Five ways to make the holiday season sustainable 

ornament on tree

This holiday season, the Office of Sustainability encourages York community members to make sustainable changes that contribute to the overall well-being of the planet. These tips also align with York’s contributions to the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Here are five ways to maximize holiday cheer while reducing your environmental footprint:  

1. Unplug and conserve energy  

Switch your holiday lighting decorations from incandescent lights to LED lights. Use a timer to control when lights should be turned on or off and remember to unplug any electronics or appliances when they are not in use.  

Did you know: These energy efficient tips align with the University’s goals to foster a culture of sustainability on campus and in our communities. Saving energy will help to advance the UN SDG 13: Climate Action. As a leader in sustainability, the University is committed to reducing carbon emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 and being carbon neutral on or before 2049.  

2. Reuse, recycle to reduce waste   

Generate less waste by purchasing gifts that are long-lasting, reusable or recyclable. Consider gifting an experience instead of material goods or staying away from using single-use plastic for gift wrapping by switching to reusable containers, bags or recyclable paper.   

Did you know: York recognizes the negative impacts of single-use plastics and is committed to reusing and managing waste better through its ZeroWaste program, in line with UN SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. Some elements of the ZeroWaste program include a Green Cleaning Initiative and tri-bins around campus. The University has also phased out the sale of single use plastic water bottles to help divert waste.   

3. Give back to community organizations   

Make a difference and support your community by donating or volunteering with an organization. Bring canned items or leftover holiday meals to local shelters or food banks. Or donate new or unused clothing by visiting one of several clothing donations bins on Keele Campus.   

Did you know: York alumni are 13.5 per cent more likely to have volunteered in the past 12 months than other university graduates in the GTA.  

4. Support local businesses 

Local businesses are the backbone of our economy. Shop close to home, purchase locally made and ethically sourced products, and prepare meals with groceries from a local farmers market.  

Did you know: York University supports a local approach and understands the role it can play in encouraging local prosperity, in line with UN SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities. The University has spent $2 million at local and diverse-owned businesses and social enterprises, which helps to reduce environmental impacts and build more resilient communities.   

5Reduce food waste   

It is important to be mindful of food waste during the holiday season by implementing simple changes to support a healthy environment. Instead of disposing of leftovers, try new recipes with food prepared from a previous meal or send guests home with food containers to enjoy the next day. The holiday season is also a perfect time to start meal preparations.   

Did you know: York University has an organic waste program that helps divert food waste? Kitchenettes are equipped with an organic waste container and there are multiple outdoor organic digesters on campus that allow community members to conveniently throw out organic waste. 

To learn more about the Office of Sustainability, visit here