Laurier student helps turn old mattress toppers into sustainable pet beds

Graphic by Madeline McInnis

When Brooke Dietrich was hired at the Laurier Sustainability Office for a summer student position, her first task was to make use of 30 foam mattress toppers that could not be recycled from the university’s Move Out Program, and would have ended up in landfills.

Dietrich reached out to many people associated with Laurier, but unfortunately, she did not have much luck.

“A lot of local community partners unfortunately didn’t have a need to take them for hygienic reasons, so they were kind of left up to us,” Dietrich said.

With no uses to be recycled within the school or the community, Dietrich used her network to find a use for the foam that would otherwise pollute the planet further.

As she continued her search for a purpose for these mattresses, Dietrich said “I reached out to friends asking if they had any uses, and I actually end[ed] up asking my Facebook friends if they had any ideas, and somebody commented about Ground Search and Rescue KW.”

“I messaged them and they said they would be more than happy to take the mattresses, and they told me what they were going to be turning it into, which was pet beds for dogs and cats that were rescued off of the streets.”

Ground Search and Rescue is an active protocol which means to look for missing persons, but the organization that has many branches including one in the region, used the donated toppers to create the beds for missing pets who were awaiting being reunited with their owners once again.

“We donated so many, actually, that they ended up sending some out to Nova Scotia which is amazing,” Dietrich said, on her accomplishment of not only benefitting the environment but also benefitting pets that are temporarily homeless.

“Having that collaborative experience with staff, faculty and students, it’s incredible to see how we can all work together for the betterment of our school.”

As for Dietrich, her involvement at Laurier does not stop when the summer does.
    She aims to continue to make the practices at Laurier more sustainable.

“I have learned so much over the course of the summer on my impact on other people and the environment, but also Laurier’s impact on other people, the environment and students,” Dietrich said.

“Having that collaborative experience with staff, faculty and students, it’s incredible to see how we can all work together for the betterment of our school,” Dietrich said.

Dietrich is also a member of residence life, and will make an effort to ensure her students are sustainable as well.

“I’m actually going to be the Diversity and Equity rep for the First Year Leadership Project, so I’m really excited about it.”

“I won’t be working with the Sustainability Office in that capacity, however they have given me the opportunity to pilot a composting project on my floor,” Dietrich said.

“We did just get the OK to go ahead with that so I’m going to be trying out ways to kind of help make things a little bit more eco-friendly and reduce our waste.”

“There are provincial by-laws we have to follow, and so we have to reduce our contamination rates by 70 per cent.”

Hopefully, her help teaching first years how to reduce waste will be passed down to many more students to make Laurier’s campus more eco-friendly.

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