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Commuter Challenge – the results are in!

June 27, 2013

The results are in, and Manitoba has again placed first in the country for the Commuter Challenge.

At the workplace level, Red River College received a 2nd place finish, coming in behind the Assiniboine Credit Union (ACU). Next year it’s “game on” between ACU and RRC as they nudged us out of a first place finish by a mere 18 people!

Our second place finish is still sweet as we achieved record participation levels with 159 College employees who bused, biked, carpooled and teleworked during the challenge week. That’s an unprecedented participation rate of 28%. This is no small feat, as no other educational institution in Manitoba surpassed the 15% participation threshold. The Universities of Manitoba and Winnipeg had participation rates of 2.9% and 8.3% respectively. Congratulations Team RRC! Read all the local results here.

I want to extend an extra “high five” to those staff who led the pack during the Commuter Challenge. Collectively these staff travelled 6634 km. and avoided producing 1028 kg. of GHG.

Walkers: Trilby, Zaheer Ahmad, Tara Luchuck, Aynsley, Debbie Simpson, Dennie Cormack

Carpoolers: Lorelei Henry, Elly Acton, Gail Emms, Deb Blower, Dennie Cormack, Trilby, Debbie Simpson and Sherrie Cooke

Cyclists: Mike Poitras, James Voth, Gordon Lee, Greg Dyck, Gord Bone

Transit takers: Zaheer Ahmad, Trilby, Norlan Page, Staphnie Chuhai, Petra Martel

Telecommuters: Peter Denton, Eva Brown, Deb Blower, Mike Arsenault

Finally congratulations to our prize winners: Pam Grimshaw who won a bike pannier for being one of the first 100 to register for the Commuter Challenge and John Mark Allen who won the coveted custom-built bike / extreme bike makeover (valued at $600) from Natural Cycle!

It was great seeing the spirit of RRC come to life in support of the challenge and seeing so many new people participating, getting active and helping the planet.

See you all next year!

My Commuter Challenge Success Story

June 6, 2013


Sue Hayduk – RRC Sustainability Coordinator

Hi everyone. Last week I confessed that I had never commuted to work by bike. I’m pleased to let you know that I succeeded in my commuter challenge and biked to work!  I found that once I got on my bike and started riding, any fear I had at the outset melted away. I prepared by using the City of Winnipeg’s 2013 Cycling Map to plan my bike route and took note of the bike lanes or wider roadways on my drive home. What really made the difference was mapping my route on Google Maps using the bike filter. I was surprised to see that the commute was only 9 km. I thought, “I can do that”, and, well, I did!  The savings to the environment were also significant. I saved 1 litre of fuel and avoided 1.87 kg of CO2 from going into the atmosphere!

This experience really pushed my comfort zone – not only to bike comfortably on the road, but to take the time to prepare and change the way I do something every day. I am really glad I took the Commuter Challenge and I can now see myself riding my bike to work more often!

I hope my story encourages those RRC participants who have registered for the Commuter Challenge but have not yet logged their sustainable commute. You can do it – Go Team RRC!

Commuter Challenge: Confessions of a sustainability coordinator

May 28, 2013

CC poster

I know that driving alone to work is not a sustainable mode of commuting, yet day after day I drive to work. I decided that I needed to make a change, and the Commuter Challenge is helping motivate me to explore more active, sustainable commuting options.

I checked out four ways to gear up for the Commuter Challenge and decided the best fit for me was to bike to work at least one day during that week. So this past weekend, I took my first steps, and took my bike out of the garage, gave it a little tune up and planned my bike route to the College.

Over the next few days I will train to complete the 25 km route. Committing to trying a sustainable way of commuting is what the Commuter Challenge is about.  I hope you will join me in the challenge by registering, and making a commitment to bus, walk, cycle, carpool or telecommute to and from work at least once from June 2- 8, 2013.

