Lakehead guide to green living
The idea of publishing the Argus’ first ever environment issue has grown over several months this year, and as winter mercifully melts away and concedes defeat to the strengthening spring sun, it seems like an appropriate time to release this issue for students to digest.
This year at Lakehead, students have been exposed to environmental issues like never before. We listened in on the rhetoric of federal election candidates during an October debate at the Outpost. We assessed the validity of each politician’s verbal commitment to nurture our community, and to join with others to improve the overall health of our planet.
After the federal Conservatives won a minority government, hundreds of community members joined together for a teleconference with a genuinely pissed off David Suzuki. His words were inspiring, yet disconcerting.
We’ve read Lakehead University’s Strategic Plan that commits our institution to build only LEED standard buildings on both the Thunder Bay and Orillia campuses.
Meanwhile, our Student Union acquired a Heritage Grant, which allows the LUSU Sustainability Commissioner to become a full-time position.
There are reasons for environmental concern, yet we are also seeing a growing commitment among many community members to take initiative and to live sustainably.
Hopefully this issue of the Argus will get you thinking, get you talking to others, and get you living better. There are plenty of things that we can all do as individuals to help our communities as a whole.
Inspired by the Greepeace’s Green Living Guide, the following ten commitments are simple, environmentally friendly practices that Lakehead students can commit to:
1) Drive less (or don’t drive at all)
Whether vehicle-driving students like it or not, the bus pass is here. Several students’ unions across Canada are without a U-pass, and are fighting to acquire one. If drivers can afford to fill up a gas tank up on a semi-regular basis, they can afford the $70 annual U-pass. With adult bus fares totalling $2.35 per trip, 15 round trips to the grocery store, the Intercity mall, or the Beer Store will give you your money’s worth.
2) Eat fewer animal products (or don’t eat them at all)
Check out the vegetarian and vegan options on campus. The Outpost’s veggie-cream soups are noted as vegan friendly on their menu, while a variety of sandwiches, salads, and appetizers also fall under the animal-free umbrella.
3) Eat organic, locally grown, GE-free food
Back at the Outpost, the burger of the week is available with locally-produced ground beef. At the Study, cookies, cakes, and tarts are baked locally, and are delicious. For off campus options, check out Marley Giunta’s article on page 13.
4) Buy less
We’re students. I think we can be easily convinced to follow suit.
5) Choose fair trade
The Study has shown an incredible commitment to selling fair trade coffee, while fair trade vendors have been welcomed onto our campus on a consistent basis. Ten Thousand Villages played a major role in last week’s International Days celebration, as the organization’s artisan products were sold in the Agora.
6) Reduce airplane travel
This is a thorn in the side of out-of-town Lakehead students, as the bus is horrible and the train is non-existent. However, consider that air travel is two to ten times more climate-intensive than ground travel. If you fly home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and reading week, try staying in Thunder Bay during one of those periods and cut two flights from your yearly routine. The parents will hopefully respect your ethics. Meanwhile, continue the fight to bring back VIA rail service back to Thunder Bay.
7) Reduce waste (including energy waste)
So, your rental agreement includes utilities, and the typical Thunder Bay winter is roaring outside. Still, be a good tenant of your house/apartment/townhouse/planet and reduce your energy consumption by using compact fluorescent light bulbs, unplugging household appliances and electronic devices when you’re not using them, and keeping your windows closed.
On campus, use a travel mug when pursuing your caffeine fix: $0.90 coffee at the Study is a great reward for sound environmental ethics. Recycle you copy of the Argus, or better yet, reuse it for purposes beyond reading (use your imagination).
Ask your professors if you can print your essays on both sides of each page, or use the blank side of previous used paper.
8) Look to your municipality (and your student union)
The newly launched thunderbay.ca features substantial environmental information for residents.
LUSU’s sustainability commissioner is slated to become a full-time position for the 2009-10 school year. Visit the Student Union for more information about LUSU’s sustainability movement.
9) Tell everyone
Lakehead has a sound reputation as an environmental-oriented university; immerse yourself in it, both inside and outside of the classroom.
NGOs like Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and the World Wildlife fund are a wealth of information, providing free e-mail newsletters, and online petitions to generate support for their campaigns.
Learn and pass your new knowledge on.
10) Get (even more) political
If you were among the 1400+ students who voted in last week’s LUSU executive elections: congratulations. Now tell your incoming executives to continue the Student Union’s recent sustainability efforts. Ask for more vegan and vegetarian options at the Outpost and the Study. Ask that the Outpost’s inefficient ventilation system be retrofitted. Pressure Lakehead administration to stop selling bottle water. Whether or not the University has a contract to sell Aquafina on our campuses is inconsequential. Don’t buy it, and it will disappear from our vending machines.