Sustainable Students and Celebrations

Melanie Bellwood | News Director

Have you ever questioned what your role is in the sustainability of our university? What about in the maintenance of our entire planet? This was the subject of conversation this February for hundreds of university students in Prince George. Green Day events at the University of Northern British Columbia were under full swing on February 5th as over 50 vendors andattractionslinedthehallsof UNBC to celebrate sustainable living in Northern British Columbia. The event, organized by student leader Jennifer Baddeley, saw the student body celebrate the connection between sustainability on campus and sustainability as a largercommunity.Heraldedasthe “Green University” nationwide, UNBC takes its environmental impact very seriously. The university sets itself apart from otherspublicly,assertingontheir website that:

Here at UNBC, sustainability is in our nature, for a wide variety of reasons.

Geographically, we are located in one of the world’s most magnificent natural settings:

Northern BC. We are living in the North during a time of great change, including the lingering impacts of the pine beetle, increased interest in mineral and energy resource development, and our changing climate (UNBC.ca/ green).

Having expressed a focus on international and progressive means of maintaining sustainability since being built, UNBC upholds these ideas in a variety of ways. The UNBC Green Day celebrations, that have been around for several years, are an extremely important part of this effort. This is one of the remnants

leftbytheUNBCGreenStrategy, which was enacted to guide the actions of the entire university between the years of 2009 and 2011. Having implemented a solid foundation for the school to move forward on, the green strategy was considered a success by groups that formed to fill in its shoes once the strategy came to an end. This year’s festivities saw winter activities integrated with education about electric vehicles, waste reduction, reusable materials, and self-sufficient foods. Major non-profit organizations brought their involvement to the school, promoting their own activities alongside an expression of unique ways that students canbecomeinvolvedinnotonly environmental awareness, but the Prince George community. Green Day Coordinator, Jennifer Baddeley, spent the day checking in with students and vendors, enabling the event to run smoothly.

“By showing that sustainability, which is something actually very dear to our students inPrince George, is a big focus in town and in the north too, I think it shows opportunity for

people stay in the north,” she says. Baddeley considers it particularly important to show students that these sustainable actions are part of a much larger community effort, linking the ideas between Prince George and the school. She brings up an interesting point: integrating the ideas of sustainable energy and living into the university is a choice made to influence more than just the students. An enormous pull on the tourist, transitory, and working population in Prince George, the university is meant to be seen as an example to be followed by the rest of the city. In order to make

thesedreamsareality,agreatdeal ofeffortandhardworkisrequired by the students and faculty to stay dedicated and organized towards this cause. Students attending the event agreed, even saying that the placementofGreenDayfestivities right before Chinese New Years celebrations, where hundreds of meals were served to the student population, made an instant impact on the way students think about learning and preserving composting methods on campus. The ability to do so blends the ideas of celebration and progression for our student community.

This placement of Green Day before Chinese New Years is a valuable coincidence for those hoping to maketheirnewyearscelebrations sustainable and meaningful. The multicultural celebration brings in the “Year of the Pig,” which can symbolize prosperity and wealthforChineseculture.Joined by the talents of local musicians such as Jake Marcial and Solomon Goudsward, the entertainment included the provision of cultural foods and spoken word explaining what Chinese News Years means and how we can all celebrate it together. This sentiment is not far from that of the Green Day activities, though it is curated from a place of celebration rather than education.

A concept perhaps forgotten by many, while we try to move forward as a population to normalize tenable resources in common society it is also possible to enjoy the achievements that we already have. This appears to be the stance that Baddeley and her organizing partners have taken regarding UNBC’s Green Day 2019. The majority of vendors and activities were based around the idea of continuing to use pre-invented methods of living

Melanie Bellwood News Director

sustainably,ratherthancreating new ways to do so. Ultimately, celebrating our success and promoting the idea that we may be able to move forward in a similar fashion.

The question of sustainability has integrated into every aspect of our lives as students. We look for it in our parking lots, our classrooms, in our homes, and on the local and global news. It is clearthat,whetheritbeforbetter or for worse, this environmental awareness will be a part of major social, cultural, economical, and functional changes for humanity as a whole. We, as students of a “Green University,” are both privileged and burdened with the understanding that our generation bears the responsibility of maintaining our planet Earth. Whether you are someone who recycles religiously, or an individual who bikes everywhere instead of driving, the impact you make is always described as integral to the success of environmentally tenable campaigns. This comes with a great pride for sustainability simultaneously with a deep guilt for those of us who do not feel they are doing enough. The university, through its Green Day activities, allows the student body to connect with Prince George on a far more positive level: one that reminds us that we have done quite a lot for our environment. We are encouraged to keep up the good work, an effort that is important for those that are unsure that anything they do could possibly be enough.