11/9/14

5 rumours about cycling at UBC

By Sam Bowerman

Residence Advisor

1. You can’t bike in the rain.

If you’re a cross campus commuter a rainy day can be the difference between hoping on your bike and walking. Even a five minute pedal across campus can leave you soaked from head to drenched toe. However it still can be done, and in the driest of fashions. If you’re committed to cycling, even when the weather gets scary, here are my recommendations;

-Wear a raincoat; think function over fashion and leave the umbrella at home.

-Get some fenders; avoid wet bums, feet and face by installing fenders on your bike, they’re fairly cheep (around $30) and make a world of difference on wet days.

-Stay off pedestrian routs; if you thought Main Mall was crowded normally try riding it when everybody has an umbrella, talk about congestion.

-Keep your bike inside; show your bike some love and let it dry off, it will help prevent rust and will keep you bike rolling better longer.

2. The Bike Kitchen is unfriendly.

Some folks on campus say they get bad vibes from our local community bike shop The Bike Kitchen. Although the fine bike gurus under the SUB can be at times short, they are ultimately there to help. One of the most important things to know about The Bike Kitchen is that unlike other bike shops, it’s a co-op, not a business. While other shops may try to ‘butter you up’ in order to upsell you something you may not need, The Bike Kitchen will tell you exactly what you need and find you the option that fits your budget. Some may see this as cold but I prefer to think of it as ‘tough love’. The Bike Kitchen is also one of the only places in Vancouver where you can learn how to wrench on your own bike and work on your own bike with a full tool set for very little cost. Plus students get a 10% discount. So don’t be afraid to go to the Bike Kitchen, they love to see people cycling on campus and want to do everything they can to keep you rolling.

3. Main Mall is the quickest route between classes.

In my second year I often found myself sprinting between Buchanan and Forestry in order to be on time for my back-to-back classes, that is, until I started taking East Mall instead. On campus the shortest route between classes often involves Main Mall. For that reason everybody and their dog are walking on it when the clock strikes ten-to. Cycling is much quicker than walking but not if you’re too busy dodging and squeezing through groups of pedestrians it can be slow. If you need to ride down Main Mall by all means do, but if you have the option try riding East or West Mall instead. They might be longer in distance but they’ll get you there quicker, guaranteed

4. All used bikes are bad bikes.

As an avid up-fixer of old bikes, this statement makes me cringe. It is true used bikes can be neglected and often leave something to be desired aesthetically, but if you’re buying a used bike from a shop 99.9% of the time it is a good purchase. The same goes for buying a used bike online from a site like Craigslist, Kajiji or Pinkbike. People selling bikes online will most often get the bike fixed up prior to selling it. Used bikes may not look snazzy but they do their job, for the most part, very well and cost significantly less that good quality new bikes.

But I can buy a brand new bike for just as much at (insert major department store here).

You can but like many items you find at major department stores, these bikes are disposable and not built to last. Many people who buy these bike often have to spend more money repairing them shortly after purchasing them, so in the long term can be much more expensive than their low price tag would suggest. If you’re looking to buy a new bike you should start looking at bike stores and should budget to spend a minimum of $400.

5. Bikes have the right of way.

Nothing is more counterproductive to establishing strong cycling culture than a cyclist mowing down a pedestrian. If you’re riding through a busy pedestrian area slow down and even stop if you need to. Another bad habit cyclist get into is getting into a rhythm and zoning out. Do whatever you can to stop this from happening; take out your headphones, keep your head up and look far ahead. As a cyclist it is your responsibility to respond to the people around you, not the other way around.

01/21/14

Agora Café: Laid Back and Tasty

By: Tori Pollins

In the lower level of MacMillan there is a small vegetarian café called Agora. The coolest thing about this spot is the pastries, sandwiches and lasagnas all rock the casbah, yet the prices are surprisingly reasonable. The laid back atmosphere makes it the ideal space to collaborate on group projects while getting some quality eats that wont break the bank. Another plus, if you’re into saving the planet… the establishment is sustainable. They offer classically quaint dishware made of porcelain and silver on site, and if you decide to take your food to go all of the utensils and containers they offer are compostable. Good job Agora!  But let me stop myself before a start speaking too highly, one of my issues with the otherwise awesome joint is that it’s cash only, which can be a tad inconvenient. Also, they are without a bagel supplier at the moment L which means for all you bagel lovers out there might have to spread your smear somewhere else. But wait! Hope is on the horizon, Agora is looking to secure a new bagel supplier who can turn out bagels that are up to their standards. If you or someone you know has a bagel supplier contact in your phone book, give Angora a call at 604-822-4651. Check the place out anyway, its got Tori’s four thumbs out of five thumbs up. Good deal.

 

11/19/13

Immortal Hot Dogs, Dead Dirt, and Global Warming: The Dangers of Not Composting

by: Anna Murynka

 

http://youtu.be/wBY7ph-h8ws

 

It’s time to stop talkin’ trash and start talkin’ compost. Residents at Gage have been selected for a special Waste and Recycling Pilot: Sort it Out! Maybe you’ve seen signs about it. Maybe you’ve even said hi to Campus Sustainability (link to http://www.sustain.ubc.ca/) reps at an info booth (some pretty great people). But one way or another, we hope we can get it across to you that this is important.

 

We have a question. “What’s the best methodology for the food scraps program?” More specifically, and frankly, how the heck do we get residents to sort out there food scraps? Maybe you can help us find the answer.

