A sustainable new school year

Dave Cano smiling at the camera. There is greenery behind him.

David Cano, McMaster's director of sustainability, provides tips for a more sustainable new school year.

As McMaster’s director of sustainability, Dave Cano is encouraging university community members to learn about ways we can all help make decisions that lessen our impact on climate change and protect the environment. 

“As McMaster students, faculty and staff start preparing for a fresh start with a new academic year, it is also a good time to think about ways we create new habits that promote a more sustainable community,” says Cano.  

“For example, you could start by learning about how your commute, teaching, learning and working experiences align with McMaster’s newly revised Sustainability Policy. The policy also includes campus-wide commitments for water and waste management, growing and protecting green spaces on campus, and engaging with local communities.” 

Here are Cano’s top five ways students, faculty and staff can contribute to achieving sustainability goals: 

1.Help conserve energy and water whenever possible.

Shut down the lights when you leave a room, use less water and turn off electronics when not in use.

2.Make use of the natural spaces within and around main campus in a responsible manner.

We are neighbours to the Royal Botanical Gardens and Cootes Paradise, which is a significant migratory bird flyover zone and home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. We can help conserve all environmentally sensitive areas around campus.

3.Make use of sustainable modes of transportation.

We have several SoBi stations on campus where you can rent a bike to move through and outside of main campus. Have your own bike? Consider getting a permit for bike lockers on campus. All full-time undergraduate students have unlimited access to the Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) bus system.  The HSR app can help map your ride and get you to and from campus.

4.Sort waste properly.

Make sure you separate all recycling and composting materials and put them in the appropriate bins. Work in an office, or have a student club or planning an event? Consider joining students, faculty and staff in becoming a Compost Champion.

5.Learn more about sustainability at McMaster:

McMaster has created a Sustainability Strategy aligned with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development goals (UN SDGs). The university is installing electric boilers to reduce carbon emissions on campus as part of the university’s Net Zero Carbon Roadmap, created a Sustainable Procurement program, planted a Carbon Sink Forest, led incredible amounts of research on climate change, and so much more. 

“Changing behaviour can feel overwhelming, especially when we see the news about the magnitude of the impacts from climate change,” says Cano.

“It really just takes that first step, and then another and another. Even little changes on campus can add up, such as switching to a reusable water bottle, donating used electronics or food to the Community Fridge on campus, or even switching your web browser to help plant trees.”   

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