Category Archives: Helping the community

Amazing people doing great things locally, nationally and internationally and opportunities for students to volunteer and get involved with community projects.

Common Good Coffee Roasters: more than just your daily coffee

You love their coffee but do you know their story?

Common Good card

As part of Fairtrade Fortnight, we’re getting up close and personal with people and businesses connected to UC who are making the world a better (and fairer) place. Read on to learn about the people behind UCSA’s fair trade coffee supplier, Common Good Coffee – who are bringing us much more than just good coffee!

So what makes Common Good Coffee so special?

On top of a banging roast and a 100% commitment to a fair trade supply chain, Common Good Coffee is using its profits for good in Aotearoa and around the world. From the fair trade principles behind their coffee supply, to the roasting of that same coffee right here in Christchurch, and the reinvestment of their profits into communities around the world, Common Good Coffee is a very, very good time. And the best bit is, all you have to do be a part of their story is simply drink their coffee!

The man behind your coffee addiction: Vernon roasts (and delivers) kilos of coffee each week to UC

So, about that coffee…

The coffee you’re sipping on has come a long way before the baristas at UC (and you) got their hot little hands on it. For example, the Ethiopian Sidamo coffee bean that makes up your brew has come all the way from the Oromia Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Union of Ethiopia (OCFCU).

The Layo Teraga Cooperative in Southern Ethiopia (part of the OCFCU) currently has 1200 members and has maintained Fairtrade certification since 2009. Since becoming certified, the fair trade social premium has paid for depulping equipment, two transport trucks, and in 2010 the community was able to build an elementary school. Before this, the nearest school was a two hour walk away.

Common Good Coffee also contributed directly to the building of the elementary school – last year they donated $19,000 towards teacher’s accommodation, allowing itinerant teachers to spend less time travelling and more time teaching.

Elementary school - common goodTeacher’s accommodation in the Layo Teranga cooperative’s elementary school, Sidamo/Guji region, southern Ethiopia

But wait, there’s more!

Common Good ladies Kolkata

He aha te mea nui o te ao
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata

What is the most important thing in the world?
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people

Before, we mentioned that Common Good Coffee reinvested their profits into communities around the world. This is where the bigger picture stuff comes in: Common Good Coffee Roasters is actually part of a wider business called Common Good, based in Kolkata, India. Common Good has since created jobs for fifteen women to make products like bags and wristbands, which are proudly worn all around the world. Better still, 100% of the profits from Common Good are going directly to services like sanitation, clean water and education – meaning not only do fifteen women have dignified and meaningful work, but their families and communities are now able to make choices that weren’t available to them before.

And finally, they get local too

Just in case you thought they were done…

Addington Coffee Co-op

Common Good Coffee is roasted at Addington Coffee Co-op, 297 Lincoln Road (definitely worth checking out, make sure you go hungry), and they recently donated $100,000 to the local Addington Primary School. The Addington Te Kura Taumatua Whanua Room was funded by Common Good to grow community connections within the school, and is used by a diverse range of people from the school community.

whanau room

So, it’s more than just a cup of coffee! (but at the same time, it’s all about that cup of coffee…). And to think that every time you buy a Common Good Coffee from Shilling Club, Collective, Cafe 1894 or Chilton’s, you’re actually directly contributing to all the above goodness…. who knew making good more common would be so easy?!

Want to know more about Common Good and what they’re doing locally and globally? Come and meet them at our annual Fair Trade Fair on Wednesday 14 August, 11am – 1pm in Haere-roa. We’ll be showcasing the incredible suppliers that make our Fair Trade University possible, and celebrate the impact they are having on communities around the world. See the Facebook event here for all the details.

This message was brought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Stay connected and follow us on Facebook, Instagram or sign up to our newsletter to stay in the loop about campus sustainability. This is part of our contribution to Fairtrade Fortnight, where we encourage our UC community to get involved and support the empowerment of producers overseas. For more information on the fair trade movement, see the Fairtrade NZ website.