How to gear up for the Commuter Challenge:

  • Use to find a carpool partner (FREE matching service June 1-30)
  • Pull your bike out of the garage and get it road ready.
  • Use Navigo, Bustext, and Telebus find your most convenient transit route.
  • Ask if you can work from home.

Register: get active, help the planet, reduce your CO2 emissions and win great prizes!

By participating in the Commuter Challenge you support Canadian Environment Week, and promote personal, environmental and community health across Canada. For more information contact Sue Hayduk, your Commuter Challenge workplace coordinator.

Organic Lawn Care – Create a beautiful lawn naturally!

April 25, 2013

Jennifer Berger from the Manitoba Eco-Network gave a great presentation about the many benefits of  Organic Lawn Care. She reminded us to treat our lawn like a natural system, one that needs the right balance of nutrients to live and grow well. Along with the many reasons why we should eliminate chemicals from our lawns, she shared some great tips and tricks on how to properly aerate, mow and seed our lawns to out-compete weeds, and offered some advice on other sustainable garden-like alternatives to lawns.

Some of the highlights from the session were:

  • You can test the health of your lawn using a “soil nutrient kit” available at most garden stores.
  • Seeding in the fall is the best way to reclaim your lawn from weeds or other undesirable plants.
  • Put a Frisbee on your lawn when you water – when it’s full then you’ll know it’s well- watered.

You can watch the presentation here, or for more information on organic lawn care contact the Manitoba Eco-Network.

On April 22, we want your E-Waste!

April 17, 2013

A peek at the College’s e-waste stockpile. Not to worry, it will all be recycled.

Do you have old, broken or unused electronic equipment or small appliances sitting at home or in your office collecting dust and being as useless as a chocolate teapot? If so, we want it!

E-waste, short for electronic waste, refers to all waste that comes from or is caused by electronics. Items like old computers, phones, and radios and televisions, media waste (CDs and floppy disks) and light bulbs are all e-waste.

Disposal of these items is a growing concern, because of the health and environmental hazards contained within the electronic components themselves.  Materials like lead and mercury can leach out into the ground water, soil and air if not properly disposed. There are also several non-renewable resources – like tin, nickel, zinc, aluminum, copper –  that can be recovered and reused from these items.

In Canada, the volume of e-waste is staggering. As Canadians we discard 140,000 tonnes of computer equipment, phones, televisions, stereos, and small home appliances each year. That’ s enough to fill 300 Olympic sized swimming pools.

The good news is that these items don’t need to take a dead-end trip to the landfill. There are many e-waste recycling centres across Canada and here in Winnipeg.

On April 22, as part of Red River College’s State of Sustainability and Earth Day celebration, we’re holding an e-waste blitz. All students and staff are invited to drop off your e-waste from work and home.

Here are the details:

Where                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Notre Dame Campus, Library Hallway or Roblin Centre, William Building, near Print Services

When                                                                                                                                                                                                                Between 11:00am – 2:00pm

What                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Items like, fluorescent light bulbs, microwaves, TVs, CDs, batteries, printers, VHS tapes, floppy and hard disks and others can be dropped off.

To keep this event manageable, please only bring what you can carry. And staff, if you are disposing of College property please record its asset information beforehand.

All e-waste collected will be sent to Responsible Electronics Recycling for proper end-of-life recycling.

For more information contact Sustainability Coordinator Sue Hayduk,

State of Sustainability – Come One, Come All!

April 15, 2013

Even though it feels like winter, spring has sprung and Earth Day is right around the corner. To celebrate this global environmental event, Red River College is holding our 3rd annual State of Sustainability. All students, faculty, staff, friends and neighbours are welcome to join us. We hope to see you there!

Earth Day 

Monday, April 22nd, Notre Dame Campus, Library Hallway, 11:30am – 1:30pm.

For more information contact RRC’s Manager of Sustainability, Sara MacArthur (

Green Prosperity Act consultation – We invited. You attended!

