Sustainability

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Maximizing Summer and Minimizing Waste

July 23, 2020

2020 is the ten year anniversary of Plastic Free July, a global movement to encourage people to reduce single-use plastic items such as coffee cups, bottles, and plastic cutlery. Refusing single-use items is a great way to reduce your environmental impact because it’s all about waste prevention. With many people spending more time at home this summer, there’s an opportunity to make small changes that can make a big difference.

There are many alternatives to single-use items, such as reusable mugs and water bottles. But the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many stores to stop accepting reusable food and drink containers. So how do we reduce single-use items during the pandemic? Here are some ideas:

Plastic-free produce bags, wax wraps, dishcloths ,and more.

  • Need coffee? Brew at home (think of the money you’ll save and fresh coffee aroma’s in your home!). Many local coffee shops such as Little Sister Coffee Maker , Thom Bargen , and Fools and Horses sell their coffee for retail.
  • Going to the park, the beach, or a hike? Bring a reusable water bottle and / or your RRC sustainability mug to keep things cool. Pack your own food and bring reusable napkins and cutlery.
  • Going out for lunch? Support restaurants that minimize plastic and Styrofoam, such as Nuburger, The Forks Market or Hildegard’s Bakery . Consider portion sizes, and bring a reusable container for leftovers.
  • Buying groceries? Local stores, markets, bakeries, etc. that use less plastic packaging. Remember your reusable grocery and produce bags. Most grocery stores still accept reusable bags if you load your own groceries.
  • Learned new skills? Practice the new skills you learned during the pandemic lockdown – baking, cooking, gardening, creative meal planning and mixology! RRC hospitality has some great recipes to try.
  • Storing food? , try reusable containers, bags or beeswax wraps. Replace paper towels with reusable cloths that are machine washable. These items can be found in stores that sell eco-friendly household products, including Generation Green , Pineridge Hollow , and Humbolt’s Legacy .

With some practice and planning, you can significantly reduce single-use items that end up in the landfill. Plastic items such as water bottles and straws can take hundreds of years to decompose. By trading these items for reusable ones, we can avoid waste, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and even save money in the process.

While it’s hard to completely eliminate single-use items, Plastic Free July is about building awareness and trying to change behaviour, one small step at a time. If you would like to participate in Plastic Free July see link. https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/.

Enjoy the summer and stay safe.

Commuter Challenge Results… and Musings on Telecommuting

June 24, 2020

The sustainability team rode together for the last prize delivery to our final participant winner Jackie!

This year, 296 workplaces and 2,868 people registered for the Commuter Challenge across Manitoba. At RRC, 80 staff and faculty participated to collectively reduce 1661 kgs of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. All told, this earned us a Silver medal finish in our workplace category!

While reflecting on the College’s strong participation in the Commuter Challenge throughout the years, we found this year’s results to be particularly interesting. Compared to last year, our percentage of participants decreased by 15%, yet the emissions avoided per person increased by 30%. So while the 15-step commute from your bedroom to your home office might have been a little less stressful and a lot less time consuming, it also brought a per-person reduction in CO2 emissions.

Because of COVID-19, staff, faculty and students have transitioned to online working and learning and remarkable speed. We’ve all experienced many adjustments to our routine, including replacing our regular commute with telecommuting. Since March 16th, we’ve tracked and calculated the impact of emissions from kilometers not traveled for student and staff parking pass holders at NDC, Stevenson, Bannister and LTC. Collectively, we haven’t travelled 3,939,637km. This amounts to greenhouse gas emissions avoidance of 797,382kg of CO2. That’s like (not) driving around the world 94 times!

In a 2017 College survey, 15% of staff and faculty cited telecommuting as their preferred commute mode. Now that we’ve settled into our work-from-home routines for the last 3+ months, we can’t help but wonder if attitudes and beliefs around telecommuting have shifted and wonder what (and where) the future of College work will look like.

Thanks to everyone who took on the challenge! We hope to greet you with warm cinnamon buns and Fairtrade coffee at the kickoff of Commuter Challenge 2021!

A Decade of Sustainability – RRC Named One of Canada’s Greenest Employers

June 15, 2020

We’re beyond thrilled that Red River College has been recognized as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for the 10th straight year. This national designation recognizes employers for their environmentally friendly policies and programs that engage staff in their sustainability efforts.