 

DIY Beeswax Wraps for Plastic Free July!

Last week, UC Sustainability held a DIY workshop to celebrate our favourite month – Plastic Free July!

Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be a part of the solution to plastic pollution. It’s a month long challenge which encourages all of us to ‘choose to refuse’ single use plastics – like takeaway coffee cups, drink bottles, straws, bags and plastic wrappers. We decided we would tackle Plastic Free July by showing our UC community how to make their own alternatives to single use plastics – and we had so much fun doing so!

Almost 100 students (and staff too!) came along and learnt how to make a DIY beeswax wrap and a produce bag with us, so we could all ‘choose to refuse’ this month (and hopefully longer!).For those that missed out, we’ve put together a guide for making your own wraps at home – they make great presents for friends and family too! Read on to see how we made our own beeswax wraps with nothing but some organic beeswax (grated), cotton fabric, scissors, baking paper and an iron. We hope you’ll be inspired to tackle Plastic Free July with us!

Step one: gather your materials

We recommend using only 100% cotton for making beeswax wraps – but don’t feel as though you have to rush off to a fabric store! All the fabric in these photos are either old tee shirts, or are from second hand stores (sheets and pillow cases are usually 100% cotton, and come in funky patterns – just give them a wash and an iron before use). If you want to buy new, Spotlight often has sales on cotton, and there’s a heap of different fabrics to choose from.

We sourced our beeswax from a friend who has bees, but you can get unpackaged beeswax in a small block from most Farmers Markets (including Riccarton Bush and Lyttelton). Binn Inn also sells beeswax in small cubes, but we prefer a block for grating.

We went through a whopping 1kg of beeswax making 100 wraps, but 100g – 200g of beeswax will be more than enough for making your wraps at home!

Step two: cut to size
What sizes you’re after is totally up to you! Here’s the guidelines we used:

  • Small (17cm x 20xm) is good for covering leftover dips, the end of a cucumber, half an avo, or the last mouthful of cheese
  • Medium (31cm x 27cm) is the popular size – it covers a small plate, wraps a sandwich, fits over the end of a 500g block of cheese and perfect for smaller snacks and treats
  • Big (35cm x 33cm) perfect for a large sandwich, wrap, easily covers salad bowls and leftovers in the fridge, and also doubles as an excellent plate on your picnic!

Step three: let’s make your wraps
Now for the fun part!

1. Place your fabric onto a piece of baking paper (we put a towel down first, to avoid a mess!). Sprinkle a small handful of grated beeswax onto the fabric (less is more, as you can always add more afterwards). Make sure the beeswax is spread evenly.

2. Place another piece of baking paper on top of the fabric.

3. Using the iron, firmly press down onto the baking paper. You’ll see the beeswax melting almost immediately. Iron the baking paper as you would normally iron fabric – making sure the beeswax is pushed all the way into the corners (you’ll be able to see through the baking paper – see the pictures below).

4. When all the beeswax is melted and your fabric looks wet, you’re done. Remove the top layer of baking paper and check the beeswax is melted. It should look like the picture on the left below, with an even amount of melted beeswax. The picture on the right needs another go with the iron to melt and re-spread some of the beeswax that has already started to dry.

5. Next, remove the beeswax from the bottom piece of baking paper and hang to dry before it hardens and sticks (you have to be a bit speedy here, but be careful as the wax will be hot). We recommend pegging the wet wrap to a coat hanger or a washing line. It will only take a few minutes to harden and dry completely.

6. You’re done! You’ve just made a beautiful beeswax wrap which will help you say goodbye to plastic cling film for good (plus it makes for much prettier lunches!). To use, wrap around your food or bowl as you would with plastic wrap, and use the warmth of your hands to ‘seal’ the wrap in place. Instant eco-warrior!

