Hi everyone! Welcome to Group 17’s blog, dedicated to our project that focuses on reducing the use of plastic water bottles in the City of Vancouver.
Meet Our Team
- Vincent Wu is in his third year at University of British Columbia majoring in Food Market Analysis. He cares about proper disposal and reduction of waste, while curious about what grabs people’s attention when it comes to food marketing.
- Kimmia Abdollahi is in her third year at the University of British Columbia majoring in Applied Animal Biology. To her, both reducing and disposing of waste properly is extremely important, as it is directly affecting our planet and the animals living alongside us.
- Sandy Yuen is in her third year at the University of British Columbia majoring in Nutritional Sciences. She is passionate about the decrease in global land waste, and to start moving forward in restoring the environment again. Hopefully the world will be filled with nature and wildlife in place of garbage soon.
- Gianna Wang is in her fourth year at the University of British Columbia majoring in Food and Nutritional Sciences. Like her teammates, she was strongly interested in sustainability. She is stoked about this opportunity to be able to work with the city of Vancouver and the CityStudio to come up with creative ideas to be implemented in campaign projects. She is eager to analyze people’s behavioural patterns in consumption and recycling, to come up with campaign ideas that can encourage and normalize waste reduction.
- Xiaoqing Liu is in her fourth year at the University of British Columbia majoring in Food Science. She finds topics relating to waste management, sustainability, and energy conservation thought-provoking, and would like to raise public awareness on proper recycling and waste reduction.
- Shirley Zhang is in her fourth and final year at University of British Columbia majoring in Global Resource Systems. She is specializing in Climate Change and Conservation, thus this project peaks her interest due to the known facts of how plastic is both harmful to human and environmental health.
Group Interests and Goals
Our group interests are centered around sustainability and improving the environmental health of the planet for those inhabiting it – both humans and animals. Plastic bottle waste is a growing issue since plastic bottles are easily accessible and used at a high rate. The main concern however, is that most people do not recycle, and it often ends up in landfills and oceans, creating a multitude of problems for the environment (Sheela and Sangeetha, 2011). Marine animals either get tangled in mounds of plastic or ingest them, causing harm that leads to death (Galloway, 2008). Even though there has been heavy research to find solutions of breaking down plastics using fungi and other microorganisms, we believe that collectively, as a society, we should try our best to minimize our impact if we are properly educated on how. Not only should we be recycling our plastic bottles, but switching entirely to reusable water bottles would positively impact the environment. Thus, as the goal of our group, we want to find a tactic to educate the public about the importance of plastic bottle recycling, but also encouraging the use of reusable water bottles.
The reason for choosing this project is based on our collective interests in improving the conditions of the current environment and to ensure that future generations have a chance of witnessing our planet for how we see it today. If we have the chance to change the planet for the better, especially knowing that plastic may take 100s or 1000s of years to degrade (Galloway, 2008), we definitely want to give it our best shot. Our chance to also work with CityStudio and the City of Vancouver also further motivates us to find a innovative solution that could possibly be implemented on a larger scale to spread awareness.
From our experience, we wish to gain knowledge on the many ways city planners are working together to ensure a greener and more sustainable form of our planet, especially knowing that Vancouver has aspirations of being the greenest city by 2020. It will be interesting to see how the process of working with our partners will be, in terms of the level of procedures to have certain steps or projects implemented. We also wish to further improve the current systems already in place by pushing for more sustainable options as we collaborate in our group.
Nowadays, recycling is in the spotlight of environmental advocacies globally. However, it is especially important to address an even better solution: reduction over diversion. Simply, rather than buying single-use merchandise and recycling it, reducing purchase in the first place can significantly minimize the valuable energy and economic input during the process of recycling. This semester, our group is partnering with the City of Vancouver and CityStudio to take on the challenge of implementing awareness on reducing waste by purchasing reusable items, in our case water bottles. We will observe the current behavioural patterns in our communities, and prototype campaigns that promote the behaviour of using reusable items to minimize energy input in waste recycling.
By integrating our knowledge of an asset-based community development, we aim to initiate shifts in thinking and behavioural changes of the community members to drive the goal of waste reduction as a whole.
Our first impression of the project is of a strong sense of promise to new possibilities and innovation. The idea of waste management has always been stressed, starting with the recycling of reusable materials, but now we are shifting our priority to reduction and taking further steps to create a more sustainable city.
Our first connection with community partners has been a very positive experience. Ileana (from CityStudio) and Paul (from City of Vancouver) showed us tremendous respect and support for our mutual passion of sustainability. They have made the objectives very clear by demonstrating the city’s improvements and accomplishments for the Greenest City 2020 plan, while being very open-minded for any fresh perspectives and creative solutions towards the new project – the Zero Waste 2040 plan. They were particularly open in allowing us to have control of the project because we are able to provide a fresh lens on the subject. This reminded us of the key concepts in Asset-Based Community Development, which emphasizes the importance that sustainable development of communities should centre around the assets (resources, skills, and experience) of individuals in the community (Mathie and Cunningham, 2003).
We will be implementing our ideas by talking to the community, listening to more perspectives on waste management and uses of water bottles, and figuring out what grabs people’s attention – the passion of the community is what drives change and innovation. This concept of knowing the demands and respecting the ideas of individuals in a community before addressing the issue is prevalent in Ernesto Sirolli’s TED talk (2012).
As Ernesto Sirolli stated: “Nobody in the world can succeed alone” (2010). We believe the success of sustainability is beyond the ability of any one organization, rather it would be a collective effort of the society. We look forward to spreading the message of waste reduction and hope our ideas can support an influential change.
Although this project is definitely a challenge, we can’t wait to get started on it soon!
Bye for now,
– Group 17: Shirley, Kimmia, Vincent, Sandy, Gianna and Xiaoqing
Galloway, T. (2008). Plastic bottles and moral codes. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 56(2), 163-165.
Mathie, A., & Cunningham, G. (2003) From clients to citizens: Asset-based Community Development as a strategy for community-driven development, 13(5), 474-486.
Sheela, R., & Sangeetha, J. (2011). isolation and identification of fungi to degrade plastics. Journal of Ecotoxicology & Environmental Monitoring, 21(5), 497.
Sirolli, E. (2012). Want to help someone? Shut up and listen! TEDxEQChCh. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/ernesto_sirolli_want_to_help_someone_shut_up_and_listen?language=en