Wilfrid Laurier urging students to live more sustainably on campus

Staff at Wilfrid Laurier University are trying to get students to think differently about sustainability practices on campus.

'Ask yourself, do you need this?' says Tyler Plante, with the Laurier's sustainability office

Wilfrid Laurier University pushing for students to use less and recycle more. (GatorEG/Wikipedia)

As students prepare to return to school in September, staff at Wilfrid Laurier University are already trying to get them to do more when it comes to living sustainability on campus.

According to the university, the problem is not what students bring to campus at the beginning of the term, but what they do there after they arrive, like regularly buying bottled water. 

"[It's] generating waste where they don't need to generate waste," Tyler Plante, with the Laurier's sustainability office, told CBC K-W.

The school conducts annual waste audits, and a March 2018 review found that plastic takeout containers and coffee cups were among the highest on the list of contaminants.

Another major culprit was food waste, which Plante said can be easily dealt with, even without green bins.

"A little hack that I would suggest to any students is get a paper bag [and] stick your green waste in the freezer," said Plante.

Laurier sustainability officer says students can freeze green waste until it can be taken over to campus organic waste stations. (Getty Images)

That way students can bring their frozen food waste to any of the organic waste stations on campus at their convenience.

Why all the waste?

Lazaridis School of Business marketing professor Kalyani Menon says a big part of the problem stems from a desire to follow trends, as well as a general attitude of consumerism among students.

"There's also the fact that the way things are manufactured these days, they don't last that long," she told CBC K-W. 

Menon said that for the most part, students are invested in sustainability on paper, but that the real challenge is in closing the gap between their concerns and their habits.

For that, Plante says the best place to start is "just to reduce."

"Ask yourself, do you need this," he said.

He also suggested bringing your own Tupperware to restaurants, making reusable meal kits, having reusable water bottles and coffee mugs, as well as thrift shopping.

Plante's office is also piloting an initiative this September for a free, on-campus store. 

The store would have used household items, textiles, clothing and books, all previously belonging to other students. The items would be free for all who want to shop.