March 21, 2018
Sustainability Fair kicks off at Newnham Campus
Event showcases sustainability initiatives at Seneca
President David Agnew jokingly compared setting up Seneca’s Environmental Sustainability Committee to “going for a dental operation.”
“Once you set it up, you’ll feel the pressure,” he said at the opening ceremony of the first-ever Sustainability Fair, which took place at Newnham Campus today.
While Seneca is “a bit late to the party in some ways” on the sustainability front and has some catching up to do, President Agnew noted that there is great momentum with Sustainable Seneca and encouraged everyone to share ideas with the committee.
The Fair showcased a number of initiatives happening at Seneca, including the energy dashboard, the Green Citizen program, the urban farming unit by Ripple Farms, Seneca Sting Honey, textile diversion program and First Peoples@Seneca.
External organizations at the Fair included Habitat for Humanity, Waste Connections and Planet Earth.
“We want to encourage people to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible,” says Paula Echeveste Petrone, a Sustainable Business Management grad who organized the Fair.
Her passion for sustainability started when she was 10 years old, when she saw her mother’s friend turn a piece of magazine paper into an envelope.
“To me, that’s what sustainability is all about,” Paula says. “It’s how can we rethink the way we do things.”
For the Fair’s clothing swap event, for example, Paula reused hangers from dry cleaners and borrowed rolling racks and a mannequin from the School of Fashion. She also turned a cardboard box into a ballot box and rescued a chalkboard from being disposed for engagement activities at the Fair.
“We want to educate people about Seneca’s sustainable initiatives,” Paula says. “We also want everyone to create a collective change by modifying our day-to-day habits to have a positive environmental impact.”
Michelle Alexis Villarama agrees.
“It’s the little things that count,” says the third-year Accounting student. “There needs to be more events like the Sustainability Fair and more education around awareness.”
A self-professed “recycling nerd," Michelle says she often walks around the campus looking for garbage bins to segregate her waste.
However, she says she doesn’t see anyone else doing it.
“A lot of my friends don’t care about this stuff and honestly, it’s the lack of awareness,” she says.
“Yes, it might just be one piece of paper you recycle, but if you start, your friends will start and everyone else will start. And that will make a big impact. You can influence your friends by leading by example.”