April 2, 2013

RRC’s Green Prosperity Act consultation

A big “thanks!” goes out to all of the sustainably-minded folks at Red River College who took time out of their day to share their views on the Province of Manitoba’s draft sustainability legislation – the Green Prosperity Act. Since legislation can be so far removed from our day-to-day lives it’s easy to focus on more immediate priorities at work and at home. This new act is important to all Manitobans though as it sets the social, economic and environmental stage from which sustainability policies, agreements, plans and milestones will be formed.

The Sustainability Office held two consultations during the month of March. We used the biggest Post-It notes we could find to gather comments and suggestions from staff at Notre Dame and Exchange District Campuses. Some of our comments are:

  • The proposed title [Green Prosperity Act] does not reflect the balanced and interrelated pillars of sustainability. “Green” portrays a general sense of being environmentally friendly and lacks any benchmark or measurement.
  • Reporting on sustainability progress needs to be timely and transparent. Appropriate timeframes for reporting will vary by target/ initiative/ plan, but they should be described.

The College’s submission can be found here. And if you’re really wonkish, head over to the Manitoba Eco-Network and check out the submissions from other groups and individuals.

We’ll provide updates on the development of the act as they become available.

How are you powering down for Earth Hour?

March 22, 2013

On Saturday March 23 from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm., Red River College will be powering down for Earth Hour. By participating in Earth Hour the College will conserve approximately 2,000 KwH of electricity… enough to power a Winnipeg home for more than two months!

The Sustainability Office reminds you to do your part to celebrate Earth Hour – at work and at home. At work, before you leave for the weekend, remember to turn off office lights and shut down your workstations. At home, celebrate Earth Hour by turning your lights out, taking a moonlit stroll or having dinner by candlelight.

Above: Sue Hayduk, Sustainability Coordinator powers down for Earth Hour!

Help us celebrate Earth Hour, the largest movement for the planet in human history, spanning 7,000 cities, 152 countries with a digital reach of 200 million.

Save $$$ and energy in your home

March 21, 2013

In our second Sustainability Speaker Series, Michael Lee from Manitoba Hydro shared some great tips on how to save $$$ and energy in your home.

Michael provided lots of great information, including:

  • How to order a FREE water and energy saver kit for your home.
  • How to read your Manitoba Hydro bill.
  • How to save money with LOW or NO cost energy saving tips.

To learn more energy saving tricks and tips and how to qualify for the Power Smart and PAYS Financing programs check out his presentation here.

What’s next:

Watch for information on the next Sustainability Speaker Series presentation coming May 14th. Food Matters Manitoba will be on campus to talk about local food, food security and sustainability.

A Conversation on Legislation (it’s more interesting than it sounds – promise)

February 25, 2013

Last year the Province of Manitoba launched TomorrowNow – Manitoba’s Green Plan. This eight-year strategic plan sets out how the Province will advance the social, economic and environmental pillars of sustainability.

The Province is also developing new legislation to support the plan and replace the existing Sustainable Development Act. Tentatively titled the Green Prosperity Act, the new Act will define government’s goals and link all current and future activities and legislation related to environmental sustainability.

The Province has created a consultation process to seek organizational and individual input in shaping the Act. Because of the College’s commitment to sustainability and the important role we play in Manitoba’s economy, Red River College will be submitting feedback on the proposed legislation… and we want your help!

A Conversation on Legislation” will be held on:

Wednesday, March 6th from 9:00am – 3:00pm in FM31 (Notre Dame Campus)

Friday, March 8th from 12:00pm – 4:00pm in W411 (Roblin Centre)

Hosted by the Sustainability Office, we’ll be gathering staff input using the white board, flip charts and other tools. There’s no need to register for these sessions, just pop by when you have a chance. All supporting documentation is hyperlinked in this post, but even if you don’t have time to review the info, don’t let that keep you from coming by and giving your two-cents. Information gathered from these sessions will be combined to form the College’s submission. Let’s have a conversation… about legislation!

If you can’t attend a session but want to give input, please contact Sara MacArthur ( Manager of Sustainability.