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UBC Reports | Vol. 46 | No. 20 | December 14, 2000

Volunteers' efforts lessen environmental footprint

Across campus, faculty and staff help colleagues achieve sustainability

Since the early '80s, Katie Eliot has been actively promoting sound environmental practices at work and at home.

She remembers the days when the city's recycling programs were in their early stages during her work with the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC).

These days Eliot is a secretary at UBC's Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies but she maintains an active interest in protecting the environment with her role as a volunteer sustainability co-ordinator.

The co-ordinators help the university's Campus Sustainability Office promote and implement a sustainable community at UBC.

"We really couldn't do it without our sustainability coordinators," says Sean Pander, liaison officer for the Sustainability Office.

"They are our eyes, ears and voices of sustainability within their departments and faculties on campus," says Pander.

Some 100 volunteers help educate the almost 50,000 students, faculty and staff at UBC in environmental responsibility.

To date, there are coordinators in about 80 departments and faculties. They provide their colleagues with information about the environmental impacts of their daily activities. They also help people identify environmentally-friendly alternatives in the workplace.

The coordinators follow a framework for action provided by the Sustainability Office that helps them focus and work step by step to reduce energy use, waste and water use. Coordinators also work with colleagues to reduce the number of single occupant vehicle trips to and from campus.

Every two months there is a topic that the coordinators help promote to their colleagues. For December and January, the topic is waste reduction.

People are encouraged to examine the benefits of buying goods made from recycled content and to look for ways to reduce the amount of paper they use daily.

"It helps to have the focus on one specific issue at a time," says Eliot. "It makes it easier to set goals and measure progress that way."

She says in the past two years that she has been a coordinator, colleagues have told her that they have employed techniques learnt at UBC in their own homes.

"It makes me really happy to be part of a large organization that has committed to reducing its environmental footprint," says Eliot.

For more information on becoming a sustainability volunteer visit www.sustain.ubc.ca, e-mail sustain@interchange.ubc.ca or call 604-822-3270.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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