Sustainability Tips

There are many, small, steps we can all take individually in our daily lives to become more sustainable.

Here, you may find a selection of sustainability tips divided in categories.

Get Involved!

Sustainable Transportation

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  • Deree Shuttle Bus
  • Ride your Bike: Stay fit and lower your eco-footprint!
  • Carpool: Save money on gas, chat with friends on the way or make new friends, and lower your carbon emissions all at the same time!
  • Walk: Do you live relatively close to the campus? Take a nice walk instead of the car
  • Public Transportation: Riding the bus and/or taking the metro is much more sustainable than taking a car

Sustainability on Campus

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  • Recycle: Make use of our recycling bins placed all around campus. Check the visual signage on the bins if you are in doubt of what goes where!
  • Respect the Smoke Free zones: All indoor spaces, including the corridors, are designated smoke free zones. Please make sure that you only smoke in open-air spaces where smoking is allowed
  • Go digital: Do you really need printed materials and hard copies? Think before you print! Think before you buy!
  • Do you live in a residency building? Make sure to turn off all appliances, lights, heaters, etc., when you leave for study break or vacations
  • Do not take more than what you eat: When eating at the dining hall fill in your plate with how much you can actually eat and/or avoid purchasing more than one plate at a time
  • Reduce & Reuse: Invest in a few essential, reusable, items (thermos, water bottle, lunchbox, etc.) to assist in the reduction of waste

Sustainability at the Office

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  • Go paperless: Think twice before you print something. Do you really need it in paper form?
  • Eliminate disposables: Bring your favourite reusable mug with you, a lunchbox from home, a reusable water bottle, and standard cutlery for your meals!
  • Save energy: Make sure you turn off the lights and the air-conditioning when not in office
  • Eliminate phantom-power: Unplug all electronic devices to avoid energy waste
  • Ask your IRM department if the ink and toner cartridges can be refilled or recycled before throwing them out
  • Do not skimp on recycling: Find out where each item in your office can be recycled and dispose of in the appropriate bin!
  • Hold off on the heating/air con: Put an extra layer of clothing on to warm yourself up before turning on the thermostat or air-condition
  • Print on both sides of the paper
  • Make sure your office has at least one large plant in it. They are not only green and pretty, but also great for recycling the air!
  • Print one copy of memos and other inter-office documents and circulate them rather than printing off a separate copy for everyone
  • Practice green procurement
  • Use scrap paper for note-taking
  • Avoid sticky-notes (Post-it) as they are non-recyclable!
  • Skip the coffee capsule: Disposable coffee capsules are 100% non-recyclable. Isn’t it better to enjoy coffee from freshly ground beans, after all?

Sustainability at Home

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  • Cleaning: Opt for natural cleaning products to reduce the impact of toxic chemicals on your health and the environment. Here is a list with 100% natural ways you can clean your home!
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: A classic one that is applicable everywhere! Find more tips and recycling best practices here
  • Laundry time: Extend the life of your clothing and reduce energy by washing full loads of laundry on the cold-water wash setting. It’s a win-win!
  • Decluttering: Regular decluttering of your home and donation or proper disposal of things you no longer use is essential. Say no to the accumulation of unnecessary things today!
  • Warm up or cool down naturally: Open drapes and blinds during the day to let sunlight in and close them at night to keep drafts out
  • Be energy efficient: Check air registers and vents for any obstructions that prevent good air circulation
  • Use natural lighting whenever possible
  • Make a List: When going grocery shopping, prepare a list before you leave the house and stick to it! Bonus tip: Do not shop on an empty stomach, as you will end up buying more than you actually need!
  • Limit food waste: Make sure to check your fridge frequently and consume food before it goes bad
  • When shopping for new appliances factor in the cost of energy in your decision
  • Install low flow shower heads
  • Conserve rainwater and use it for watering your plants!
  • Take shoes off at the entryway and place them on a large mat to avoid tracking in chemicals, dirt and other toxins through your shoes
  • Grass-cycling: Do you have a yard/garden with grass? Use grass clippings for their nutrients and save time and the cost of transporting yard waste. Cut your grass and just let the clippings lie there afterwards!
  • Avoid synthetic fragrances; use essential oils instead

