Western Sustainability has announced the winners of the Western Green Awards, highlighting innovative work by members of the campus community to reduce the environmental footprint of the university and of society as a whole.
Established in 2008 to raise awareness about sustainability, the awards celebrate individuals and teams who initiate or support activities with positive environmental outcomes, who encourage participation and involvement, or who demonstrate an environmentally friendly effort.
Winners this year include the EnviroWestern First-Year Committee, Ivey HBA Student Anandita Heer and Faculty of Information & Media Studies student Julia Martins.
The winners of Western’s Ideas for Sustainability and the Environment (WISE) competition were also announced.
WISE invites undergraduate and graduate students to develop high-impact ideas for reducing or eliminating today’s most pressing environmental concerns. The winner receives $1,500 toward their project, and the second-place entry receives $1,000.
Faculty of Science student Aranyah Shanker won the top award this year. Second-prize winners are Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry student Samantha Tse and Faculty of Social Science student Grace Tse.
EnviroWestern First Year Committee
The EnviroWestern First Year Committee has been a strong voice advocating for sustainability at Western.
This year, it had the daunting task of engaging students virtually in the midst of the pandemic. Committee members used their creativity to educate and involve students as they advocated for more accessible, sustainable waste diversion systems in Western residences.
Their EcoWeek, a collaboration with students at Dalhousie University, was a huge success – providing virtual workshops on topics such as mental health and the environment, food sustainability, climate activism and reducing waste and emissions.
The committee also created exciting social media content, connecting with climate activists and local businesses while engaging Western students to promote sustainable living.
Its Waste Diversion Initiative established a network of students in residence to evaluate and suggest improvements to the waste disposal systems, contributing to a more accessible organics and recycling program.
The committee, led by Jasmine Wu and Zoe Trottier, included Keelin Bridge, Lauren Kotush, Alex Hauser, Caitlin Oh, Caroline Wang, Lydia Jocius, Michael Yang and Sarah Mills.
Ivey HBA student Anandita Heer is one of two students elected by the University Students’ Council to represent undergraduates on the President’s Advisory Council on Environment and Sustainability.
She has been instrumental in forming consultations between the administration and students, including groups such as the Climate Crisis Coalition, Ivey Social Impact Club and the Strategic Planning Steering Committee, which have helped define Western’s sustainability goals.
Heer’s mobilization efforts include work on a manifesto from the Canadian Business Youth Council for Sustainable Development and the execution of six large-scale events with Global Spark (formerly Global Engineering Week).
As a member of the winning team on both the MaRS Discovery District Innovation Jam Challenge and the National Youth Impact Challenge, Heer continues to represent Western in national and international case competitions and entrepreneurship challenges.
Faculty of Information & Media Studies student Julia Martins has worked tirelessly to illustrate the connections between environmental and social justice issues through various initiatives at Western.
She organized a virtual discussion with a diverse panel of student leaders about the importance of decolonizing and diversifying conservation and sustainability. She has created countless promotional materials for WaterAid Western, an organization dedicated to providing clean drinking water and basic sanitation to communities in need, and contributed to several events and a social media campaign on environmental racism in Indigenous communities near Western University.
Martin has written for the student publication Western Unfiltered on environmental issues including the roles of racism and Indigenous issues.
The Waste Map
Science student Aranyah Shanker proposed The Waste Map, an online training tool that uses incentives to promote the proper use of local recycling programs.
Users take a photo or enter text to describe an item for disposal, and The Waste Map identifies the item and directs them to the nearest appropriate bin. It then prompts the user to take a picture of the bin, and if it matches the one specified the user gets tokens or points redeemable at on-campus establishments.
The Carbon Menu
Grace Tse and Samantha Tse
Medical Science student Samantha Tse and Social Science student Grace Tse set out to shed light on the environmental impacts of meat-based diets. They proposed The Carbon Menu, which lists water consumption and carbon emissions related to the production of each menu item in Western’s dining halls and campus eateries. The menu helps individuals make more sustainable choices.
The students are considering developing an app that would track the carbon emissions and water consumption associated with a user’s meals and grant more points to meals with lesser impacts.