BURNABY – The winners of CUPE BC’s Environment All-Stars Contest have been selected and we can all benefit from their innovative ideas.
The contest was open to all CUPE members in B.C. as part of an effort to highlight creative projects that support the environment. The results engage and celebrate CUPE members who have shown leadership as stewards of the environment in their lives, their workplaces, or their communities.
CUPE BC’s Environment Committee judged the entries based on benefit to the environment, personal contribution of time and effort, resourcefulness (e.g. reusing existing materials) and creativity/inventiveness. Their choice for first place this year is Aman Cheema of CUPE 402 – Surrey City workers. As Aman explains, he thought small and came up big:
“I placed a small, circular, ring-shaped object on 6 taps inside my home. The main objective of the ring is to reduce the amount of water that flows out the tap. I think people around the world are concerned about global warming, as they should be, but they forget the importance of clean, drinkable, fresh water!
“Every day North Americans use 300-400 Litres per day, while others in the world die because they cannot access clean, safe, drinkable water. By reducing the flow of water we use in our household, we are utilizing only the water we need and not wasting excess water.
I also place a small bag filled with water inside the toilet tank which reduces the amount of water needed for every flush. I know these may not seem like major initiatives, but they are simple, easy to apply items that have had a significant impact on our water consumption.”
The second place winner is Kathy Russell of CUPE 4177 - School District Nechako Lakes. Kathy is the staff sponsor for an extracurricular environmental group at Nechako Valley Secondary. The students organized paper and cardboard recycling for all the classrooms five years ago. They purchased blue bins for each classroom. Kathy explains how it all works:
“The recycling is picked up from our school weekly by a special needs employee with the local community living program (and sponsored by the Nechako Waste Reduction Initiative, which is a local environmental group that I belong to).
“Our school group has 2 goals: waste reduction and environmental awareness so the students have organized many different campaigns and projects. We collect batteries and cellphones and recycle our ink toners. As a way to promote environmental awareness, the students have organized many fun challenges to engage fellow students, such as Earth Week, Baking for Batteries, “Disco lunches” and Water Footprint challenges. They also organized a local environmental art contest and created movies to share at school assemblies about global water issues and conservation.
“They ran an awareness campaign about water bottles and helped to get refillable water stations in our school. Our team has also been invited to take on student leadership roles by helping run stations for younger students at Destination Conservation workshops.”
The third prize goes to Duncan Currie at CUPE 4774 in Creston for a garden rejuvenation that saw the removal of an old retaining wall with the pieces used to build flower and vegetable gardens and two compost bins to get it all growing.
In fourth place is Ann Dodington of CUPE 391 in North Vancouver for “K-cup Karma.” In honour of Earth Day, Anne repurposed a year’s worth of Keurig cups used by worksite staff for new seedlings.