Alexander College maintains a commitment to Green initiatives across its campuses and is continually, actively seeking to inform and put into practice sustainable alternatives for our students, staff and faculty. Because of the demographics of our school being predominantly international in nature (with 85% of our student body coming from outside of North America), we recognize the importance of educating our incoming students on environmental responsibility as the majority of them come to Burnaby with very different interpretations of what Green can mean.
As such, we have a Green Committee whose job it is to ensure that we are taking as many steps as possible towards making our practices more sustainable. Its core members are made up of staff Olivia Gordon, Scott Marsden, Barbara Moon, and Mitra Panahi but there are many others involved including students.
In the last year alone we have achieved many goals in advancing these initiatives both inside and outside the campus. We acquired new cross campus sorting bins for recycling, compost and trash, staffed by round the clock student volunteers in the first week of their launch to explain the importance of these efforts and teaching students (and sometimes staff) how to sort out their refuse in order to make environmentally sound choices – there were more than 60 people involved in this initiative. The bins themselves are a good start, but it’s the education that really helps make the practice take root as part of an environmentally conscious culture at AC.
With a wide variety of campus events occurring involving lunches and food, we’ve also built into our practice all compostable plates and cutlery, drawing attention to this fact at every available opportunity for our students. Our staff events are similar in nature, in that we employ only reusable plates and cutlery, hand washing them so as not to waste water whenever possible – we also created and delivered presentations to promote this sustainable mentality as well so that people would take these ideas home with them. We hold Green staff and student events as well, including viewings of Planet Earth in our student lounge and launching of in house produced video series on how to best put a Green mindset into motion.
Alexander has been looking as well at how, as an educational institution, we can reduce our paper consumption in our classrooms and across our campuses. To this end we have moved all of our student surveys and course evaluations to an online format, employing our Student Success representatives to administer our surveys using cellphones to make them paperless.
Other events inside the school over the past year alone have been planting initiatives using compostable egg cartons and upcycling events for students and staff (for example, at Christmas time offering workshops on how to turn light bulbs into ornaments). We are currently developing plans for an Alexander College community garden to be run on our patios by our students.
Offsite, our Green Committee has been reaching into the community with its first beach cleanup initiative late last year in English Bay for the CoV initiative Keep Vancouver Spectacular, which was highly successful with students and staff coming out to help improve the environment in a very practical, hands on way.
We are constantly looking for more of these initiatives where we can mobilize our staff and our students to contribute in positive ways to the environment locally, and in Burnaby particular, where AC calls home.
Greening our campus is, fundamentally, about greening our students. Since our student body is predominantly international, many will take these ideas home with them, teach others and inspire them to create change in their own communities abroad. As educators, we understand that the best way to spread a Green mentality is to plant the concepts of environmentalism in the minds of our youth knowing these will take root and grow far away from us, in turn allowing our students to one day sow their own seeds of environmental change.