November 14, 2019

The sustainable business management students at Conestoga’s Doon campus are launching an engagement campaign to achieve zero waste in campus cafeterias.

Kathryn Cooper, instructor in sustainability and corporate social responsibility, is mentoring the graduate certificate students through the project.

Sorting Audit
Kathryn Cooper, right, an instructor at Conestoga College, does a sorting audit with her students of the packaging material from the Doon cafeteria in Kitchener, Ont., on Monday, Jan. 28. 2019. Photo by Ahmad Khan, Spoke News

“Forty per cent of all waste generated at Doon goes to landfill each year. Analysis suggests that only six per cent needs to go to landfill. This means that 34 per cent of our landfill [material] could be composted or recycled into containers or paper,” Cooper said.

“We think that Conestoga College can be a leader in sustainable action and our sustainable business management students want to show the way,” Cooper continued.  “We will be in the cafeteria during Environment Week, which is being held in March. We will focus on improving the waste disposal practices in the cafeteria. We intend to limit the extent of cross-contamination. Ninety-four per cent of all waste from the cafeteria can be used in a positive way. Our ultimate objective is to get to zero waste.”

Cooper says the campaign will begin in early February with a survey of both students and faculty and the launch of a series of sustainable-action blogs. The intent is to see what sustainable environmental practices the Conestoga College community is currently engaged in and what can inspire further action.

Each of Cooper’s 70 students at Doon and the remaining 17 at the Brantford, Ont., campus will be researching and writing a 300-word blog. The first round of blogs will be posted on Feb. 4.

“The intent is to get students to think about what they can do to contribute to environmental sustainability,” she said.

The blogs will have videos and interactive calculators to check one’s carbon and water footprints, and personal actions that can be taken to reduce waste.

“I have children and I want a more flourishing future for [them],” Cooper said. “Climate change is the biggest issue of our time and we need our students to be aware and take action and be part of the solution to this enormous challenge.”

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