Dan Shaw from Green Your Campus

How many times have you found yourself walking across campus and thinking that something is not quite right about your surroundings?

You’d just come from class, learning about the effect of chemical run-off on soils and waterways, and you start to think about the salt under your feet that gets spread every winter. Or, you were almost hit by a car, twice, on your way to the bike rack nearest your first class of the day, and you wished that certain pathways were designed better for cyclists. Or perhaps you’d been scarfing down your lunch before a class, and paused to wonder how much of your cafeteria meal had been grown locally.

I bet that you’ve all thought about some aspect of sustainability on our campus, and that you’ve got an idea or two about how we can do things differently. I know that I do. Thankfully, the Green Team is here to make it happen.

The “Green Your Campus” competition was created by the Trent Green Team, a group of dedicated students who care deeply about the environmental, social and economic sustainability of Trent University. These folks know that, in order to make real change in our world, we have to turn our talk into action. They designed a competition that would encourage Trent students to think critically about how to improve the campus that they spend so much of their time in, and then support the implementation of the winning projects through funding, resources, and a shared passion for change.

Just take last year’s winner Dan Shaw as an example. Shaw was walking to class, just like any other day, and was disappointed to see a big group of trees being cut down for a new construction project. He’d been studying the benefits of natural spaces in an Environmental Psychology class, such as improving the memory and attention capabilities of the people who live, work and study near them. He knew that for these reasons, in addition to the importance of trees for producing oxygen, storing carbon, and providing habitat for wildlife, those trees needed to be replaced.

And that’s where “Green Your Campus” fit in. Shaw submitted a proposal for his idea to plant a new group of trees in a different part of campus to offset the ones that were being lost due to the new development. He explained how his idea fit into the Green Team’s criteria, and most importantly, that it was actually feasible.

On the day of the competition, Shaw’s project was assessed by a team of judges and, after long deliberation, was announced as the winner. The Green Team provided $5,000 in implementation money and, with generous contributions from the Facilities Management Department, today Shaw’s trees are alive and well in their new homes outside of Otonabee College and at the new walkway at the front of Symons Campus. An upcoming article from Shaw will discuss which types were planted and where, as well as more about the benefits of trees.

An idea turns into reality. With a little help from your friendly neighbourhood Green Team, of course. Sound interesting? This year’s competition will be happening on March 11th, 2017. Members of the Green Team will be traveling around to classrooms in the New Year to tell students about it, putting up posters around campus with all the details, and, of course, sharing more sustainability success stories in Arthur.

In the meantime, you can find more information on the Trent Green Your Campus Competition Facebook page or send us an email with questions or comments at trentgreen[email protected]

We’re always happy to have new team members, so if you’d like to get involved in the Green Team we would love to hear from you! Until next time, Trent, stay green.