Exploring Student Sustainability Initiatives Across Alberta

Sometimes, it might feel like raising awareness about sustainable habits among our peers is like talking to a brick wall. However, many student groups, in both high school and post-secondary, across Alberta have been working to combat both wasteful practices as well as ignorance about the encompassing issue of climate change – even if Alberta seems like about the last place you might find them.

EcoVision – Lacombe Composite High School

Operating over the past fifteen years, Lacombe Composite High School’s environmental club has been able to raise the money for 32 solar arrays in a successful attempt to lower their usage of natural gas. In addition, the students have secured an energy-efficient greenhouse with geothermal heat storage; this is likely useful in light of their urban bee-keeping efforts. For their achievements and continued environmental activism, they won the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) Greenest School award in 2018.


Fill It Forward – University of Calgary

The University of Calgary’s participation in the Fill It Forward initiative incorporates two parameters to its operation; the students are encouraged to use reusable bottles for hot and cold drinks and clean water is donated to someone in need. Stickers are given out for reusable drink containers and students can scan them each time they refill their container; this allows them to gain points (for a monthly draw), give clear water, stay hydrated, and even track their environmental footprint. 


Centre for Creative Reuse – Concordia University

The Concordia University has explored the idea of reuse, one of the three R’s we all know (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) in an innovative way. Students are able to donate and receive materials from Concordia University’s Centre for Creative Reuse, including wood, plastics, paper, glass/metal, and more. The Centre also offers two internships, the Material Life Cycle Research Internship as well as the SHED Circular Economy Internship for students interested in gaining hands-on experience in sustainability.


Environmental Stewardship – Salisbury Composite High School

Salisbury Composite High School, beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, has begun to offer an Environmental Stewardship course that focuses on a variety of sustainability-driven issues, including climate change, composting, management of natural resources and consumerism. While students do have to pay $25.00 to take the course, they receive five credits towards their high school diploma and participate in the implementation of an environmentalism project near the end of the semester.


Environmental Club – Westwood Community High School

Located in Fort McMurray, Westwood Community High School’s environmental club has started a number of ecological initiatives designed to minimize the school’s dependence on non-renewable resources. For instance, the school’s water is supplied entirely by harvested rainwater. Other initiatives include a Farm to Table program supported by the school’s greenhouses, solar panels that fuel water-bottle filling stations and a living wall, and a partnership with a teen sustainability mentorship program.


SustainSU – University of Alberta

Of course, this article wouldn’t be complete without SustainSU, the Student’s Union group dedicated to increasing sustainable practices right here at the University of Alberta. With many branches, including the Reusable Dish Program, the Bike Library and the Sustain SU Blog, Sustain SU has grown exponentially since its conception. With a mission statement of, “design[ing] a series of sustainability themed events to encourage ecological and social innovation in Edmonton and Alberta,” here’s to hoping their success will continue to grow.


Taken all together, these student initiatives both remind us that young people have indeed applied their entrepreneurial spirit to issues revolving around sustainability and inspire us to partake in similar activities. Let the examples demonstrated above encourage you to be sustainably conscious on campus!

Ashley A.


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