 

So here goes: Top Four Reasons to Compost

 

1. Immortal Hot Dogs
What’s the big deal? Doesn’t it just decompose in the landfill? No. I used to think that too. If you want more info, check out this post by the University of Washington (http://students.washington.edu/uwseed/waste/) , but the short-and-sweet of it is this: the conditions of a landfill don’t allow much organic waste to decompose. Archeologists analyzing an older landfill found more then half of the waste was composed of organic material. Including a decades-old hot dog. (As if the concept of a hot dog alone isn’t bad enough.)

 

2. Global Warming
And if the immortal hot dog hasn’t convinced you yet, know that if organic waste does decompose, lack of available oxygen (did you even consider what’s it like to breathe at the bottom of a landfill pile?) means that any food decomposition happens anaerobically, producing methane gas. You know, one of those green house gasses (don’t even get me started on greenhouse gasses). Fun fact! Methane is 20-25 times stronger than CO2. Yup.

 

On the bright side, putting your organic waste in your food scraps pail and putting that in the compost bins (in the Gage basement) sends it off to the UBC Composting Facility. Which happens to be a very good facility. That decomposes your hot dogs and banana peels and so on and so forth without producing methane gas.
Imagine that.

 

3. Dirt is Dead

There’s major disconnect between people and the food they eat. (Link to: http://voices.yahoo.com/american-food-disconnect-between-people-plate-10904247.html) This is a growing problem, and there’s no easy fix. We’re talking genetically modified food, preservatives, processing, etc. We’re eating bad food, and we don’t know where it comes from. There is a growing push to overcome this and reconnect with our food: organic produce, whole foods, urban gardening, and composting. Part of the problem is the depletion of soil nutrients.

(embed video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKPcuwOOGqY)

Soil is alive. It is full of microorganisms and nutrients, but dirt, displaced and stripped of its nutrients, is dead. Food grown in starving soil lacks the vital nutritional qualities we need, and creates a negative feedback cycle of fertilization and water pollution. Organic waste in landfills doesn’t end up as living soil. But through composting, it can. By reconnecting with our soil, we are reconnecting with our food.

 

4. To Behave Like a Responsible Global Citizen

Because I secretly judge people who throw out their banana peels. I’ve been a long time composting enthusiast and to me, throwing food scraps into the garbage is as bad as littering. And that’s a serious comparison! Putting your organics (food scraps) in the trash is like dropping your coffee cup on the middle of the sidewalk. It’s just not a very useful place for such a thing to end up.

 

SO NOW THAT WE’RE ON THE SAME PAGE, I present to you…

Composting Made Easy: Ten Tips

 

1. Make sure the scrap pail is more accessible than your garbage. This is a good motivator.  Seriously.

 

2. Take out the compost about as often as you shower. (So like, every two days. Doesn’t that work out nicely? Clean up and then get clean!)

 

3. Keep your Sort it Out! Guide handy (like on your fridge!), in case you ever need to check something or troubleshoot a problem.

4. Place the Pail Sticker on top of your food scraps pail. If you forget what goes

where, this will tell you what to put in and what you keep out of the pail.

 

5. If you take the stairs, it counts at exercise. And that’s always a good idea.

6. Work it into your chore schedule. (And if you don’t have one, make one! You will definitely see a decrease in the amount of mold in your suite.) It creates another job, which can make it easier to divide tasks. Ex. In my apartment, I do the composting, one roommate does the recycling, and a third does the garbage.

 

7. Talk about it!
-If you ever need a conversation starter, consider: “Have you heard about the immortal hot dogs?”
-Unless you’re on a date. In which case you might prefer: “Did you know I take actions to behave like a Responsible Global Citizen?”
-Unless you’re at a noisy party and feeling daring, in which I challenge you to say, “Let’s talk dirt.”

 

8. If you ever have a question, as your RA. They’re super friendly. (And if you have any really tough waste and recycling questions, ask me, Anna, a.murnka@gmail.com, because I’m definitely a waste and recycling nerd.)

 

9. Remember the two Ps: Paper goes in, plastic stays out.
That means you can compost any napkins, cardboard take-out containers (unless they’re wax-lined) tea bags, and paper bags, etc. But you can’t compost lastic bags.  If you really feel the need to use bags, empty them into the compost bins and then throw the bags into the garbage. Plastic bags are not compostable (even the ones that are labeled as compostable or biodegradable, which is confusing, I know).

If what does/doesn’t go into your food scraps pail confuses you, make sure you watch this video about the UBC Composting facility:

 

http://youtu.be/yaERGvmH9e8

 

10. Remember that together, we are all working towards becoming a zero waste campus.

 

09/9/11

Composting in Gage

Composting is provided at the base of each tower and in the basement of the Gage Apartments.

Top 3 Composting Myths Busted:

  1. Yes, you can compost meat, bones, dairy and cooked food here at UBC. Our In-Vessel composter can break down a lot more than a traditional backyard composter that you may have at home.
  2. Chopsticks and cutlery are NOT compostable, but some takeout containers are – check!
  3. If you take out your compost bin and clean it frequently, you won’t have to worry about smells or fruit flies forming.

For answers to all your waste-sorting and recycling or composting questions, check out the UBC Recyclopedia: http://bit.ly/oIDu4L

Where and when should I take it out?

Work out a schedule with your roommates for emptying and cleaning your compost bin. It is a good idea to take it out twice as often as you take out the trash, or when it is full: whichever comes first.

When it’s your turn to take out the compost, empty your bin into the big green containers labelled “organics” in *insert residence-specific area here from list below*:

Is the bin mine to keep?

No! The compost bin is part of your room inventory. If it is damaged or missing at the end of the year, you and your roommates will be assessed for the cost of the bin. Please keep it clean for future residents to use.