To mark the occasion, we’re pulling out the highlight reel and looking back on the last decade of sustainability at the college with our Top 10 List:

  1. 7,882 kgs of campus-grown produce donated to Winnipeg Harvest Grow-A-Row since 2013
  2. 2 geothermal buildings 
  3. 36 students, staff and alumni who’ve showcased their talents at Made-by-RRC Markets
  4. $804,599 in avoided costs since bringing a coordinated effort to print reduction in 2015
  5. 18 years of operating an on-site compost program at the Notre Dame Campus
  6. 5 consecutive gold-medal finishes in the Commuter Challenge
  7. 93 indoor bike parking spots as part of our Sustainable Transportation Program (with more planned for the Innovation Centre)
  8. 86% of staff and faculty who believe sustainability should be a priority in college operations
  9. 6 EV charging stations
  10. 1 College community dedicated to advancing sustainability in operations, academics, research and community connections

We want to sincerely thank all the staff and faculty who have been a part of this journey. Sustainability is about embracing innovation, taking risks and challenging the status quo. We’re so thankful to work with a college community that embodies sustainability values and is committed to making a difference. So here’s to the last 10 years (we say as we raise a mug of Fairtrade coffee)… we’re looking forward to working with all of you over the next decade. Cheers!

Commuter Challenge 2020

June 2, 2020

Commuter Challenge is a national event bringing attention to the significance of transportation, emissions on our environment, and highlights the physical and mental benefits of active transportation.

While most are adjusting to a new commute (a telecommute) – we can all participate in this annual event in a new way! From May 31- June 6, while you’re logging your telecommuting we challenge you to re-connect with your commute. This includes a walking Teams meeting, a coffee break bike ride, or even ‘re-creating your commute’ by cycling around your neighborhood before your workday begins. All in all, there are many benefits to sustainable commuting, and being active is important for both our mental and physical health.

A great time for fresh air

All you need to do is register here, log your telecommute and any other activity during the week. Not only are there workplace prizes at the end of this Challenge, we are also providing daily individual participant prizes. Every day during commuter challenge there will be a draw for a participating individual! We will be cycling to deliver a daily prize including our very own Creekside honey to sweeten your recipes, a Sustainability Contigo thermos to keep your coffee warm and spill-free in your home office, and a gift card to a St.Leon’s Garden for all your local treat and planting desires!

For more information and wellness tips on setting goals to continue active and sustainable transportation our Mental Health Coordinator, Breanna has provided the following tips:

Before setting a goal, take some time to think about how you are doing right now. Are you managing well and looking for an extra challenge? Or are you just barely fulfilling your current responsibilities while feeling overwhelmed? Understanding how you are currently managing will help you determine what you truly need right now.

Think about what your whole self needs. Consider your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual self when setting a goal. What action(s) would support your whole self?

A challenge doesn’t need to be something new and big. It can be something you’ve done in the past and lost touch with. And it can be a daily action that feels small.

Engaging in a daily challenge can be good for your mental health. This is especially true if the daily task is just challenging enough without being unreasonable and it fits with your personal values. Fulfilling a daily goal, tracking it, and sharing success with others can help one feel a sense of control, satisfaction, and self-esteem.

Try to set an “approach goal” versus an “avoidance goal”. An avoidance goal is where you commit to taking something away (like driving a car) whereas an approach goal is where you commit to doing something satisfying (like walking around the block at lunchtime). Approach goals lead to a greater sense of purpose, satisfaction, and wellbeing.

We look forward to seeing you in action, logging your commutes this week, and carrying these tips forward into your future goal setting for safe, active, and sustainable commuting. Happy Commuter Challenge everyone!

A Row Here, A Row There, Grow-A-Row With Us From Anywhere!

May 29, 2020

The sunshine is here to stay, and our Grounds team is getting busy in the College’s 30 x 60 ft garden to participate in Winnipeg Harvest’s Grow- A-Row for the 7th year. While last harvest we broke our RRC donation record with 4,270 lbs of carrots, beets, onions, pumpkins and potatoes to support Winnipeggers in need, this year we invite YOU to join us from home to beat our record.

The benefits of growing your own food goes far beyond “I grew that!” pride. Growing, cultivating, and preserving your own food is a healthy hobby with many advantages for you, your family and the community. You can introduce little ones to a garden classroom, your grocery list decreases, and you have access to food right in your own backyard. This is what the Grow-A-Row initiative is all about. Dating back to 1986, when Ron and Eunice O’Donovan produced more potatoes in their backyard garden than they could consume, they donated to Winnipeg Harvest and encouraged friends and neighbours to do the same. Since then, Grow-A-Row has yielded millions of pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables supporting the food security initiatives within our greater community.

