Queen's University

Sustainability initiative at Queen's by students for students


First-year students at Queen’s University will receive reusable water bottles as part of their Orientation Week activities and the university’s environmental sustainability efforts this fall.

“Every day thousands of water bottles are disposed of, flooding waste systems and overwhelming recycling facilities,” says Claire Nelischer, Sustainability Coordinator of the Alma Mater Society (AMS) Sustainability Office. “It’s unnecessary and we want new students to know, right from the start, that Queen’s and the AMS is very serious about sustainability.”

The bottles can be refilled from large water coolers at specific events during Orientation Week, or from water coolers, fountains and taps throughout the University after Orientation Week.

This initiative is the result of much collaboration between the AMS Sustainability Office and the Orientation Round Table (ORT), which coordinates the planning of all Orientation Week events. Both groups wanted to reduce the amount of waste that can be created by having 3,500 first-year students and almost 1,000 leaders engaged in intense activities designed to introduce the freshmen to Queen’s and their life as students.

“With the addition of Sustainability to my ORT Director portfolio this year, I made it a point to actively pursue a feasible initiative that would have a profound impact throughout Orientation Week,” says Jaskiran Otal, Director of IT Services, Accessibility & Sustainability on ORT 2009.

The water bottles are printed with the address of a web page on the AMS site which lists all locations of water fountains across campus, as well as a complete campus map for reference to encourage students to access public water sources on campus throughout the coming year.

Queen’s Sustainability Office and Student Affairs both contributed financially to the AMS initiative to assist with the purchase of the water bottles and to provide water coolers at all faculty-run orientation events this week.

“Queen’s University is dedicated to developing strategies that are sustainable into the future, and appropriate messaging and activities targeted to incoming students are critical to establishing early on, a community approach to sustainability,” says Aaron Ball, Sustainability Manager with the Sustainability Office. “We are proud to work with the AMS and ORT on this initiative.”

The AMS Sustainability Office is developing innovative strategies to foster social, economic, and environmental sustainability.

“It is our hope that the water bottle project will continue annually, and that sustained efforts to encourage students to access public water sources and reduce waste from bottled water will be increasingly successful,” says Ms. Nelischer, who is planning to continue bottled water reduction strategies on campus throughout the year. “We want to create a ‘culture of sustainability’ at Queen’s University that grows.”

Additionally, this year ORT will be distributing “frosh kits” in cloth bags with a drawstring closure rather than a plastic bag, as used in previous years. This change further reduces waste created by Orientation Week.


Claire Nelischer, Sustainability Coordinator, Alma Mater Society of Queen’s University, sc@ams.queensu.ca or 613-533-6000, ext. 75663
Jaskiran Otal, Director of IT Services, Accessibility & Sustainability, Orientation Round Table, Alma Mater Society of Queen’s University, ortit@ams.queensu.ca, or 613-533-6000, ext. 74819

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Last updated at 3:57 pm EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
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