Kingston Climate Change Symposium - Walking the Talk

Written by Tess Wittmann

Written by Tess Wittmann

Climate change is today’s most significant global threat to our quality of life. As a community, we have a responsibility to take action. The Kingston Climate Change Symposium is coming up on January 17th and we try our best to walk-the-talk when it comes to sustainability at our events. We want to make a statement and showcase the many simple and effective ways we can work to build a more livable and resilient city. We are proud to showcase several initiatives that will reduce the environmental impact of the event and promote Sustainable Kingston's Six Priority Areas. 

See the examples below of how Sustainable Kingston is doing its best to walk-the-talk!



We are working with the City of Kingston Solid Waste Division again this year to make The Kingston Climate Change Symposium a waste-free event.

Waste Sorting Stations, led by a small team of volunteers, will be provided at The Grand Theatre. They will take recycling and organics from attendees and dispose it into the appropriate bins, offering an educational element as well as ensuring effective waste diversion.

Surplus food for the event will be posted on to be donated to social service organizations who can put this food to great use. Anything that isn't picked up will be donated to Farm Sanctuaries.



In addition to supporting a waste-free initiative, we have partnered with local food vendors who will use reusable and compostable materials. Rather than bringing disposable plates, vendors will provide compostable or reusable serving dishes to reduce packaging wherever possible.

Culligan Water is graciously donating water refill stations, so attendees can fill up their reusable water bottles.

Copper Branch is sponsoring a vegan meal to further reduce the event's environmental impact.

Bread and Butter is sponsoring baked goods and The Tea Room is sponsoring coffee for our first break. There will even be oat milk as a vegan alternative to milk and cream for your hot beverage!



Sustainable Kingston is working with Carbonzero to offset the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the Kingston Climate Change Symposium. Sustainable Kingston is proud to recognize Carbonzero as its official offset sponsor. 



We are providing a student discount of $20 (43% discount from the original ticket fee) to inspire innovation and collaboration among the next generation.

This event will be a positive space event to support and welcome all members of the community.

We are also pushing to make this event as accessible as possible. A couple of examples include a wheelchair accessible event and an available water bowl for service dogs.



We are partnering with the City of Kingston to provide free bus transportation for ticket holders. Just show your ticket on January 17th and you can use the bus for free for the entire day. The downtown transfer point is only a 3-minute walk to the Grand Theatre! So, take the economic and environmental option and use sustainable transportation.

Making the Holiday Season Sustainable!

Written by Kristin Mullin

Written by Kristin Mullin

Why is it so important we make a change?

The holiday season is renowned for being a wasteful, consumer-driven and stressful time of year.  To help combat this, our team has decided to create our own Sustainable Gift Giving Guide with ideas on how to make your holiday season simple and sustainable.

Shockingly in Canada we collectively throw away 540,000 tonnes of wrapping paper each year, that’s the equivalent of 100,000 elephants (if you can even imagine that many elephants in your head). Combine this with 2.6 billion holiday cards and hundreds of thousands of tonnes of packaging that is added to landfills during the holidays (25% more than the rest of the year) and we have created a humungous amount of waste.

But on a positive note, if each of us starts making some small changes, we can spoil ourselves and our loved ones without spoiling the planet.

How to Give Sustainably!

Think about other options before you buy – There are many gifts out there which have less impact on our planet and some that even make a positive difference!

Instead of buying a gift for a loved one, you can make a donation on their behalf. Therefore instead of giving for the sake of giving, you have an opportunity to make a real difference for those who really need it.

Another idea is to give new life to a used item by gifting it to someone who could really use it. Or, make a new gift using items you already own (Pinterest has lots of ideas).

Give experiences not gifts – There is a large misconception that during the holidays, the amount you spend on an individual reflects how much you care about that person.  The team at SK feels that time is always so much more valuable than things. Time that you spend with loved ones can never be replaced, so why not choose to share your time with a day at a local conservation area to engage with nature, go to a local show, or learn a new skill together.  

Shop for Sustainable Materials – If you do decide to purchase gifts, choose items made with sustainable materials such as organic cotton, hemp, wood or silk which are natural and renewable.  These items add character, texture and uniqueness to your gift and they also support sustainable farmers!

