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11 ways to make this school year your most sustainable yet
by Alena Blanes | September 13, 2019

It’s easy going green.

I used to live for back to school shopping. Every year, I’d eagerly scour the aisles at Staples to pick out the latest floral notebook or locker accessory I convinced my mom I could not start grade 5 without.

These days, I’ve traded my obsession for rainbow binders and gel pens for a different philosophy. While it’s fun to fill our carts with abandon, all that spending comes with a price–or two. Over-consumption is a major problem in North America, with the average Canadian spending over $500 a year in back-to-school shopping. Not to mention, the environmental impacts of our spending habits is nothing short of outrageous.

I reached out to Humber’s Office of Sustainability for tips on how us students can be a little greener this semester, and they did not disappoint.

Here are 11 easy ways to make this year your most sustainable yet:

 

1. Choose fair trade options on campus

girl pouring fairtrade coffee

In 2017, Humber Lakeshore was designated as the first Fairtrade-certified campus in Ontario, followed by the North campus in 2019. By advocating for Fairtrade products, we are collectively showing support for small-scale farmers and their livelihoods. When you choose Fairtrade on campus, you also are helping Humber College in its commitment to be the healthiest campus in Canada.

So, what is Fairtrade?

Simply put, it’s a movement of non-profit organizations that works to improve the livelihood of agricultural producers in developing countries. This is established by ensuring they receive a fair price for the products they grow, create and sell. Discover what Fairtrade means at Humber.

 

2. Get thrifty

clothing hanging on racks in thrift store
Photo by Prudence Earl on Unsplash

Save money and ditch fast fashion this school year by buying your clothes and school supplies second hand. Not only does a new wardrobe do damage for your wallet, but the clothing industry is also the second-largest polluter in the world.

For clothing, hit up your local thrift store or check out the digital community on Depop, Bunz, Carousell, or Facebook Marketplace. Facebook Marketplace is also a fantastic place to find used textbooks, laptops, cameras, and even furniture. Heck, you can furnish your student house while you’re at it too!

Check out our 5 favourite Toronto thrift stores.

 

3. Try a sustainable course at Humber

female student smailes at another student as they study in Humber spaces

Did you know there are courses you can take to advance your interest in sustainability? From chemistry to gender and diversity, and citizenship, you’re sure to find an elective to fuel your passions.

Check out the full list of available sustainability courses available at Humber.

 

4. Ditch single-use plastics

woman leaning hand
Photo by SWZLE on Unsplash

Say buh-bye to plastic forks and single-use water bottles. Instead, opt for the eco-friendly and cheaper alternatives. Carry a reusable cup, cutlery set, straw and bottle with you around campus to help beat plastic pollution!

 

5. Put waste in its correct place

Humber garbage sorting container

Make smart choices when it comes to throwing out waste and recyclables. If you’re not sure where something goes, ask the sustainability team or throw it in the waste bin so it does not contaminate the recycling. Check out the full breakdown of what you can recycle on campus.

 

6. Rethink your commute

Toronto subway leaving the station
Photo by Jed Dela Cruz on Unsplash

Love it or hate it, public transit is the reality for a lot of us when it comes to getting around. And while the sights, sounds and smells may not be favourable, it’s a small compromise for the environment. Pop your headphones in and sit back, you’re riding green.

If you can’t part with your vehicle, consider joining Enterprise carshare for only $1 or take advantage of carpooling to snag one of Humber’s designated carpooling parking spots.

And if you bike to campus, take advantage of the secured bike rooms and self-serve repair stations. With chilly temperatures on the way, you won’t want to miss out on these.

 

7. Practice #MeatlessMondays 

vegan burgers on a tray
Photo by Rustic Vegan on Unsplash

Meat production is responsible for a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions. The meat industry is also responsible for the calculated burning of thousands of hectares of the Amazonian rainforest. By choosing to reduce the amount of meat you consume and focusing on primarily a plant-based diet, you are not only reducing the amount of water and resources that go into your food, but also the release of harmful carbon emissions.

Choosing #MeatlessMonday is an easy small step that can have a big impact. For meat-free eats check out our pick’s for best vegan restaurants in and around Toronto.

 

8. Buy used textbooks

Student flipping through a textbook at the Humber library

We all dread the semesterly tradition of forking over summer savings for textbooks we likely won’t even read (or open, let’s be real). But what if you could save money and paper at the same time?

It’s as easy as buying used books. The Humber Bookstore is a great on-campus resource to find titles and materials you need. They even have an extensive list of copies you can rent for the semester!

Another option is seeking out books from fellow students on Facebook groups and websites. It’s easier to negotiate a price and you can meet up right on campus! Some of our faves are: University of Guelph-Humber Used Textbooks, Humber College Book Exchange, and Buy and Sell Humber College Textbooks.

Buying e-copies of your textbooks is also an easy swap from traditional paperback covers. And it’s typically a lot cheaper too.

Got old books? Drop them off at a campus drop box to support Textbooks for Change in East Africa. Last year, over 4000 pounds of books were diverted from landfill.

 

9. Participate in campus cleanups

man cleaning up garbage
Photo by Yannes Kiefer on Unsplash

The Office of Sustainability hosts a ton of fun and interactive activities year-round. From campus cleanups to zero waste challenges and sustainability panels, there’s something for everyone.

Follow @sustainhumber on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on upcoming campus activities.

 

10. Refuse swag you don’t actually need

campus fair on Humber

The best way to live a more sustainable lifestyle is to simply reduce your waste intake. This means refusing to purchase extra school supplies, clothes, or tech you just don’t need. This also relates to swag from events and giveaways.

If you know you won’t use it, just simply refuse it.

 

11. Educate yourself on how Humber is a sustainable community and spread the word!

students engaging with Sustainability office

Did you know Humber is working to be the healthiest campus in Canada?

Here are some other little-known facts:

  • Since 2005, Humber has cut water consumption by 50%
  • In 2017, Humber diverted 72% of its waste from landfill
  • Paper towels and toilet paper on campus are 100% recycled paper
  • The 105-acre Humber Arboretum is home to over 50% of Canada’s birds, 40% of Canada’s native plants and 66% of our reptiles.
  • Humber College has been recognized as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for four consecutive years (2016-2019)
  • Since 2013, water refill stations on campus have prevented over 5.5 million plastic bottles out of landfills and oceans
  • The Barett CTI is built with LEED platinum standards and is net-zero energy

To keep up with the Office of Sustainability, make sure to follow them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Have questions about sustainability? Stop by the new Office of Sustainability to meet the team and get your questions answered (E103, North campus) or email sustainability@humber.ca.


Looking for more eco-friendly content? Read more on how Humber is making waves in sustainability.

Interested in trying zero waste? Check out how one student went plastic-free for a week.

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