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PRESIDENT’S PAGE Nick Shorten VP (Finance)

Mary Koziol President

Joe Finkle VP (Education)

John McIntyre VP (Administration)

MSU OFFICE MAKES STRIDES TOWARDS BECOMING PLASTIC BOTTLE FREE Seizing its responsibility to be environmentally-conscious, the hub of the MSU takes the vow to eliminate plastic bottles and make use of re-usable options - urging students to do the same Mary Koziol President president@msu.mcmaster.ca ext. 23885

As students, and ultimately responsible citizens, I feel we have an obligation to be environmentally conscious and to partake in sustainable practices. Fundamentally, the more we take, the less there is for others, including those who will come in future generations. Two of the largest challenges we currently face with regards to environmental sustainability, is our ever-escalating consumption of energy and the excessively large volumes of waste we produce. On February 28th, 2011, the MSU will be taking an important step that will result in a significant reduction of our consumption of energy and production of waste. Specifically, the MSU main office (MUSC 201) will be going plastic bottle free. What this means is that students and staff will be strongly discouraged from using plastic bottles in

the office, and encouraged to search out alternatives whether it be buying drinks in cans or glass bottles, using a refillable water bottle, or using the pitcher and glasses we keep in our kitchen for larger groups. The establishment of the MSU office as the first plastic bottle free zone on campus will be accompanied by a larger campaign encouraging students to take the plastic bottle free pledge. In order to make this transition easier, we will also be working closely with our team at Union Market to provide alternatives to plastic bottle beverages. So what is so bad about plastic bottles? Not only does it take a lot of energy to produce them, but it is also very energy inefficient to recycle them. Whereas aluminum can be recycled many, many times, a plastic bottle can only be downcycled before being discarded, into materials like stuffing. Additionally, many of these bottles make their way into landfills where they take thousands of years to break down. On top of this, the consumption of plastic bottles is increasing rapidly.

These facts, provided by the Office of Sustainability, illustrate these points more quantitatively: -Americans will buy an estimated 25 billion single-serving, plastic water bottles this year. Eight out of 10 (22 billion) will end up in a landfill. (Container Recycling Institute) -1.5 million barrels of oil are used annually to produce plastic water bottles for America alone - enough to fuel some 100,000 U.S. cars for a year. (Earth Policy Institute) -A growing problem: “In 1990, Americans bought 1.1 billion pounds of plastic in the form of bottles, according to the Container Recycling Institute. In 2002, they bought more than three times that - 4 billion pounds.” -Each beverage vending machine at McMaster uses approximately 4,500 KW of energy, which produces 900,000kg of GHG and costs $450 every year.

A campaign for those not sitting next to you in class OUSA’s annual Blue Chair Campaign draws attention to the barriers preventing access to post-secondary education This year marks the launch of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance’s (OUSA) 4th annual Blue Chair Campaign. The Blue Chair Campaign is a grassroots, student-led campaign that seeks to raise awareness about the need to expand access to higher education, as an equalizer of economic prosperity and social vitality. Many of Ontario’s best and brightest cannot attend university due to financial, cultural, geographical, motivational and informational barriers.   Studies predict that within the next 10 years, 70 per cent of jobs will require a post-secondary credential. Ontario’s current participation rate of 18-24 year-olds sits at 40 per cent, with only 33 percent of students from the lowest income quartile and 28 percent of Aboriginal students persisting to higher education, directly from high school. In recognition of these challenges, from February 28th to March 4th, McMaster will be sprinkled with empty blue chairs aimed at creating awareness, raising funds and taking action at reducing the barriers to post-secondary education. The empty blue chairs

symbolize the lost potential for our province when access is restricted – and the students who cannot be on campus to fill them. The week will begin with information tables in MUSC, followed by the introduction of a series called OUSA Speakers Corner, wherein students will have an opportunity to film the qualms they have with their education. We will also be hosting a TwelvEighty night called “Into the Blue,” along with contests, free swag and a slew of information concerning basic access to education - and concerns with postsecondary schooling more generally. Most importantly, keep your eyes peeled for the ‘Big Blue Chair’ that will be making an appearance on campus. Take some time from February 28th to March 4th to drop by the OUSA table in MUSC, grab a pamphlet, vent about your education, or walk away with a free t-shirt. Understanding the issue(s) is the first step to filling those empty seats. Alicia Ali OUSA Campus Coordinator ousa@msu.mcmaster.ca

The President’s Page is sponsored by the McMaster Students Union. It is a space used to communicate with the student body about the projects, goals and agenda of the MSU Board of Directors.

www.msu.mcmaster.ca

So as an individual student, what can you do? Take the pledge starting February 28th by visiting the MSU website. If you are accustomed to buying juice or pop in a plastic bottle, opt for a canned alternative and failing that - a glass bottle. Refuse to purchase bottled water! We are exceptionally lucky to live in a city where the water is tested literally thousands of times, and the quality of our water is at a level that is safe to consume straight from the tap. In addition, there are a number of filter stations around campus, including a brand new one in the MSU office, which you can feel free to use. Educate your friends about the damaging nature of using plastic bottles. Even as an avid environmentalist, it was not until this year that I stopped buying orange juice in a plastic bottle because I was previously unaware of the negative impact to which I was contributing. Encourage everyone you know to join us on February 28th and challenge yourselves to make the shift to plastic bottle free.


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