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Going Green: Employer Highlights: Vancity and BC Used Oil

By: Kelsey Newsham | OLC Host
  6443 reads

“As for why so many people still resist what the facts clearly show, I think, in part, the reason is that the truth about the climate crisis is an inconvenient one that means we are going to have to change the way we live our lives” – Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth

As graduation draws near, students may be wondering about the work world. Amidst questions about salary, location and job description lies another question to ponder….what kind of ‘green’ initiatives do organizations practice? Here we focus on environmental sustainability and feature two outstanding ‘green’ companies who are also SFU Co-op employers.

Vancity

As a credit union, Vancity has a long history of taking action against climate change, dating back to “when green was still just a colour”. Vancity has focused on environmental sustainability by creating green strategies and sustainable practices that will reduce their total negative impact on the environment through their Climate Change Program.

As part of the program, the organization not only aims to reduce its emissions, energy, paper use, etc, it also engages its employees to do the same. ‘Cut the Carbon’ and ‘GreenFeat’ are two employee campaigns aimed to change employee behaviour. As an employee you can learn about climate friendly work behaviour and track how many emissions you save from one good habit a day. Employees caught practicing these actions have chances to win additional prizes. For students working at Vancity, this program caters to whichever aspect of impact reduction that you have passion for – whether it is decreasing car travel, water waste or paper usage.

Employees have the unique opportunity to get involved in Vancity community and internal projects such as those mentioned above that stress participation to curb climate change. Some students have already been involved with such programs during their Co-op work terms. SFU students have previously worked in Communication, Human Resource and Event Coordination capacities while being a part of Vancity’s climate change solutions. It takes each and every person Vancity works with to make a difference and because of this Vancity takes a holistic approach as they incorporate its partners, clients and employees in the fight against climate change.

BC Used Oil

Make every drop count. This is the motto of the BC Used Oil Management Association (BCUOMA) as they aim to increase the collection, management and recycling of used oil materials in BC. Students working with the Association have a unique task of encouraging British Columbians to adopt sustainable practices when it comes to handling used oil materials.

Because one litre of oil can contaminate one million litres of clean drinking water, the BCUOMA has created a summer ambassador program to raise awareness of the importance of responsible recycling.

Jessica Doherty, a previous BCUOMA ambassador, not only experienced the cost savings of driving a hybrid vehicle on the job; she also trekked across the province, from Smithers to White Rock, from Campbell River to Trail to educate people of the best practices of recycling.

One of the most rewarding aspects of the job for Jessica was knowing the information she and her co-worker provided would be used and would equate to cleaner water for everyone. Jessica recalls one visit to a festival when, after speaking with kids, one of them said in determination that he was going to tell his Dad about this because he always changes the oil of the family’s boat. It’s a small story but one with a big result considering how much water is contaminated by common oil changing practices.

Spreading knowledge along with enthusiasm in a fun and friendly way proved successful and encouraging as Jessica visited oil sites closer to home. An oil changing company in Coquitlam demonstrated that people are taking environmental sustainability seriously. Upon arriving, Jessica met with the enthusiastic owner who explained his creative efforts to ensure each drop of unused oil is recycled. This hit home with Jessica, “it was encouraging to see that other people cared about what is happening to our most valued resources and I was excited to work for an organization that provided information and support about oil recycling”.

In 2007 alone, 49 million litres of oil was collected through the program, which means billions of water will go uncontaminated as a result of these efforts. For Jessica, as she graduates, a company that focuses on sustainability practices will weigh heavily on her mind while searching for a permanent position, “I want to make sure I’m taking part as an employee in something that I believe in and that will have a lasting, positive impact”.

Posted on January 19, 2012