Just a few things to note…

  • to clean your wrap, gently hand wash in cool water with a small amount of dishwashing liquid. Hot water will remove the beeswax!
  • please don’t cover raw meat with your wrap – if you need to cover raw meat, use a container or cover it with another plate in the fridge
  • if your wrap starts to lose its ‘stick’ – simply begin the process again! You’ll be able to re-wax and continue to use your wrap for years to come. If it eventually starts to look a little worse for wear, pop it into your compost bin (another reason we love cotton!).

Thanks to everyone who came along to the workshop last week, we hope you had as much fun as we did, and are enjoying using your beeswax wraps. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for more Plastic Free July activities later this week, including student bloggers and the last of our plastic free giveaways!

If you make these at home, we’d love to see the results! Send your best wrap pictures to sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz. 

This message was bought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Stay connected and follow us on Facebook, Instagram or sign up to our newsletter to stay in the loop about campus sustainability. This is part of our contribution to Plastic Free July, where we encourage our UC community quit single use plastics for the month. For more information and tips, see the Plastic Free July website.

Students run to raise awareness for rare genetic condition

A group of 25 students from the University of Canterbury are running in the ASB Christchurch Marathon to raise awareness about Williams Syndrome. These students join the thousands of people around the world who help the Williams Syndrome Associations to raise awareness about the condition. The event will take place on 2 June in the Christchurch CBD.

The awareness campaign initially kicked off last year when one of the teams members, George, ran the Queenstown Half Marathon to raise awareness and funds for the New Zealand Williams Syndrome Association (NZWSA) biannual camp. George’s connection to the rare genetic condition stems from his younger brother Henry, who has Williams Syndrome. Henry was diagnosed with the condition when he was 18 months old in 2004. George and his family have been active members of the NZWSA since becoming members of the association 13 years ago in 2005.

This year the biannual camp was held in January at Living Springs in Christchurch. The camp provides the perfect opportunity for parents, siblings and people living with Williams Syndrome to learn more about the condition, make friends and become part of the Williams Syndrome Family. After being commended by a number of members of the association the idea to gather a group of runners to raise awareness about the condition was born.

So, what is Williams Syndrome? Williams Syndrome is a rare genetic condition caused by the spontaneous deletion of 26-28 genes on chromosome #7. The condition is present at birth and affects 1 in 10,000 people worldwide. In New Zealand there are approximately 200 people living with Williams Syndrome. Williams Syndrome is characterised by mild to moderate intellectual disability or learning problems, unique personality characteristics, distinctive facial features (as seen in the photo), and heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) problems. People with Williams Syndrome are extremely social, friendly and endearing, they also often have a strong affinity to music.

The condition is still relatively unknown by general public, educators and many doctors. It is hoped that a greater awareness about the condition will help improve the unique challenges the condition can create. For the general public, it is hoped that an improved understanding will help people become more accepting of people with special needs and disabilities. A greater awareness will help educators overcome unique challenges teaching children with Williams Syndrome. A better awareness about the condition will also help doctors complete early diagnosis of Williams Syndrome. This is helpful to provide key resources to new parents of children with the condition.

Along with running and creating fundraising pages, “Williams Syndrome Wednesday” posts have been made to the NZWSAs Instagram (@williamssyndromenz) and Facebook accounts. These posts give people with Williams Syndrome a chance to share a story about what it is like to have the condition. For parents of younger children with Williams Syndrome, these posts show them that like anyone, people with the condition can live meaningful and successful lives. If you would like to check out these posts have a look at the NZ Williams Syndrome Instagram or Facebook page.

The money raised through fundraising will go towards the costs associated with running the bi-annual camps. So far the team have raised a total of over $4200 for the NZWSA. If you would like to support the teams fundraising by making a donation or learn more about the condition, click on the givealittle page link and NZWSA Facebook page link provided below. We currently have less than a week before the end of our fundraising campaign.

Fundraising Page: https://givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/help-george-run-for-williams-syndrome

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/WilliamsSyndromeNZ/