Our Zero Waste Coordinator, Amanda, ready to begin her planting.

This year our Grounds team will be planting beets, onions, potatoes, pumpkins, and various herbs and we invite all of you to grow- a-row and add your bounty to the College’s donation. Sign-up to tell us what you’re planting and we’ll connect at harvest time!

To make the most out of this planting season Groundskeeper, Brady Barron has some quick tips to make your home garden a success!

When Planting in Apartments

Most herbs are easy to grow inside. Position your plants on a south-facing windowsill and watch them take off! Easy to grow herbs include basil, chervil, chives, rosemary, oregano, parsley, sage, and thyme. These herbs will surprise you in how quickly they flourish and how flavorful they are in countless recipes.

When Planting a Garden

Location is key. Overhead structures like buildings or large trees can drastically reduce needed light for your plants. Avoid areas near tree roots as they will be a large consumer of the water you apply. Choose an area with good drainage so plants don’t sit in water and develop diseases.

Spacing is essential. Look for plant spacing information on seed packages and plant labels… and follow it! Crowded plants compete for light, water and nutrients. Ample spacing between rows or groupings makes gardening easier by giving you room to weed and harvest.

Remember that you can have fun and be unique with creating your garden! Make your garden any shape to take advantage of light and space you have.

When Sourcing Seeds

A lot of people purchase greenhouse started plants and pay a premium for them. Purchasing seed can be very cost-effective and produce quite well. You can get seeds pretty much everywhere – your local greenhouse is a great place to start. RRC Grounds purchases seeds at T&T seeds. “We find that they have pretty much everything you could ask for!”, says Brady.

Now that you have our notes it’s time to turnip the beet, get your garden gloves on and sign-up to be a part of this year’s Grow-A-Row!

We can’t wait to see your garden grow. For questions and to share your gardening accomplishments, contact sustainability@rrc.ca

Staying Connected this Earth Day

April 21, 2020

Our physical office may be closed, but we’re still here, safe and sound, with our bikes, plants, and pets keeping us company in our home offices. While Earth Day looks different this year, we’re reflecting on some amazing milestones, events, and initiatives we’ve celebrated at the College over the past year.

From Grow-A-Row, a community partnership with Winnipeg Harvest, we planted, grew, and donated a record-breaking 4,270 lbs. of produce from our Notre Dame Campus garden.

During the holidays, we powered down our offices and supported College gardens by composting our pumpkins and Christmas trees.

By implementing sustainable printing tools and initiatives we cut our College-wide printing by more than 815,000 pages – that’s equivalent to saving 68 trees!

We installed 4 real-time transit information screens across our campuses to provide a better transit experience for so many of our students and staff.

Our rooftop bees pollinated College gardens and surrounding neighbourhoods and yielded 238 jars of sweet honey.

Our ‘Made by RRC’ Winter Market welcomed more than 30 staff, student, and alumni makers who showcased their amazing talents.

Pumpkin Compost at Halloween

Honey Extraction from Rooftop Hives

Beets grown for Grow-A-Row

Pillow from Toba Folk at the Made by RRC Market

This past trip around the sun has brought us together in so many ways. We miss you and can’t wait to see you again soon. To explore Earth Day digitally check out the RRC library’s environmental online collection and tune-in to Earth Day Live.

‘Tis the Season…al Shutdown Office Challenge!

December 6, 2019

Portage Campus Staff with the Seasonal Shutdown Office Challenge poster at their catered coffee break.

The Portage Campus was one of the winning offices in 2018.

The December break is fast approaching but before you flip the switch to holiday mode, don’t forget to flip the off switches at the office and give our College’s electronic equipment and appliances a much-needed break too.

Red River College will be closed from December 24 at noon to January 2. During this time our buildings will go into “Un-Occupied Mode” which means lower temperatures, and less energy consumption. But we need your help! By participating in the Seasonal Shutdown Office Challenge your actions will help reduce the environmental and financial impacts of our energy use this break. Plus… by participating you could win a catered coffee break for your office (find out how to enter below).

