We Grow Trees Challenge
At the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), the Healthy Workplace Committee has led We Grow Trees, a challenge that aims to promote the connection between a healthy lifestyle and a healthy environment. Participants are learning to grow a tree from seed to sapling, and will plant their young trees on campus in the spring of 2016. UOIT’s Healthy Workplace Committee held a kick-off event in November, has created information packages to support participants through the challenge, and will host a celebration BBQ with prizes offered for the tallest tree, the tree with biggest leaves, and the first tree to sprout above the soil. We Grow Trees helps create a direct link between UOIT staff and their environment, and planting the young trees contributes to carbon sequestration and creates wildlife habitat on campus.
Give a Shirt
In October 2015, the GTA offices of GWL Realty Advisors participated in a clothing drive to collect to 100 new and gently used shirts for the Good Shepherd Shelter. The Good Shepherd Shelter serves 1,500 meals a day and provides shelter for 91 men every night. “For some, the Good Shepherd Shelter provides an opportunity to start again. We believe that providing new and gently used clothes helps with this transformation and ultimately contributes to healthy communities when individuals can become self-sufficient,” said the GWL Realty Advisors member of staff who led the initiative. “Further, this campaign also reduces landfill by diverting used clothing away from landfills, and reduces resource utilization by avoiding the manufacturing of new garments.” By the end of the campaign, participants reached more than double their original goal, collecting 276 shirts.
In October 2015, Great-West Life (GWL) in Winnipeg coordinated a two-week campaign to encourage employees to pitch old electronics in an environmentally friendly way. Rather than letting old devices go to landfill, employees brought them into the office to place in collection bins. Together, GWL employees collected over 2,500 pounds of electronics including radios, phones, CD/DVD players and one (very!) antique computer – staff report their most impressive find was a Commodore Vic20 hailing from the 1980s. Most items were no longer functional and staff commented that there were very happy to dispose of them safely without contaminating landfill.
During their Campaign project, GWL partnered with the Electronic Products Recycling Association (EPRA) and employees learned about EPRA’s efforts to keep over 15 million devices out of Canadian landfills every year through convenient and regulated e-recycling programs.
Hike Club, Bike Club, and Bike Swap
To coincide with bike month in May 2016, Lorie Miller in Brampton, ON, has teamed up with a local elementary school to create an afterschool Hike Club and Bike Club. She has led families through walks and bike rides that educate them on tree ID, watershed health, and safe cycling skills, and that give them a way to get to know the community’s multi-use trails. To help community members prepare for Bike Club, she also organized a school bike swap in April 2016 – with an impressive 26 donated bikes and scooters making their way to new homes! Lorie’s efforts don’t end there; in May, she is leading a Jane’s Walk in her community, during which she plans to promote conversation on how individuals can rethink active transportation. In June, she is also organizing family-friendly bike ride to encourage members of her community to take advantage of nearby parks and trails.
GWL’s Health and Wellness Fair
In October 2015, the Great-West Life (GWL) office in London, Ontario, ran a Health and Wellness fair to raise awareness of giving back to the community and the environment. Over 400 attendees learned about the environmental initiatives of participating organizations. Pollution Probe shared its primers on human and environmental health; London Hydro offered information on its electricity and water reduction methods; GWL’s in-house Corporate Properties department presented their recycling and composting program; and the City of London discussed carpooling and other means of Active Transportation, as did the non-profit CANBike. The fair also offered drop-offs for electronics and expired medications, as well as used clothing for donation to the Canadian Diabetes Association. Attendees also participated in the Purple Hats campaign where employees, friends and family knit and donated purple hats to raise awareness about shaken baby syndrome, with just over 900 hats collected.
EduTOX Video Challenge
The EduTOX Video Challenge was designed to engage young people, ages 14-22, in promoting awareness and action on toxins – and a chance to be nationally recognized for their leadership. From January to March 2015, youth across Canada were invited to create short, compelling videos to get people thinking about and taking action on the toxins that we encounter in our day-to-day lives.
To see top EduTOX submissions, visit: http://sandboxproject.ca/eduTOX#!/entries
EduTOX was a partnered project are Pollution Probe, Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment (CPCHE), the David Suzuki Foundation, the New Brunswick Lung Association, The Sandbox Project, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, the University of Ottawa, and the Young Canadians Roundtable on Health.
Set up a Walking School Bus
Safe Routes to School in the US has developed a guide on setting up a walking school bus in your community. Heading to school on foot helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution while adding movement to children’s days.
Facilitate Bicycle Commuting at Your Workplace
Citizens for Safe Cycling in Ottawa, ON, has written a guide for commuter cyclists who want to improve cycling facilities at work and eliminate barriers to bicycle commuting. This guide offers practical tips on getting started, information on how to keep the initiative going, and other useful resources.
Vélo Québec has also written a how-to guide for setting up bicycle parking facilities at your workplace, including practical tips from planning to installation.
Join the Classroom Energy Diet Challenge
The Classroom Energy Diet Challenge engages Canadian classrooms from Kindergarten to Grade 12 in a series of challenges that increase energy literacy and awareness. Classrooms work together to complete 25 challenges that are designed to teach students about energy topics like carbon foot printing, food, transportation, recycling, and renewable energy. Each classroom decides which challenges it completes and what order to complete them in. Classrooms must sign up by mid-January, and the Challenge runs from February to April.
Start an Energy Efficiency Awareness Program
Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency provides a detailed, step-by-step guide to developing an effective Energy Efficiency Awareness Program at your workplace. It covers topics including assembling a team, establishing a baseline, formulating objectives, developing a communications plan, and evaluating your successes.
Join the Radon Action Challenge
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can seep into homes through cracks and gaps in the foundation and build up to harmful levels. To increase awareness of radon gas, workplaces and communities are participating in Pollution Probe’s Radon Action Challenge. To date, over 40 workplaces and communities across Canada are testing for radon.Sign Up
Start a Lunchtime Walking Group
Studies tell us that group nature walks can be great health boosters. Organizing a lunchtime walking group can get you and your colleagues outdoors and on the move. To help you get started, the British Columbia Recreation and Parks Association (BCRPA) has put together a toolkit to help organizations set up walking programs. It offers information on how to plan the initiative, spread the word, avoid pitfalls, and keep people motivated.
Set up a Vermicomposting Bin
A simple, engaging project for a community centre, classroom, or even an office. Adding worms to your compost bin quickly turns plant-based food waste into nutritious soil. Green Calgary in Alberta has written a guide to setting up a vermicomposting bin, proving a good set of general instructions and helpful tips on putting together your bin.
Create a Rooftop Garden
An ambitious project that several companies in Canada have already adopted. This detailed guide, published by Alternatives and The Rooftop Garden Project in Quebec, is designed to help groups, individuals, and institutions set up an urban rooftop garden that offers educational, social, therapeutic or environmental benefits. The guide helps you choose your site, design the project, and pick your plants.
Build a Living Wall
To make the most of small spaces, grow your garden vertically! The Silverhill Institute of Environmental Research and Conservation in Toronto, Ontario has produced a step-by-step guide to installing a living wall in a home or office.
Looking for More Ideas?
The David Suzuki Foundation created this one-page guide to running a skill swap auction at work. Skill-sharing is a great way to build community, save money and reduce consumption. Learn More
The David Suzuki Foundation also put together a guide on workplace greening, including tips on where to start, how to set up a team, and offering specific initiative ideas. Learn More
Environmental Defense has developed great tip sheets for workplace greening Learn More