Making the environment S.A.F.E

Independent Kwantlen group focuses on environmental action at the community level.

By Matt Law
[media editor]

An environmental club at universities in eco-conscious British Columbia is a staple – and Kwantlen is no different.

Started in 2009 by students in their second year of the Environmental Protection Technology program, Students Active for the Environment offers an outlet for people wanting to make an environmental difference.

(Courtesy of Frieda Shabrang)

The club, while unofficially associated with Kwantlen, acts to educate people about the environmental impact individuals can have in their community

“It separates students from Kwantlen so they can get out there and liaison with city halls or with different government groups as an independent group and not as a university associated group,” said Fieda Shabrang, S.A.F.E’s unofficial event coordinator. “The group does anything that is good for the neighbourhood, good for the environment.”

The club has taken part in everything from shoreline cleanups to lobbying the City of Surrey to implement a more comprehensive garbage program during the Diwali festival.

But over the last year S.A.F.E has been suffering from the same apathy that affects many of Kwantlen’s clubs: lack of involvement.

“The students who set up S.A.F.E club graduated, they moved on with their lives and nobody wanted to organize events or take on the responsibility to deal with the rest of S.A.F.E club’s life,” said Shabrang.

The EPT program, which moved to the Langley campus this fall, is only a two year program. Students who get involved with the club are not around long enough to keep it active.  Shabrang hopes that in her time left at Kwantlen she can help turn the involvement around.

“Kwantlen was one of the pioneers of sustainable horticulture and sustainable studies in Vancouver, in Metro Van region, and I think they don’t have enough community involvement,” she said. “Other institutions like BCIT or UBC, they’re fairly new at this whole sustainable studies and environmental sciences but they’re out there doing things, and not just the students in the program but everybody from the schools are involved.”

Shabrang is trying to get more people involved with the club and hopes to have a solid group of at least 20 people to take part in regular events and the coordination of the club.

“I’m trying to get some more exciting things going like tree planting this year, so anything to really keep your neighbourhood a little more clean and sustainable,” said Shabrang.

She hopes to have at least one event per month that all Kwantlen students can participate in such as invasive plant workshops or attending workshops hosted by municipalities in the Lower Mainland.

Shabrang is quick to point out that anyone can get involved with the club and you don’t have to be an environmentalist to do it.

“Pick up your garbage, recycle – little things at school – bring your own food, don’t use Styrofoam. You don’t have to go out tree planting, as much fun as it is, to do a good deed, so do as much as you can in your own time and whatever you can handle,” she said.

On Oct. 1 Shabrang will be helping with the Edmonds Clean Sweep shoreline cleanup on Byrn Creek in Burnaby. The event begins at 9:45 a.m. and runs until noon. The location is near the Edmonds Skytrain station for those using transit.

To get involved with S.A.F.E, visit the club’s Facebook page or contact Fieda Shabrang at frida.shabrang@kwantlen.net

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