York U marks sustainability with a month of informative activities

trees near the lake

October is Campus Sustainability Month. Organized in partnership with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), Campus Sustainability Month is an opportunity for colleges and universities across North America to organize events and information campaigns to advance sustainability on campuses and in communities.

York University has put together a number of events to mark Campus Sustainability Month. The activities will take place in the Red Zone in Vari Hall on Oct. 11 and 18, from 10am to 2pm each day.

Oct. 11 – Lug-a-Mug program and Fair Trade coffee

LugAMug graphic that tells people they can save 25 cents on a cup of coffee or teaDisposable paper cups make up a substantial portion of the waste stream at York University. While many might think that the cups are recyclable, in fact they must be placed in the garbage bins at the Keele and Glendon campuses. As a result, the daily consumption of coffee creates a significant amount of landfill waste. To help alleviate the problem, York Universities’ Food Services and Waste Management Departments in Campus Services & Business Operations (CSBO) created the Lug-A-Mug program, which offers a discount of up to 25¢ on coffee or tea for anyone who brings their own reusable mug with them. Truly a win-win proposition: bring your own mug, save money, and help to reduce landfill waste at the same time.

Oct. 11 – Fair Trade coffee and tea

FairTrade graphicWhen you’re filling your mug with coffee or tea, look for Fair Trade options at Food Services/Aramark locations and other vendors across campus. The fair trade movement empowers producers by ensuring they have access to the rights they deserve. This includes fair prices and higher living standards for producers, higher standards for labour and sustainability, access to health and education, and access to credit, markets, resources and industry knowledge.

For more information, visit the Fair Trade Canada website and the Canadian Fair Trade Network website. There will be an information event on fair trade that will take place in Vari Hall on Oct. 11. Drop by for a chance to win a reusable coffee mug and fair trade prize pack.

Oct. 18 – ZeroWaste at York U

Bin with slots for garbage, paper and plastic and cans
External recycle bins can be found at numerous locations on York University’s campuses

Waste Reduction Week in Canada takes place Oct. 17 to 23. The week serves as a reminder for all community members to reduce, reuse, recycle and rethink waste. Waste Reduction Week started in the 1980s at the local level. It has since expanded to become a national campaign to build awareness around issues of sustainable and responsible consumption, environmentally responsible products and services, and actions that can be taken to divert more waste from disposal and conserve natural resources.

Representatives from York University’s ZeroWaste initiative will be in the Red Zone on Oct. 18. ZeroWaste is a comprehensive waste management and diversion program. With dedicated bins for recycling (and in some areas, composting) the ZeroWaste program achieved a waste diversion rate of 68 per cent in 2016.

To learn more about the ZeroWaste program and ways to reduce your waste, visit the ZeroWaste website and the Sustainability website.

Did you know?

A table loaded with Free Stuff donation bins
A table loaded with Free Stuff donation bins

For the past five years, the FreeStuff program at York University has been working to reduce the waste generated during the residence move-out period by encouraging students to swap unwanted items or donate them to charity. FreeStuff tables are set up in each of the undergraduate residences (and some graduate residences) during the month of April. Students are able to place their unwanted clothes, books and household items for others to take, and at the end of the move-out period, all remaining items are donated to the Oasis Clothing Bank. In 2016, the FreeStuff tables collected more than 1,000 kilograms of stuff, which is equivalent to the weight of a small car!

York University is a member of AASHE. To find out more about sustainability at the University, visit the Sustainability website or the CSBO website.