Sustainable Travel

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  • Learn about your destination: Immerse yourself fully into the experience by learning more about the natural environment, culture and history that contributes to each destination’s uniqueness
  • Bring your daily sustainability habits with you: Continue to recycle, use water wisely, and turn off the lights exactly as you would do at home!
  • Be a Fuel-Efficient traveller: Book direct flights or use the train instead when possible, rent smaller cars and keep them running efficiently. Once you are there, walk, bike, or use public transportation as much as possible
  • Choose a sustainable destination: There are many communities around the world which are becoming pioneers in the field of sustainability. So, why not visit one of them in one of your next travels and support their efforts?
  • Be a good guest: Always remember that you are a guest and try to be respectful of local communities and their privacy
  • Support the local economy: Try to support locals as much as possible. Invest your money in local artisans, farmers, and business owners who livelihood depends on tourism
  • Be mindful about waste: Dispose of your waste properly. Compost and recycle when applicable!
  • Protect your natural surroundings: Wildlife and virgin natural environments are to be treasured. Enjoy them fully without disturbing or harming them!
  • Zero-Emissions travel: If you want to go the extra mile, consider the options of purchasing carbon credits, to offset your travel’s impact on the planet
  • Did you adopt a new sustainable habit? Bring your newly found experience at home, continue practicing it, and spread the word!

Sustainable Christmas

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Christmas is the favourite time of the year for many people around the world, but it’s also one of the highest in consumption percentages – food, clothes, toys, decorations, energy, you name it!

Follow these simple tips for a more sustainable Christmas:

  • Scale down by asking these simple questions: Who do you really need to buy for? How much money do you really need to spend? Do these gifts have a purpose and meaning?
  • Avoid buying new: Gift something unique by going secondhand. You may even call it vintage or antique!
  • Focus on quality, not quantity: You may spend a bit more initially, but the lifespan of quality products is significantly higher than that of cheaper ones
  • Opt for gifts made out of sustainable materials: The usual suspects when it comes to gifts are plastic, polyesters, hardwood or other non-sustainable materials. You can replace them with gifts made out of wool, cotton, bamboo, etc.
  • Do you have someone who is the most difficult to buy a gift for? Donate money to his/her favorite charity or plant a tree in his/her name!
  • Choose locally sourced produce & other goods: Supporting your local vendors is not only good for the local economy, but it is gives you the opportunity of knowing how your food is produced while lowering your eco-footprint
  • Shop seasonally: Buying fruits & veggies that are out of season usually means that they have travelled far to reach your plate placing them in a not so eco-friendly scale. Better choose what’s in season. Better for you, better for the environment! You may find our seasonal fruits and veggies chart here.
  • Buy in bulk to avoid packaging waste: This way you will not only protect the environment from pollution, but you will also save some money!
  • Leftover food is your friend: Food waste is a huge issue, especially during the holiday season. Give your guests an extra portion or two when they leave your house (always placed in a reusable container!) and enjoy any leftovers the following days.
  • Composting is the way to go: Composting any food scraps that cannot be used as leftovers if your municipality provides you composting bins
  • Don’t overdo it: We tend to eat too much during the holidays, harming both our bodies and the environment. You can still fully enjoy all the delicious traditional Christmas food, all in good measure!
  • Handmade: Create something truly unique with your own two hands! Make handmade presents for loved ones, as well as, DIY & sustainable Christmas decorations for your tree and home.
  • Homemade: A homemade Christmas cake or gingerbread cookie can make the best gift! The benefits are endless; tasty, smells great, and is 100% Christmassy!!
  • Avoid conventional wrapping paper: Use recycled paper, newspaper, or even fabric instead!
  • Avoid plastic or paper gift bags: Use a reusable one made out of fabric instead and ‘hug’ your present in a very Christmassy, sustainable way!
  • Go for a potted Christmas tree this year: It’s the most sustainable solution! You will share many Christmases together before planting outdoors and it will grow bigger as you grow older/you will grow together as years pass by!
  • Create a natural centerpiece: Use pine cones, poinsettias, and beeswax candles for a perfectly, natural, decorative piece. View it as a gift from Nature!
  • Skip the paper Christmas cards: Send an e-card instead!
  • Celebrate together: Gather all your loved ones in one home and conserve resources. Why not make it a potluck Christmas dinner too? You won’t have to cook a ton of food and you will reduce food waste!
  • Going Christmas shopping or going out on Christmas day? Whatever it is you can carpool all together and make a fun day out of it too while decreasing fuel consumption and traffic!

