Students for sustainability

Students in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources are taking action to make the University of Saskatchewan campus and Saskatoon community more sustainable.

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ENVS 401 students: (left to right) Jenn Nguyen, Natasha Hirschfeld, Megan Coverdale, Brooke Anderson, Courtney Clarke and Leah Dueck


In Environment and Sustainability 401 (Sustainability in Action) students are tasked with taking a hands-on approach to sustainability.
 
“This is an open-inquiry experiential-learning class,” said Colin Laroque, one of the professors for ENVS 401.  “We ask the students to look around them and find what they think is a sustainability issue on campus or in our community, and to take some action to make a change.”
 
One group in the class has worked to get a water bottle filling station installed in the Agriculture Building.
 
“We believe that by installing a water bottle filling station in a high traffic area in this building we can promote the usage of reusable water bottles and decrease the purchasing and usage of non-reusable plastic water bottles to make our building more sustainable,” said Courtney Clarke, a student in the group.
 
“The reason we wanted to do the water bottle filling station was to improve accessibility and make it easy to fill water bottles. The regular fountains are not user friendly when it comes to filling water bottles.”
 
Located on the second floor of the Agriculture Building across from the Agriculture Café, the fountain also keeps track of how many water bottles have been filled. 
 
“The tracker creates awareness and demonstrates how the fountain is improving sustainability in the college,” said Megan Coverdale, another student in the group.
 
While not all groups in the class are able to see their ideas become a reality, due to time and budget constraints, Clarke and Coverdale are thrilled their group was able to find a way to make the water bottle station happen. “Persistence definitely paid off,” said Coverdale.
 
After extensive research and pursuing multiple leads with no promise, the group found success with Facilities Management Division on campus who is covering the costs for the water bottle filling station.
 
“We have talked to multiple people to get this project implemented and now FMD has taken our idea and is making it a reality,” said Clarke.
 
To promote the water bottle filling station and sustainable practices to other students, the group organized a launch where they handed out water bottles provided by the Office of Sustainability.
 
“By having this grand opening, we hope to bring awareness to the benefits to using reusable water bottles and spread the word about sustainability on campus,” said Clarke. 

Other student-led projects in the class include looking at how used batteries move through the Agriculture Building, possible implementation of using beet juice in Saskatoon instead of road salts, and sustainable practices for the new hotel being built in the college quarter on campus.  

“We have some wonderful examples of students making a difference,” added Laroque. “In all, some real remarkable projects, thought up, developed and implemented by students.”