Zeroing in on Zero Waste Week

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This week, from March 9 to 13, Laurier’s Sustainability Office is hosting the second annual Zero Waste Week.

“Zero Waste Week is essentially a campaign to help get students and staff and, in general, the Laurier community, to think a little bit more about shifting towards a more low waste or zero waste lifestyle,” said Katarina Milicic, Outreach and Program Coordinator at Laurier’s Sustainability Office.

Those who choose to go “zero waste” often focus on reducing, reusing and preventing waste as much as possible — and this campaign seeks to engage participants in further sustainable practices.

“This year’s campaign we have a few different themes based on different areas that you could be implementing a zero waste lifestyle… and then we also have essentially a zero waste 101 for people who are starting to think a little bit more about where to even get started.”

On Monday, students were able to attend a “Zero Waste 101” session, where they were introduced to zero waste lifestyles. On Tuesday, Zero Waste Week moved to the Brantford campus, where students could attend a DIY beeswax wrap workshop.

This Wednesday, a clothing swap is taking place in the concourse, where students can trade their clothing and small household items in an effort to reduce textile waste. On Thursday, students can register for further events, including a personal care and sewing workshop.

To end the Zero Waste campaign on Friday, the Sustainability Office is soft-launching their permanent freestore — located in the basement of 232 King St. — where students can drop in and pick up anything they need for free.

Milicic explained that while Waste Reduction Week in Canada is typically held in late October, choosing to host Laurier’s Zero Waste Week during March was a strategic decision.

“This campaign was run in March just to get students to think a little bit more about zero waste in the second semester as opposed to kind of being, you know, inundated with a whole bunch of things at the start of the school year. So, I think that was strategic, to place it in March.”

For those who are curious to see how much waste they produce each week, the Sustainability Office is hosting the Zero Waste Challenge, wherein students can make an effort to keep a small mason jar as empty as possible with their waste use, excluding compost and recycling.

Those who compete are eligible to be entered in a prize draw with gift cards and bundles from various sustainable companies in the region, such as Zero Waste Bulk, Full Circle Foods and Copper Branch.

“The reasoning that this zero waste campaign kind of started last year from my assumption, is that we’d just been seeing a growing trend, even in social media and overall [of] people kind of moving towards this culture where we’re not using as much plastics or things that at least can’t be recycled or composted,” Milicic said.

“But in general it just really started, I think, from trends — more people talking about it, and now this expectation that we shouldn’t have single-use plastics kind of being used at the university and in general in people’s daily lives.”

For those who are looking to get started in waste reduction efforts, starting small is the best method.

“I would say the first thing is to kind of not think about it as shifting your entire life, every single thing towards zero waste. It’s really about starting simple and starting really basic in the things that you have the most impact or you could have the most impact in,” said Milicic.

“That could be something like clothing that could be a huge part of your life, where you might want to think about doing more thrift or second hand shopping if you love to shop … that would be the biggest thing — to get students to start thinking about what is one particular area that you can get started on.”

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