How well is Mount Allison University doing in achieving its goal of environmental sustainability? Environmental science student Taylor Crosby found the university is making real progress. She reviewed and recommended some changes to the University’s environmental policies and in the process has seen progress in a number of areas.
Mount Allison is reducing its environmental impact by using less water and paper than five years ago and through initiatives like the introduction of recyclable garbage cans that will not end up as landfill once they are too old to be used any longer.
Students conduct the audit review of the environmental policies on a regular cycle, providing valuable paid work experience.
Crosby began the project with numerous questions. What has been happening on campus? What are we doing well and where can things be improved?
“The answers come from many different people on campus,” explains Crosby. “I discovered that the Grounds Policy, for example, is very out-dated because the Facilities Management department has become really environmentally-friendly. They plan their landscaping thoughtfully and they don’t really use pesticides,” says Crosby. The department is continually looking for ways to improve.”
The audit of the environmental policy also included analyzing historic patterns of usage.
“Looking at the data, we are using less paper than we did in 2011 because many things have gone online. We are also using less water than we did at the time of the last audit in 2012. According to Perry Eldridge, from Facilities, they have put in new fixtures like low-flow showerheads, dual-flush toilets, and aeration in water taps, all of which save water.”
Some innovations have long-term benefits, like the new garbage bins on campus, which are 97 per cent recyclable. When they become damaged they can be melted down to make a new product instead of going in a landfill.
However, Crosby says, there is room for improvement. She realized the University was not measuring all that could be measured to keep track of paper usage and few people know that the policy even exists.
“One of my recommendations was a way to keep track of these things and to raise awareness of the policy.”
Crosby has been involved in a number of other environmental-related initiatives on campus. She is head eco rep; reps monitor buildings to improve environmental efficiency, and as President of the student group Eco Action, she introduced the Lettuce Eat program, which provides a free nutritious meal for 70 to 100 people. She is also worked in her professor’s lab this past summer.
Crosby came to Mount Allison and took environmental science because the students and professors were excited about what they were doing.
"I want to be excited about what I am doing and be somewhere where people have a light in their eyes when they are talking about their school.”