As of February 6, a permanent composting program will be available to students, faculty and staff throughout Desmarais. Every second recycling station, on every floor, will be outfitted with a compost bin so that organic waste like apple cores and banana peels (and more ) will now be reclaimed sustainably every day. Since the Desmarais Building currently produces about 4% of the University of Ottawa’s waste, there’s certainly room to cut back on that figure.

The composting program is being launched as part of RecycleMania 2012, a friendly eight-week waste- diversion competition between February 6 and April 2 where universities and colleges across North America compete to produce the least amount of waste possible. Over the past few years, the University of Ottawa has fared extremely well among competing Canadian postsecondary institutions, taking first place three years in a row.

“The Faculty of Social Sciences, as uOttawa’s largest faculty, is well placed to promote sustainable behaviours,” says dean Marcel Mérette. “Because we specialize in relationships between people, groups, systems and spaces, we have an important role to play in ensuring that our programs, as well as our facilities, promote sustainable behaviours while encouraging awareness, in our students, faculty and staff, of our interdependent nature and mutual responsibility as stewards of the environment.”

The Telfer School of Management is equally pleased about this joint effort’s potential for cutting the building’s waste line. Indeed, both faculties are now able to provide, in addition to their blue and black box recycling programs, yet another means for students and staff to help the environment daily—and it’s as easy as thinking before throwing anything out.

“At the Telfer School, we raise awareness of social responsibility and sustainability at the organizational level in our courses and programs. RecycleMania 2012 provides a great opportunity for our students, professors and members of our administrative staff to act responsibly towards the environment,” says dean François Julien. “Most of us individually already take concrete yet simple actions such as throwing organic waste in compost bins at home, and I’m delighted that we will now provide an environment that will allow all tenants of the Desmarais Building to extend this socially responsible behaviour to their work place. The Telfer School is highly supportive of this initiative.”

Brigitte Morin, the recycling coordinator at the uOttawa Office for Campus Sustainability, is also enthused by the collaborative effort of the two faculties. The timing of the initiative couldn’t be better given that RecycleMania 2012 is upon us! “I’m very excited that Telfer and the Faculty of Social Sciences have come together to participate in RecycleMania. It’s so inspiring to have groups that not only care about their own footprint, but who are also working with their students to create environmental awareness and sustainable habits.”

Discipline and dedication, however, are the keys to attaining any goal, and they must come in the form of student and staff participation if the Desmarais Building is to lose waste.

Over the past few years, the University of Ottawa has come out as the Canadian winner in the RecycleMania competition. With many new waste-diversion initiatives in place for 2012, including composting at Desmarais, our university can fare even better in its overall waste-reduction efforts and make 2012 a year of campus-wide ecological responsibility.

Photo: Telfer Assistant Dean, External Relations, Alain Doucet; Brigitte Morin,Waste Diversion Coordinator at the Office of Sustainability and the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Marcel Mérette.