Food Waste

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  • Shop smart: Plan your meals and check what you already have at home before heading out to the supermarket. Then, make a grocery list and stick to it by avoiding impulse buys!
  • Buy funny-looking produce: Many fruits and vegetables are thrown away because their aesthetic appearance does not quite match what we think these items “should” look like. For the most part, though, these are perfectly good to eat!
  • Have a Plan B: Have you planned a dinner that got cancelled? No need to throw anything in the garbage bin. Instead, make something else with all these ingredients!
  • Practice FIFO: FIFO stands for First In, First Out. When unpacking groceries, move older products to the front of the fridge/freezer/pantry and put new products in the back. This way you ensure using up the older products before they go bad!
  • Take stock: Note upcoming expiration dates on foods you already have bought, and plan meals around the products that are closest to their expiration. Do the equivalent for what you have stored in the freezer/pantry.
  • Plan a ‘use-it-up’ meal once a week: Designate one day every week where you will create a meal out of all the food products, including leftovers, you have left. Look around your fridge/freezer/pantry and improvise! This way you will use food that may otherwise have thrown away and you will not need to buy ingredients for a ‘new meal’.
  • Use leftover food: You can either enjoy leftovers as a meal on the next day or even use them to create a brand new dish!
  • Use it all: When cooking, try using every piece of the food item(s) you are using, whenever possible. For instance, leave the skin on potatoes or sauté broccoli stems along with the florets.
  • Repurpose leftover scraps: Things like the skin from onions or meat scraps can be easily used in homemade stock. Citrus fruits rinds and zest can be used to add flavor to meals or making your own homemade tea.
  • Preserve produce: Just because your produce is nearing the end of its peak (when it’s the freshest) does not mean you need to throw it in the garbage bin. Soft fruit can be used to make delicious smoothies; wilting veggies can be used in soups, etc.
  • Donate: Always check with your local food bank or soup kitchen and donate the food you won’t use.
  • Store food properly in the fridge: Learn how and where to store specific products in the fridge, and they’re likely to keep longer. Same with the freezer and pantry.
  • Compost: Composting is a process through which various organic materials, which would otherwise end up in the garbage bin, are recycled. The resulting material (the compost) can then be used in agriculture, gardening, etc. Most food items are compostable, but make sure you never put the following in a composing bin: meat, bones, fish, dairy products, fats/grease/oil.
  • Split the dish: If eating out and the portion is too gigantic, split the dish with a friend so you avoid food waste. Otherwise, just take the leftovers home to enjoy the next day.

Summer Tips

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  • Hydrate without generating waste: Keeping yourself hydrated is incredibly important, especially during the hot summer months. Instead of going through a ton of plastic bottles, carry a reusable one with you at all times and fill it up in water fountains. Bonus: Phase out all the single-use plastic items (cups, straws, and utensils) and become a Zero-Waste hero!
  • Travel sustainably: Summer means vacation time and trips for most. Yay! This summer consider reducing your ecological footprint by choosing eco-friendly means of transportation. For example, before driving consider the option of taking the train or the bus. If driving, stick to the speed limit to be more fuel-efficient. If flying, consider using an airliner which provides you with an option of purchasing carbon offsets and avoid layovers as frequent take offs and landing use more fuel! Bonus: Pack light. Heavier luggage decreases efficiency and maximizes fuel consumption.
  • Sun dry: Even though you still have to use your washing machine, skip the drier during the summer months and let the sun do what it does best! Shine brightly and warmly and dry your clothes quickly!
  • Camp, picnic, hike sustainably: Summer bring along the opportunity to spend more time outdoors and enjoy nature. Make sure to take advantage of this without disrupting the environment. Leave the place as pristine as you found it! Bonus: if someone before you has littered the area, organize a quick mini-cleanup and leave the place in better shape than you found it.
  • Don’t overdo it with the A/C: We all know how hot summer can be, so turning on the A/C may be the only option left. We just need to make sure it is operating efficiently and minimize energy consumption as much as possible. Always clean out your air filters, only cool the rooms who are using, and keep the vents open for maximum energy efficiency. Bonus: Set the temperature at 25 °C (77 F).
  • Close your shades: The best and most eco-friendly way to keep your home cooler is to close your shares or blinds during the day when the sun is hottest.
  • (Re) Connect with nature: Enjoy a daily 20-minute walk in the sunshine. Exercise while boosting your daily Vitamin D intake in the best way possible!
  • Choose an eco-friendly sunscreen: Most conventional sunscreens come filled with toxic ingredients that do harm to both the environment and you. Now is the time to invest in a product that do NOT contain oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate (Vitamin A) and added insect repellent. Also, avoid sprays, powders and SPF above 50 (EWG, 2018).
  • Natural mosquito repellents: Avoid mosquitos this summer without having to spray yourself with harmful/toxic chemicals by growing plants and herbs that repel them. Choose anything from lavender, marigolds, citronella grass, catnip, rosemary, basil, to scented geraniums!

Sustainable summer vacations? It’s possible! Click here.

Do you need some quick daily tips? Click here.