How to Be a Sustainable Student in Kingston

Written by Tess Wittmann

Written by Tess Wittmann

School is just around the corner and it is time to start preparing! There is a lot you can do on your own to positively impact the environment, so check out this list to see how you can become a more sustainable student in Kingston!

1) Check out Boho & Hobo’s eco-products such as the Campus Kit to save money and live zero waste.

2) Go to Tara Natural Foods downtown for a wide variety of wholesome foods, from fresh, local, produce, to the latest developments in health supplements and super foods.

3) Grab a tea or coffee at the Tea Room: North America's first zero-consumer waste, carbon neutral café.

4) Reduce by reusing clothing! Try out thrift shopping at Ca$h for Clothes or the Salvation Army.

5) Did you hear about the petition earlier this summer to ban plastic straws in Kingston? Carry a reusable straw with you! You can find them in many eco-friendly stores in Kingston like the Living Rooms.

6) Be sure to use a reusable water bottle and travel mugs to avoid single-use cups and bottles. Even if they can be recycled, it is better to reuse to reduce consumption!

7) Use reusable bags as an alternative to single-use bags. You won’t have to pay for plastic bags and you will lessen your environmental impact.

8) Take notes electronically or think about eco-friendly notebooks and supplies if you prefer by hand! For example, the Sustainable Earth notebooks by Staples.

9) Use campus recycling and composting. Take a look at Queen’s University Recycling and St. Lawrence College’s Recycling.

10) Promote sustainable transportation by walking, biking, boarding, and rollerblading to school. Here are St. Lawrence College’s bike rack locations and Queen’s University’s bike rack locations. Register your bike at Queen’s University or St. Lawrence College.

Also, use the bus! Learn how to use the Rack & Roll program by mounting your bike on the bus. Watch this video to learn how to use it. St. Lawrence College and Queen’s student cards work as free bus passes, and high school students are also eligible for free bus passes.

11) Buy used textbooks or online copies! Used books are going to cost you less, and they don’t contribute to new printing.

12) Join an environmental club/green team! This provides the opportunity to work with like-minded individuals and brainstorm to create positive change. Check out Queen’s University student initiatives and St. Lawrence College’s student initiatives.

13) Participate in sustainability events such as Sustainability Week at Queen’s University (Sept/Oct), SK’s Climate Change Symposium (January), Pitch-In (April), and Earth Day (April).

14) Carpool to save money, help the environment and reduce traffic! Win-win-win! Carpooling programs exist at both St. Lawrence College and Queen’s University.

15) Grab a drying rack and hang your clothes instead of using the dryer! Save money and energy! 

16) Recycle and compost! It is cheaper than paying for garbage tags, and it's good for the planet.

17) Join a community garden or create your own if you are here for the summer! Have delicious fun while improving the sustainability of our City!

18) Attempt the Queen’s Vegan Pledge! Support a more sustainable lifestyle by going vegan for the month, or even longer!

19) Try the SK Summer Challenge on your own! Avoid bringing or buying single-use items at school by using reusable alternatives.

20) Lush sells a package-free shampoo bar! They eliminate packaging all together and outlast two to three bottles of liquid shampoo.

21) Check out these 10 apps for Sustainable Living.

22) More and more people are ordering stuff online and having it delivered to their door.  While that might reduce the amount that you are travelling, your stuff still needs to travel.  If you are ordering several items, order them at the same time or order things with a friend.  Fewer deliveries means less packaging and fewer trips to your house!

23) If you are furnishing your house, ask older relatives if they have items you can take. If grandma is downsizing, this is the perfect time for you to go retro. If this isn’t possible, buy household items with your roommates and avoid duplicating items that don't get used often.

24) Volunteer at SK or another community organization! We love engaging with excited and passionate students.

