Arts Undergraduate Society Is Turning a New Leaf, and It’s Green!


AUS Organization at UBC Ramps Up Waste Management Policy in Student Space

The Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) at the University of British Columbia is joining the fight for a more sustainable future. Working in conjunction with the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs (SPPGA), and the Social Ecological Economic Development Studies (SEEDS) Sustainability Program, the student-led organization will be implementing a number of policies aimed at curbing ineffective waste management in their student space, the Meekison Arts Student Space (MASS).

“Ensuring that we’re disposing of our waste effectively is an important component in the overall development of sustainable solutions,” said AUS President, Katherine Aquino. “Promoting a more environmentally-conscious campus is all of our responsibility, and our organization is excited to be working alongside other groups at UBC to safeguard our collective future.”

In the coming months, AUS will be showcasing an awareness campaign that highlights the importance of sorting waste appropriately. Sharing facts and light-hearted environmental humour, the campaign is designed to coincide with the university’s overarching sustainability goals. One primary goal being an 80% waste diversion rate by 2020.

The educational component will be combined with the rollout of new and improved sorting bins. The waste sorting bins will include four streams—garbage, organics, recyclables, and paper products—and will be accompanied by clear and descriptive signage.

Other student centres on campus have already experimented with different types of signage, including the use of clear, 3D display boxes that illustrate which types of waste are appropriate for each stream. According to AMS Student Society of UBC Vancouver, these unique displays are a compelling way to encourage appropriate waste sorting amongst students.

"Waste sorting is definitely an issue at UBC,” said Michelle Marcus, Associate Vice President, Sustainability, AMS Student Society of UBC Vancouver. “A lot of compostable and recyclable material gets thrown directly into the garbage. It’s also a problem the other way around - for example, when too many plastics get put in the compost, they contaminate the whole load and it gets sent to the landfill rather than being composted. Undergraduate societies engage directly with the student body and can play an important role in sustainability education, so it’s great to see the AUS taking action on this.”

To tackle their growing battle regarding waste management in MASS, the AUS has been working with the SPPGA. Leading a research-intensive project, the SPPGA team developed a practical policy scheme that will encourage sound sustainability practices.

“It’s clear to see that the AUS organization is passionate about promoting and practicing sustainability,” said Melisha Charles, who also worked on the project. “We hope that through the implementation of a comprehensive policy, the practice of effective waste management will be normalized in MASS.”

About AUS: The Arts Undergraduate Society of UBC represents 14,000 Faculty of Arts students, providing an assortment of student services and hosting social events for constituents. Their aim is to enhance the undergraduate experience and provide opportunities for student involvement in the UBC/Vancouver arts community.

Cassandra Jeffery is a Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs student at the University of British Columbia. She obtained a BA in English Literature and Communication Studies from McMaster University. Before attending UBC, Cassandra started her career in journalism and marketing communications. Her academic and professional work has primarily centred around Indigenous affairs in Canada, South East Asia relations with Canada, and developmental policy, particularly in forced migration due to environmental issues.