Help us make sure that Rudolph’s nose is the only thing shining over RRC this holiday season with these three simple steps:

Red checkmark in a box
1. DISPOSE OF PERISHABLES

Remove perishables and clean fridges by December 24, 2019

Note: Offices at NDC will not be cleaned during the break. Please place all garbage in the hallways by 11 am on Dec 24th to make sure it is picked up before the the campus is closed.

Red checkmark in a box
2. TURN OFF ELECTRONICS & UNPLUG APPLIANCES NOT IN USE

Where it is safe and possible to do so. Please leave printers ON, they’ll go into energy saving mode on their own.

Red checkmark in a box
3. TURN OFF LIGHTS

Take the Seasonal Shutdown Office Challenge and Win!

Library staffing around a boardroom table holding up their reusable coffee mugs.

The Library was one of the winning offices in 2018.

Before you dash away into the night this holiday, recruit your colleagues to participate in the Seasonal Shutdown Office Challenge. We’ve made a list and checked it twice, all you have to do is fill it out and shutdown unnecessary lights and equipment before you leave for the break and you will be entered to win 1 of 3 catered coffee breaks for your office!

Complete the Checklist Here

 

  • What is an office? An office can be one person or multiple people in one office space, or across many offices, as long as you are in the same department. You can even challenge other offices within your department to participate as well. Please have just one person per office complete the checklist.
  • When can I fill in the form? You can submit the form before December 24 as a pledge to do these actions. Anyone who submits a form before December 23 will receive a reminder email on December 24. You can also fill out the form anytime between December 24 and noon on January 3, 2019.
  • Having trouble with the form? Contact Whitney for help.
  • The more, the merrier! Recruit participants and help conserve energy at the College by printing and posting Seasonal Shutdown downloadable poster in an office common area.

SMALL ACTIONS CAN HAVE BIG IMPACTS

Institutional Analyis and Planning Staff in their office with the Seasonal Shutdown poster

Institutional Analysis and Planning was one of the winning offices in 2018.

You might think that the few items in your office aren’t going to make much of a difference if they’re shutdown or unplugged for 11 days, but consider this: in the 2018 College-wide plug load inventory of more than 500 staff offices and common areas,  we counted nearly 3,000 personal electronic items (i.e. computers, monitors, speakers, etc.), almost 600 personal appliances (refrigerators, microwaves, etc.), and over 450 lightswitches. That’s a lot of potential for unnecessary energy consumption, either through leaving items and lights on, or through standby (phantom) power that many electronic items draw even when turned off.

MORE SHUTDOWN TIPS

  • Lab equipment: Together with your colleagues identify equipment that can be safely turned off, unplugged, or placed in standby mode over the break.
  • Don’t forget to turn off lights and shutdown projectors and AV equipment in any meeting rooms or classrooms that you use.
  • Do a department walk-through to ensure valuables are secured and cabinets are locked.
  • Activate alarms if applicable before you leave.
  • Set yourself a reminder in your calendar or on your phone (or even on a sticky note on the door) to remember to do your seasonal shutdown checklist before you leave.
  • Set yourself a reminder for when you return from holidays to plug needed items in or turn them on.
  • Don’t forget to water plants and feed and water vermicomposting worms!

HAVE A HAPPY AND SAFE HOLIDAY!

2nd Annual Made by RRC Winter Market Nov. 28

November 8, 2019

Just hear those RRC bells jingling, ring-ting-tingling, too. Come on it’s lovely weather for a Winter Market with you!

It’s time for our 2nd Annual Made by RRC Winter Market! We’re always so impressed by the talent and creativity by our staff, students and alumni, and are excited to announce another winter market of amazing local vendors that all have connections to the College (by being current students and staff, or College alumni). Come on by, get some of your holiday shopping done, and support RRC talent!

When: Thursday, November 28th 10:00 am – 1:30 pm
Where: Library Hallway – Notre Dame Campus (2055 Notre Dame Avenue)
RSVP

Read More →

Fall into Sustainability

October 20, 2019

 While the leaves are changing with every season so is sustainability. There are so many colours of sustainability and places to find where it may be. To share everything Red River College is growing, changing, and creating to be a sustainable campus, we have a map for you! Read More →

Grow a Row 2019- A Record to Beet!

October 18, 2019

The last days of autumn fell quickly and just before the snow landed, ACC baking students joined our Grounds Department to assist with this year’s Grow-A-Row harvest. Led by Grounds Gardener Shivcharan Sandhu, the team broke the RRC record with 4,270lbs of carrots, beets, onions, pumpkins and potatoes. Read More →