Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Waste Audit Part 1

So what can I do?

Arguably, climate change, oceans full of plastic and the continued use of fossil fuels aren’t things that each of us individually can solve.  That said, we don’t have to just ‘continue as is’ powerlessly waiting for others to make changes. Everyday we can take actions that help the planet but also help our bodies and minds in a lot of ways.

Modern culture, through media, marketing and social norms, tells us to shop, accumulate and get more in order to be happy, successful and so on.  What many people are finding out is this routine of more, more, more isn’t making us happy, healthy or satisfied.  In turn, more people are turning to living lighter - purchasing less, looking for durable, reusable items when they do need new things and reducing the amount of waste they create.

This idea of living lighter doesn’t happen overnight, there is no perfect solution, and what works for you and your family may not work for others, but many people have noticed they feel better, spend less money and generate less waste.

KPU Students performing a waste audit, 2015.  

So you ask, how can you start? My first recommended step is to do a waste audit. Look honestly, at the amount of waste generated by your household and then take steps to reduce that waste. You’ll probably quickly realize that nearly half of your waste is compostable, another quarter is recyclable and the rest is bound for the landfill.  The average north American generates four pounds of garbage a day – at the end of this you’ll get to find out how you compare – don’t worry there’s no shame this is all about learning.

Doing a waste audit isn’t difficult though it does take some preparation and organization. Essentially, you're going to gather all your waste from the kitchen, bathrooms, offices and such for a few days, and measure it by weighing or counting and then calculating how much you generate per person or per day for your household. Once you know what your waste is, investigate where its coming from and what you can do to reduce it. Don’t forget to get your roommates, partners and family involved because they’re responsible for that waste too and they will probably be mores supportive if they’re included too!  

For more details on conducting your own audit try one of these great blogs:

From your audit, you’ll probably find some changes you could make right away - sorting your recycling properly or using a reusable coffee cup. One of the best things you can do is make sure that what you’re currently recycling in your municipal or building recycling bins is actually what’s meant to go in those bins - look up your municipal website or talk to your building manager and make sure you stick to what’s allowed. Wishcycling (hoping it can be recycled), actually reduces the ability of that whole bin to be recycled.  Other changes might require more research and planning - any change to reduce waste is positive and it won’t all happen overnight. If you want to follow along,  Next month, we’ll explore doing a waste audit with some of our KSA staffers who undertook this project in December so you can compare your results to some locals doing the same thing!  We’ll also delve into some great resources for starting your journey looking at the waste you generate but if you’re curious right now - just hit up Google, Instagram or Pintrest and search zero waste.

By looking at ways to reduce your waste you’re joining a growing movement of people striving to live zero waste, reduce their plastic use, take better care of their bodies or just create a personal challenge for themselves.

If your curious about why reducing garbage and waste is important try some of these resources:

-- Mairi (KSA Sustainability Coordinator) 

Waste Audit Part 2 coming soon... 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

10 Things That Are Unique & Cool About BC

10 Things that are unique and cool about BC

BC is a pretty awesome province, we have a beautiful coastline, some very majestic mountains, and this one place where you can get all you can eat poutine. We also have a bunch of fairly interesting things that make this province different, so today we are bringing you a list of 10 of the things that are unique about BC. Enjoy!

1) According to one report BC is the healthiest province in Canada, with a life expectancy of 82.2 years. We have low rates of obesity, drinking, and smoking, and the highest percentage of people who do physical activity in their leisure time. I think that means everyone has to stop making fun of our yoga pants now.

2) BC has had some weird laws. Between 1947 and 1986 you were not allowed to sell stoves within Vancouver city limits on a Wednesday. To be clear, you could sell stoves anywhere you wanted the other six days of the week, and outside city limits anarchy reigned and you could sell a stove on any day of the week.

3) BC has the longest running movie theatre in all of Canada. Powell River’s Patricia Theatre opened in 1913, and has been showing films ever since. It makes sense that film is important here, BC is second only to LA in TV production, so British Columbians are more likely than most to recognize that one place that was in a scene in that show that one time… you know the one.

4) BC is responsible for Botox. The cosmetic treatment involving injections that alter the shape of your face or lips was invented in Vancouver in the year 2000.

5) We are the only province in Canada without needs-based grants for students. In every other Province the provincial government looks at your household income and gives low and middle income students a portion of student loans as a non-repayable grant. We are currently working with other universities on the Grants Now campaign to get a comprehensive system of needs-based grants in BC, and catch up with the rest of the country. If this is the kind of thing you think is important, email campaigns@kusa.ca to find out how to get involved in the campaigns we run.

6) We are the home of the man with the longest beard. The Guiness world record holder is named Sarwan Singh, and he and his 2.33 meter long beard live in Surrey. For reference, Shaquille O'Neal is only 2.2 meters tall.

