September 27, 2020

BY WENDY CZAKO-MAH

In today’s world of recycling, the standard garbage bin should be a thing of the past. Fairview Park mall is trying to make that a reality, not only by offering four bins for different recyclable products, but by holding a Green at Work campaign.

Conestoga College students and Kitchener’s Fairview Park partnered up for the initiative that ran April 6 and 7. It featured games and activities to help not only promote public awareness, but to educate mall retailers.

Students from the integrated marketing communications program, which supports and promotes environmental sustainability, formed three teams and competed for the opportunity to run the event.  Fairview Park marketing manage Leah Landriault chose the group that best captured her vision.

Landriault said, “The professor, Kim Denstedt, approached me and wanted to do some type of event to gain some experience (for the class). So Green at Work is something we’ve had for a number of years, but we’ve never been able to give it that kick.”

With several new programs the mall wanted to initiate, it became the perfect opportunity to get some extra help.

Landriault said, “We’re actually just implementing a single stream system. Basically it’s organics in one bin and everything else in another bin. It actually expedites the process in the shopping centre, and then we’re working with waste management who will properly sort and divert pieces from the landfill.”

The team put together three games; mini putt, Are You Smarter than a Conestoga College Student and Minute to Win It. Are You Smarter focused on environmental issues and five pillar initiatives: energy, waste management, environment sustainability, sustainable procurement and communication.

The students were not easily missed as they ran around in their bright green T-shirts, coaxing shoppers to play the games.

As research is one of the most important tools to effective event planning, students discovered that corporations have the ability to have a huge impact, especially when it comes to the environment. Cadillac Fairview adopts progressive environmental standards and is committed to social responsibility as a corporation.

“It’s a big project, not so small,” said Taylor  Rutherford, media spokesperson for the group, as she discovered the extent the corporation goes to. In 2004 they became one of the first in Canada to convert their downtown buildings to a deep lake water cooling system, which uses the frigid temperatures from the lake water to cool their building, significantly reducing energy consumption and emissions.

Kathleen MacDonald, another group member, talked about the backstage tour they had of Fairview Mall’s waste management facility – a place shoppers never see. She was awestruck at the complexity of their green initiatives, and the pride the mall has taken in them.  She points out how they had different rooms for cardboard, plastic and waste.

“You don’t really think that there’s more beyond the mall, besides the stores, but there is this whole separate area back there, just being used to reduce their utilities,” MacDonald said.

At the Green at Work weekend, students also handed out pamphlets that informed the public on how the green initiatives have impacted the environment. The mall has diverted 36 kilotons of waste from the landfill and between 2009 and 2011 Cadillac Fairview reduced its energy consumption by 26 per cent.

Landriault, whose job is to promote and support the mall retail clients, said, “Cadillac Fairview, the corporation, is based out of Toronto and has nine shopping centres in Ontario. The Green at Work program is head-office driven, but it allows each individual property to customize to their area.”

Green at Work started a few years ago, but not many people are aware of it. Landriault is hoping with the launching of the campaign, this will change.