworks, our Audio-Visual (AV) supplier. At the design stage, they advise on environmentally friendly options for installations (e.g. RMS is a solution that reduces energy consumption by remotely turning off equipment in empty rooms). They also offer environmentally friendly hardware disposal by arranging the delivery of obsolete hardware to recycling organisations. Another exciting collaboration is with our preferred Catering suppliers. They engage in a variety of activities, like supporting local producers where possible, using fair trade products, offering BYO mug options or arranging for food waste to go to farms.

Some other initiatives we are exploring include: Removal of packaging; compostable packaging including coffee cups, plates etc.; paper trial underway through UC print (Chamex) made from renewable and certified Brazilian forests; new cleaning consumable supplier (Advance Clean) who manufactures own range of eco-friendly cleaning products (Advance Nature); new preferred transport provider (Red Bus) are leaders in fuel efficiency and emissions reduction.

The University is in a great position to instigate change within supply chains and to support sustainability at a local business level.

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

*Australasian Furnishing Research and Development Institute                            **Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association ***Any furniture requirements should be done via a BEIMS request. More information available here.

 

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Wanted: University of Canterbury Sustainability Office Assistant

IMG_0744Here is a great chance to join our dynamic team!

So we are looking for a Sustainability Office Assistant.

About the role

This position is primarily focussed on supporting the Okeover Community Garden, but will also involve support for other Sustainability Office projects and programmes from time to time.

This is a casual position for 6 hours per week @ $18 p/h, starting soon! At this stage, the position is guaranteed till the end of April 2017.

Community Garden maintenance

The Okeover Community Garden is a key project of the Sustainability Office. To ensure it is kept in good condition, the following tasks need to be fulfilled:

  • Propagation
  • Soil fertility management; e,g, composting and crop rotation
  • Seed-saving
  • Planting
  • Weeding
  • Irrigation
  • Pruning
  • Tool sharpening
  • Shed cleaning
  • Pest, disease and disorder management
  • Harvesting and distribution
  • Reporting: (attendance and harvest statistics)

Community Garden Coordination

Volunteers attend the community garden on a weekly basis and it is essential that the person in this role is there to welcome, direct and instruct volunteers as they arrive, and maintain a happy, healthy group culture:

  • Facilitate group meetings (and take notes)IMG_0741
  • Relationship management
  • Community engagement
  • Welcoming new gardeners (including doing inductions)
  • Organising afternoon teas
  • Providing instruction or direction for volunteers as appropriate.
  • Managing health and safety requirements in the gardens.

Other tasks as required

From time to time the Sustainability Office will require the Sustainability Office Assistant to assist with other projects.

Reporting

This position will report to the Sustainability Advocate or a delegated staff member.

Key attributes

  • Organic gardening knowledge
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • Leadership
  • Time management

Experience

  • Community gardening or other gardening work
  • Community development work

Applications must be made by 5pm Monday 12 December.
Please send a brief cover letter and CV to matt.morris@canterbury.ac.nz

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Cycle Stand Update

people-vector-designed-by-stephanie2212-freepik-com: People vector designed by Stephanie2212 - Freepik.comGood news for Engineering students (and others)! It looks like the existing secure cycle stand on Creyke Road will be retained now, which means another 100 secure bike parks will be able to come back on line soon.

We received some very interesting feedback in this year’s UC Travel Survey, indicating that around 40% of cyclists prefer secure cycle stands above other kinds of bike parks. The challenge we have now is to think through the various ways that we can ensure our bike parks really are secure. For instance: Is card access the best method?

We saw a campus bike park system at the University of the Sunshine Coast recently where your student card gave you access to the secure bike parking, but ONLY if you were on a register of users. What do you think about this? We’d love to hear your feedback and suggestions. You can comment on this post, or email us on sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz.

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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