7) We basically invented speed-writing here (speed writing, it turns out, is a thing). The now international, 3-day novel contest in which writers attempt to complete a novel in 72 hours started in Vancouver in 1977. It started in a bar, so I am gonna go out on a limb and say someone made an overly optimistic wager about their writing skills one night after having a few too many local brews. But it continues to this day. You can find out all about how to sign up here.  

8) BC has been a leading adopter of Open Educational Resources, which are basically freely accessible textbooks, which you can usually find online. BC has the only program where you can get a whole degree without paying for a single textbook! It’s called the Zed Cred program, and was launched right here at KPU.

9) Oak Bay has some very specific laws about pets. Pet parrots must be confined to your property. If your Parrot is found trespassing, they can be impounded by the city, which will cost you $6 a day. You will also be fined if you fail to keep your bees away from your neighbours pond. I am sensing that that last one is the result of a specific incident involving an angry pond owner, but I could be wrong, this might be a common problem in Oak Bay.

10) Last but not least, you might expect California rolls, named after an American state and now a staple in every sushi restaurant, to come from California, but we get to take credit for that one to! California rolls were invented in BC, and kicked off the trend of turning rolls inside out to hide the seaweed from North Americans who weren’t used to eating it yet.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Club of the Month: Sustainable Agriculture Student Association

Every month we (try to, yes sometimes it just doesn’t end up happening, we’re sorry, please forgive us) feature a KSA club and highlight the fun/cool things that make their club different from the others. It’s a chance to get a little inside information, and see what events and meetings they have coming up.

Our January Club of the Month is the Sustainable Agriculture Student Association!

SASA (Sustainable Agriculture Student Association) is a unique club that caters directly to the students within the Sustainable Agriculture Program. We get together and discuss the program itself, swap textbooks when we can, and search for funding to send students to conferences that are relevant to our program. It isn’t just organizational tool for the Agricultural student body, but also a meeting for point for all the different years to get together and swap ideas, give advice for the program, for minors, for electives, and for course planning, we use it as a tool for our senior students to pass on their wisdom to the new crop of students.

SASA started because students wanted an organization that got all Ag students from all the years together, to have our own Ag specific events, and an organization that connected us all to KPU/KSA, but also to each other. The ability for SASA to fundraise to send students to program relevant conferences is also much greater than what each individual student could achieve, and the conferences that we have been able to send students to has been invaluable. Not only for greater learning in Agriculture, but also for networking, and future research and job opportunities.

SASA is still a pretty green. We haven’t established any major traditions, and events from year to year are always changing. The program itself is still new and evolving, and SASA is always evolving with it. This past year for example, there was extra produce that we usually sell at our farmers market, but due to a location change, there was even more surplus than normal. This led to the opportunity for SASA to sell the produce to their students on campus using a trolley that we took classroom to classroom. One theme, however, which SASA has always been pushing for, is for SODEXO to incorporate more of the student grown produce from our program into their menu. What better way to get the entire student body involved in the Sustainable Agriculture program, than by supporting their fellow students by eating locally student grown fruits and vegetables!

Our first meeting of 2018 is going to be on January 17. This meeting will be held to introduce our new all female executive consisting of President Piper Kenney, Vice-President Lindsay Dodds, Secretary Angeli Dela Rosa, and Treasurer Hazel Chan. We will also be discussing how many students we can send to the next COABC conference (Certified Organic Association of British Columbia) which will be held in Abbotsford in February where our own Kent Mullinix (Director of the Institute of Sustainable Food Systems) is one of the Key note speakers this year. This year their theme is Bioregionalism; resilience in a changing climate.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

New Year, New Perspective

Every year when the clock strikes 12 and the calendar shifts into a new year, you get that feeling that you’ve been given another chance to get your life together.
Well, that’s the dream at least…there’s that perpetual feeling that the chalkboard has been swiped clean and you get a fresh start from the troubles you want to leave behind.

So what do you do with that kind of power? Most consider: joining a gym, starting a meal plan/diet, making new friends, trying new experiences? Why not attempt it all? You’re excited, pumped even. You can’t wait to do it and be the best version of you.

Well that’s where things get rough. You start the year ambitious, you do it all, you join the gym and meal plan and make friends with the person taking the boot camp class beside you and try online dating and join a book club. By the end of January you feel like a brand new person. You can do it all, handle it all and life is flying high. Then you skip a morning workout to catch up on sleep and ignore the text from your friend reminding you of class. You stop by McDonalds on your way home because the idea of making quinoa, steamed broccoli and chicken for the 3rd time this week makes you cringe. You abandon the dating app because you’re tired of no replies or inappropriate unwanted pics. You feel even more defeated than you did at the end of 2017.
Then you abandon it all and go back to everything you were trying to change for the New Year because you’ve overwhelmed yourself.

