Staff Sustainability Guide

This guide provides starting points for implementing sustainability and climate action in relation to your work responsibilities. This critical work is informed by diverse perspectives and Indigenous ways of knowing; for example, we can all help enact the tenets of the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant and embed interconnected responsibility for climate justice and action into our individual and collective work at OISE. What follows are suggested sustainability practices and climate actions for you to consider.

Engaging with the OISE Community

Share events with your colleagues and communities from OISE groups related to sustainability, including Sustainability & Climate Action Network, OISE Wellness, Indigenous Education Network (IEN), the Centre for Indigenous Educational Research, and the Centre for Black Studies in Education.

Connect with OISE’s Sustainability & Climate Action Network (SCAN) to help advance our S&CA Plan. Attend OISE’s SCAN webinars, Natural Curiosity webinars, and the annual SCAN conference.

Fund sustainability practices or programs into your department by, for instance, applying to OISE’s Sustainability Fund.

Support OISE students’ involvement in S&CA initiatives through paid learning opportunities (e.g., hire Work Study students to conduct a departmental sustainability audit).

Investigate intersections between the environment  and social justice by learning from Indigenous faculty, staff and students by engaging with the Indigenous Education Network (IEN) and Indigenous U of T

Commit to wellbeing by joining OISE Wellness activities or visiting OISE’s Community Learning Garden. Bring plants into your workspace to improve air quality and support your mental health.

OISE students working with TDSB students

Get in the Flow of Sustainability at OISE

Bottled or filtered water? In the past, many departments at OISE purchased bottled water, which has a large carbon footprint due to extraction, transportation, and plastic pollution. As bottled water will no longer be subsidized at OISE, consider using the filtered water found near the elevators on each floor. Bring a (reusable) pitcher to your next meeting!

Facilities and Services

student tending standing garden

1. Commit to low-carbon transportation (e.g., biking, walking, public transport) when commuting if possible. Check out U of T’s bike repair service and city of Toronto bike lockers available at OISE.

2. Learn about U of T’s waste management system and dispose of waste properly on campus. Repair broken items and donate used items to U of T’s swap shop. Know what gets recycled and what goes to landfill at U of T.

3. Reduce your resource use:

  • Turn off/unplug electronic devices when not in use
  • Use filtered water from OISE’s refillable water stations
  • Replace single-use plastics with reusable alternatives (e.g., mugs and containers)
  • Take the stairs when possible to lower energy consumption (and improve well-being!

4. Reduce paper usage:

  • Digitize documents rather than printing them
  • Use cloud services like SharePoint or Google Docs to share electronic documents
  • Set printer defaults to double-sided (individually and as a department)
  • Get forms signed digitally (e.g., use Adobe signature) rather than on paper

5. Consider the environmental and ethical impacts of purchasing goods and services. Do you really need this item? How long will it last? Do sustainable or used alternatives exist? Where/how was this item produced? Can an existing item be repaired, reused, or recycled?

6. Make vegan, vegetarian, low-waste, and Fair Trade meals the default option when catering meetings or events (offer meat options on request only). Avoid using single-use plastics at events.

Shifting Towards Sustainability at OISE

In 2017, staff in CTL aimed to reduce the use of paper in the department by setting all CTL printers to double-sided printing as the default setting. Single-side printing is still available, but needs to be requested on an ‘as-needed’ basis. Along with providing scanning support for faculty, this has greatly reduced the use (and expense) of paper in the department.

Supporting Curriculum, Teaching & Research

OISE students working on environmental mural

Promote digitization of course readings using University of Toronto Libraries’ Syllabus Service

Support ‘green’ research practices in your department through sustainable conference planning and reducing work-related air travel. Hold virtual meetings when possible.

Suggest including sustainability expertise as a criteria when hiring new staff.

Shifting Towards Sustainability at OISE

OISE Wellness and SCAN have been partnering on webinars and workshops that focus on the clear connections between human well-being and sustainability. Check out their events on the practices of Nature-based Mindfulness, the importance of Nature-based Learning, and how to engage in Sustainable Happiness.