Try out a few of these to work toward becoming a more sustainable student and enhancing Kingston’s resiliency and livability as a community! If you try any of these, or have your own sustainable student tips, post about it on Facebook and tag us (@sustainablekingston). Enjoy the school year and reach out if you have any questions.

Why the Future of Sustainability in Kingston is Still Incredible

Written by Kristin Mullin

Written by Kristin Mullin

Despite the uncertainty regarding the future of province led reductions to carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, Sustainable Kingston (SK) is focused on its mission and excited about the future of Sustainability in our community. The team at SK continues to lead the way in working with the community to transform our society and create a more resilient Kingston.   

Through its growing Green Economy Program (an SK program that until recently was partially funded by the Ontario Cap and Trade program), Sustainable Kingston has supported 29 local businesses in setting and achieving carbon reduction targets.  In 2017, this program recorded a reduction of over 215 tonnes of carbon emissions – this offset is the equivalent of taking 47 passenger vehicles off the road for an entire year. SK will continue to host its Green Economy Program and plans to expand it geographically to support more businesses. 

Another initiative of Sustainable Kingston is to be a leader in bringing the community together to discuss important issues such as climate change, sustainable transportation, food security, environmental stewardship and economic prosperity. SK is convening with partners such as the City of Kingston, St. Lawrence College, Utilities Kingston, Limestone District School board, KFL&A Health Unit as well as local service groups to provide bold solutions to the issues that face our community.

In just the last 12 months we have seen positive change, created by people and organizations who are willing to directly invest in our community. Some of these changes are city led, such as new electric vehicle charging stations, and the proposed active transportation plan, or grassroots led movements by our friends at Boho & Hobo or Tri-Art Mfg. 

The team at SK is more motivated than ever to continue to provide the services that support positive action in our community, with or without the support of our provincial government, but with strong local members and partners. 

To join our movement, and reduce your carbon footprint please visit

Bringing the Project Idea Book to Life

As Sustainable Kingston’s Green Economy program continues to grow it is clear that Kingston’s business community is taking climate change seriously! The program provides support and recognition for businesses and organizations to track and reduce their carbon footprints. With 24 businesses now part of the Green Economy program, sustainability is on its way to becoming business-as-usual in Kingston!

In order to support this growing commitment to local climate action, Sustainable Kingston’s Green Economy program held its first-ever member-only event on December 6th, 2017. Bringing the Project Idea Book to Life brought together Sustainable Kingston staff, local business leaders enrolled in the program, and representatives from Utilities Kingston for a 90-minute conversation about energy conservation.

Hosted in Trailhead Kingston’s upstairs loft, the event began with a presentation from Trailhead’s owner James Malcom. James has embedded sustainability into Trailhead Kingston’s day-to-day operations and long-term planning, and in 2016 was recognized as the program’s Most Engaged Member. During his presentation he identified over 20 conservation projects being implemented throughout the store. The projects varied in scale from reducing the brightness settings on computer monitors to James’s interest in exploring ways to power the store with a roof-top solar array. 

Event participants then shared examples of energy conservation from their own businesses. These included LED lighting retrofits, upgrades to high efficiency furnaces, and re-using waste heat from freezers to heat buildings. Representatives from The Kingston & Frontenac Housing Corporation, The Ambassador Hotel, Cher Mere Canada, J.E. Agnew Foods, and Tara Natural Foods all made it clear that energy conservation is a priority for a business of any size. Through conservation, each business has been (or soon will be!) lowering operational costs while reducing their carbon footprints.

The event concluded with a presentation from Caitlin Newey and Hugh McLaren from Utilities Kingston. They explained the best way for businesses to read their utility bills and the wide variety of incentives available for gas, electricity and water conservation. They also stressed that energy conservation is in everyone’s best interest as it saves money, reduces our collective environmental impact and helps Utilities Kingston meet its own energy conservation goals.

Click here to learn more about conserving energy or call Utilities Kingston at 613-546-0000 and say ‘conservation’ to learn about their incentive programs!