How about for 2018 you take a new approach. Choose one thing to focus on. Ask yourself what will improve your day? What will help combat your mental health daily? What is likely to become routine for you? Feeling overwhelmed can often affect your ability to make proper decisions and act rationally. When you take on too much you set yourself up for failure. Give yourself a chance to succeed in 2018, make this the year that your happiness takes precedent.
So join that gym. Just don’t push yourself to hard and go every day or multiple times a day. Start slow and work your way up so it stays enjoyable.
Or, go on another date when you are ready because love isn’t actually dead and anyone who ghosts you and send you inappropriate pics were never meant for you anyways. Just be gentle on your heart. Don’t go on date after date and try too hard, it will find you.

Or, choose a day to work on meal planning instead of slaving over the stove for hours every night so you have the rest of the week to add new activities like a book club to your life.

The point is to take that New Year feeling and harness it into a new perspective on how you want to approach your life. Because at the end of the day it’s your life and you get the chance to enjoy it as long as you don’t burden yourself with too much.

This blog post was written by Alicia, Kwantlen's Health Plan Administrator. As a KPU Student, you are automatically enrolled in a Health & Dental Plan. If you are covered by a family or work plan (with equal or greater coverage) already, you can opt out. Opting out must be done by February 2nd, 2018 for the Spring 2018 Semester. More information on your health plan here.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

2017 Recap

I cannot be the only one who feels like it was March all of 4 days ago. Yet here we are with the New Year right around the corner. Where did the year go? What happened? I can barely remember what I had for lunch 3 hours ago.

Here’s my best recap of what happened this year as remembered by me (and other staff that randomly walked by my desk while I was typing this)...

Nicki, the KSA’s new Policy and Political Affairs Coordinator starts. She has no idea what is coming around the corner for her in May (re: provincial election). We took part in Orientation and visited all 4 campuses for Welcome Week.

KSA Elections happened and a new Council is elected. No one can remember anything else from this month.

MARCH 2017
The KSA Council made Ryan Reynolds an honorary member of the association at our Annual General Meeting…..
…. Yeahhhhhh, let's just not talk about that one.

APRIL 2017
The parking lots started to clear up. Hooray for the upcoming Summer semester! April was also the month of the KSA/KPU Volunteer Recognition Dinner, where we celebrated hard working Kwantlen volunteers.

MAY 2017
The big news this month was the BC Provincial Election! 

The KSA Executives mysteriously disappear. They say they were at numerous conferences meeting with other student associations, learning, growing and networking... no one knows for sure. Someone show me proof!

The BC Provincial Election is stillllllllll going. We cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel, everyone is confused, this hasn’t happened before!

JULY 2017
The BC Provincial Election is basically figured out. But more importantly, this beautiful creation (KSA blog) started to become a thing.

Read our blog post on how the BC Provincial Election is the worst tinder date you've ever been on here.

August was a big month for the KSA.  

First, one of our own became a local celebrity! Our VP External Caitlin was featured on the FRONT PAGE of the Georgia Straight newspaper. It’s no Time Magazine Person of the Year but heck I’ve never been on the front page of anything, have you?

Secondly, Kelsey our new Records Coordinator and Archivist started, 1 week later she was buried underneath approximately 376 boxes of old files and re-evaluating her life decisions.

Lastly, we published our first post here!

September was a blur of student BBQ’s and putting tents up and doing events and talking to students and talking to more students and SO MUCH TALKING TO STUDENTS (we love it, we really do, but September is a lot).

October was a really funny month because we thought that we would get a break from all the talking and events and tabling in September but HA HA HA… October was essentailly September all over again minus a few burgers.

Let’s be real for a minute: September and October were incredible months for #KPUcampuslife we held a large number of events across various departments and really focused on student engagement.

We had a stat holiday, made some bath bombs and watched Harry Potter. Our Marketing Coordinator also bought a Marshmellow gun, it only kind of worked properly (you win some, you lose some). More important than all of those things though, dogs came to campus as a part of Stress Relief Week!

I thought it was November for the first 5 days, we decorated our offices for the holidays... and I wrote this!

Note: These things really did happen, but we did so much more this year than what is listed above. For example… We ran numerous campaigns on issues that affect students such as housing and mental health. Throughout the year we hosted a large number of events focused on a variety of student interests (from mental health to sustainability to inclusivity to physical fitness). We attended some really great conferences and brought back innovative ideas to initiate here on campus. We supported Kwantlen students to attend conferences and workshops so they can learn, grow and bring back ideas of their own. We helped student clubs and provided student engagement opportunities through our 3 volunteer programs. We sent students to Victoria to speak with the government, did yoga in the garden, took students concerns to University staff and ate wayyyy too many burgers.

See you in 2018!

-- Kendell