“GRAS and Environmental Action Committee see eye to eye on Sustainability” by Tia McNeil

Glendon Roots & Shoots and Environmental Action Committee see eye to eye on Sustainability

Written by: Co-chair of R& S, Tia McNeil

November 6th, 2013



Glendon Roots & Shoots (G.R.A.S.) has had a chance to speak with Andrew Plunkett, the Sustainability Coordinator of York University, on Sustainability and it’s implication at York. This took place at Glendon’s very first Environmental Action Committee (E.A.C.) meeting. These meetings run Thursday afternoons by the manager of student affairs at Glendon, Aaron Doupe. Aaron Doupe invited G.R.A.S. to check it out and see what we could do to contribute. G.R.A.S. is a student-run organization, affiliated with Jane Goodall Institute that advocates for healthy communities, whether it is the environmental community or the human community. The two meet together and discover many shared concerns about sustainability issues on campus. The need to create an E.A.C. arose mostly over the past summer before the 2013-2014 school year. There was a summer team within student affairs seeking to find environmental initiatives to improve Glendon’s ecological footprint. They even started up a website to share projects and make small differences on campus. However, their initiatives are being taken a step further through the E.A.C. The goal is to find out how really green Glendon is and work on achieving an all-around sustainable standard through person to person interaction. It may not seem like it, but students have a voice, and that voice is as powerful as Richard the Lion’s roar.



Sustainability is built through an arraignment of the Economy, Society and the Environment. The

Economy is created by us, we make the financial choices that affect sustainability. Since Economy was built by us, it is by means a social construct. It fits within our society. Last, but not least, the Environment drives our very existence, but we live within a finite environment and need sustainability to ensure our existence. To me, sustainability is using resources in a way that will allow generations to come to benefit from those same resources. In other words, taking care of the environment and what gives us life so that our descendants may have the same life as us or even better for that matter. It means a lot to some students that their University pushes for sustainable action because they share those same values. It is true that nature can exist without us, Andrew Plunkett mentions that we are the ones that affect, “the ability of the planet to sustain healthy lifestyles”.


Five reasons to want Sustainability at York
1) Leadership: We are educated about sustainability but the information is not being practiced outside the classroom. We need to “walk the talk” as Andrew puts it.

2) Community Values: Having a clean environment and doing your part is a very important value to many students and staff at York.

3) Global Perspective: Sustainability does not just extend to your own backyard, the university is signatory to the commitment of taking sustainability very seriously

4) Student recruitment: For the students who have an interest in studying the Environment, allowing them to enjoy coming to a University that cares about Sustainable practices.

5) Resources: Sustainability: Re-allocates resources, for example, using less energy and saving money can go into educational programs


What does York do to be sustainable?

  • Research; SEI; Schulich, SEDA, Fine Arts, Osgoode Hall, IRIS

  • YorkW!se: an Energy management program since the‘60s, ‘70s retrofitting, auditing and updating lighting, more efficient HVAC and more light source from windows

  • Green buildings and renovations, specifically the Pond residence and the Lassonde building.

  • “LEAD certification” Buildings that are energy efficient,  have daylight-passive solar lighting, Hvac systems, a green roof and water conservation or “low flow plumbing”

  • Waste: Recycling, compost, water stations, phase out for plastic water bottles in 2015, Freestuff/ “reYUse site”(York’s Craigs list)

  • Transportation: shuttle services, public Transit, Smart Commute, Cycling, Car sharing, Zip cars/ Car rental, Car 2 go and Greening the Fleet: security on foot or golf carts to reduce vehicles

  • Food: local and organic grown (about 25%), cage free eggs, las nubes fair trade coffee, Lunik co-op, Eco-takeout program, lug-a-mug, Maloca garden/Orchard and Farmer’s Market



  • 25% reduction in energy use

  • ~63% waste diversion rate

  • Over 80% of York’s population using alternative transit

  • Over 500 courses relating to the environment and sustainability



  • Top 10% of schools in UI Green Metric Ranking on University Sustainability

  • 2012 Smart Commute Regional Employer of the year


Issues of Importance

  • Water Bottles (More re-usable ones)

  • Waste Contamination (ex. Putting trash in the recycling)

  • Waste Signage (Better idea of where things go)

  • Cigarette Butt Litter

  • More educational opportunities


What we can do?

  • Community Engagement

  • Pledges

  • Green office program

  • Sustainability ambassador

  • Green clubs

  • Green campus events

  • Eco teams



  • York/ Sustainability:     sustainability@yorku.ca

  • G.R.A.S.:     glendon.roots.and.shoots@gmail.com


Published by: G.R.E.E.N. G.R.A.S.S.

G.R.E.E.N. G.R.A.S.S., which is an acronym for Glendon Residence Environmental E-Newsletter & Glendon Roots and Shoots' Serial, is a newsletter and serial blog created and maintained by Glendon Roots and Shoots and its creation was inspired by the Glendon Residence Environmental Committee's Glendon Residence Environmental E-Newsletter (GREEN), thus its namesake. Our goal for GREEN GRASS is to spread awareness on environmentalism and sustainability by publishing submitted articles from Glendon's very own environmental activists and students. Published once a month, we hope to inspire fellow Glendonites and netizens beyond to become active world citizens and conscious consumers by sharing fellow students' voice of concern for the well-being of Mother Nature as we also promote G.R.A.S.' projects and initiatives. Thanks for reading~

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