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Green lessons learned on Earth Day

Red River College, U of W, Children's Museum take part

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Water fountains, solar troughs and an organic fertilizer called "worm poop tea" -- these are some of the things Red River College's Notre Dame Campus uses toward creating a sustainable campus.

To celebrate Earth Day, the college organized a weeklong environmental campaign starting Monday. Sara MacArthur, manager of sustainability, kicked off the day with a tour of the campus, highlighting several of its environmental initiatives, including the makeover of its drinking stations.

The college spent $50,000 to retrofit its water fountains into refill stations last summer as an alternative to purchasing water bottles.

"We've seen a pretty steep decline in our bottled-water consumption without sort of banning something and eliminating that choice," MacArthur said.

Outdoors, the Notre Dame Campus is currently working on a project involving rows of large, metallic solar troughs in a field behind the college.

"This is a demonstration project about using what we call concentrated solar power to heat up fluids, then we can use that fluid to heat a building or to generate electricity," explained Ken Klassen, RRC's Centre for Applied Research in Sustainable Infrastructure (CARSI) research professional.

"This is a rather unique experiment because this type of technology is used a lot in the U.S., Spain, places like that that are quite a bit warmer and sunnier, so what we're trying to find out is whether or not this technology is really appropriate for more northern climates," Klassen said.

In the college, the eco-fair featured pamphlets, activities and tea that is not meant to be consumed.

Sue Hayduk, sustainability co-ordinator for RRC, operated the table covered with recycled bottles of murky green liquid.

"So you get the red wriggler worms and you put food matter in it and some brown paper for them to eat. And eventually all their worm casings turn into worm poop.

"Your plants will be very happy eating this compost," Hayduk said. "Not for human consumption, which it says on the bottle," she laughed, pointing at a label on the bottle.

The University of Winnipeg also participated in the Earth Day festivities by partnering with Peg City Co-op to offer a car-sharing program on campus.

"Starting in May, we will have a car at the University of Winnipeg," said Melissa Dupuis, a car-sharing program board member.

"For people who would prefer not to drive their cars, they would now have access to this car. If they have to go and do meetings, they would have access to this car."

Qualifications to use the car include being 21 years of age, having a relatively clean driving record and paying a $500 membership fee.

The Children's Museum had a special Mini Monday program specifically for toddlers that focused on Earth Day.

"We had a sorting station where one of our program co-ordinators was doing a special compost demonstration, teaching kids what goes into the compost, recycling bin, and garbage," Lisa Dziedzic, director of marketing and communications, said.

cindy.chan@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 23, 2013 A2

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