While the University of Toronto continues to make progress towards its goal of becoming climate positive by 2050, students, staff, and faculty can also make sustainable choices in our daily lives to help protect the environment and promote a more sustainable future. Climate Positive Energy connected with Scott Hendershot, Senior Manager at U of T’s Sustainability Office, on some of the choices we can make to minimize our environmental impacts during day-to-day campus activities. A professional engineer with broad knowledge, Scott has a keen interest and a dedication to caring for planet earth, which drive his motivation to deliver sustainable change across U of T and beyond.

“The Sustainability Office on the St. George campus is on an ongoing mission to embed sustainability into the fabric of University operations and the on-campus experience,” said Scott. “Anyone and any group can get involved in this activity, because we are all empowered to be change agents.”

See Scott’s top five sustainable change choices below:

1. Make more sustainable choices on residence.
Take advantage of the longer days and open those windows to use natural light whenever possible. Consider sharing small appliances like printers and kettles with your roommates. When it’s laundry day, use non-toxic and biodegradable detergents, and wash your clothes in cold water instead of hot. Share these sustainable tips with your roommates for even more impact.

2. Make your office more sustainable.
Workplace teams can take sustainable approaches to their operations and product use. Consider commuting into your office using public transit or carpooling, instead of driving yourself in. Instead of printing out agendas and meeting items, e-mail them to your teammates prior to the meeting. Set your computer to low-power mode during breaks, and before logging off for the day, unplug or turn off any computers, multi-outlet strips, and other electronics devices like printers and scanners.

3. Embed sustainable practices into your event planning.
Events of all sizes can benefit from digital ticketing, as well as more mindful practices when it comes to selecting food and catering options. If your event is in-person, host it outdoors in sunny weather, or in a LEED-certified building to reduce energy consumption. Plan ahead to reduce food waste, offer water refill stations instead of bottle water, and opt for reusable or recyclable food containers if possible.

4. Consider sustainability in lab spaces.
Create sustainable behaviours within and beyond lab settings when it comes to conserving energy, waste, and water. Consider using the least energy-intensive chemical route for experiments when possible, and source lab equipment from vendors that reduce packaging or use sustainable packaging. Plus, reuse this packaging when shipping out from the lab.

5. Take a certified sustainable course.
The Sustainable Courses program, offered by the Sustainability Office, recognizes those that take steps to encourage environmentally responsible course practices, including reducing the use of paper and incorporating sustainability-related content in their course. A comprehensive guide provides faculty and TAs with checklists, best practices, and resources to encourage sustainable practices in the classroom and beyond – for example, ensuring electronic versions of textbooks are available.

Bonus: Get certified in a Sustainable Change Program!
The Sustainable Change Programs were designed to engage and empower U of T students, staff and faculty to actively follow sustainable practices in offices, residences, event planning, labs and courses across campus through a self-assessment certification process. Anyone can get certified, and each sustainable change program has its own web page with information that will guide you towards certification: an overview, program highlights, and resources. Learn more at fs.utoronto.ca/sustainability/sustainable-change-programs.