Buy Local – The holidays are about supporting our friends, families and communities. One great way to support our neighbours is by shopping in locally owned stores. As an added bonus, your gifts are more likely to be unique and memorable for those receiving them.

Cards - Store-bought holiday cards are rich, elegant and expensive. They also consume a huge amount of natural resources for a single-use item. Homemade cards, created with materials you already own can be much more personal and just as appreciated. Making the cards is also a fun activity for the family during the weeks leading up to the holidays.

Wrapping Paper – If you’ve got old scarves, shirts, sheets or any other textile material lying around at home, there is no need to go to the store to purchase wrapping paper.   Just last week SK hosted a workshop with Boho & Hobo all about sustainable gift wrapping and learned how to wrap gifts with a variety of different materials (and they turned out great!). If you are really stuck on wrapping paper there are more sustainable options out there, opt for more environmentally friendly choices made using fibres such as hemp, or recycled content.

Large Group Gift Giving – If you have a large group or family that you wish to buy gifts for you’ll know the familiar feeling of stress and worry about waste. Our team has thought of some options to reduce the stress and the waste.

  1. Stick to a ‘one gift’ or “Secret Santa” rule. This allows each person to get one especially thoughtful and unique gift from someone who had the time to dedicate their effort.

  2. Try a “White Elephant” gift exchange – everyone only gives gifts they find around their home with no money spent.

  3. Handmade Gift Exchange- only handmade gifts (from hand-knit scarves to cookies) may be given.

At Sustainable Kingston, we believe that small actions can lead to BIG change. Sustainable holiday giving is just one example of this.   It starts with just one person taking action and making positive impact by influencing their circle of connections, and then when that larger group shares what they have learned they can spark change throughout the community.    

From the Team at Sustainable Kingston, We wish you all a very happy, healthy and sustainable holiday season. 

7 Steps to Becoming a Conscious Consumer Starting Today

Written by Simone Santos

Written by Simone Santos


I still remember the time when we needed to get an empty glass bottle to buy soda and other drinks. In this way, the bottle was returned to the manufacturer to be refilled and reused.

Then, the era of recyclables arose. Now, instead of reusing, we throw it all away. Things that cost dearly to be extracted, manufactured, distributed, and transported get into our hands and are thrown away within minutes after use.

Canada produced over 24,000,000[1] tonnes of waste in 2016, and only about 24%[2] of it all is being recycled. The demand is simply too much and there are not enough recyclers. That is Right! When you toss something in the recycle bin, it does not mean it will be recycled for sure.

Also, 32% of plastic packaging leaks into ecosystems and, if nothing changes, by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans.[3] Can you imagine that?      


This consumerism is affecting us all. Climate change is drastically changing our surroundings and quality of life. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are rising and it is over 50% higher than it was in 1990.[4] That can cause if we do not take action now, irreversible consequences to our system. Which we have been experiencing lastly, such as increased incidence of disasters, extreme temperature conditions, rising of diseases and negative consequences on our health, extinction of a number of animal species, among other consequences.

What if I tell you that it is in our hands to change it? All of us, as consumers, can choose to change this reality. Everyday by changing little habits and becoming a conscious consumer, we can contribute to a huge change. Join this movement! Below are some ideas that you can start doing it today.

1.   Fashion

Research the origin of the products before buying. The fashion industry is the second largest polluter of fresh water, it is responsible for 10% of global GHG emissions, and it has a high incidence of child labour and human slavery. [5] Find out more about ethical brands and retailers, shop for organic fabrics (without harmful chemicals and with a lower impact on the environment), certified fair-trade products, local manufactures, and second-hand products. 


2.   Buy local products

You will not only promote the local economy and support small businesses. You will reduce GHG emissions associated with the transportation of goods and packaging, and will enhance the sense of community. Shop for local farmers and small business in your region, also organic products are toxin-free and better for our health.


3.   Cosmetics & Household products

Purchasing sustainable and toxic-free products is good for the environment and also for our health. These products regularly contain harmful ingredients that can cause allergies, health diseases and even cancer, as well as contributing to water bodies pollution, once it leaves our homes.5

Look for certified cruelty-free products (not tested on animals), which are confined in cages and terrible conditions and suffer to death by intense testing.[6]


4.   Once a week, go vegan or vegetarian

Food production to feed animals, livestock and byproducts, and land use (deforestation for livestock) is responsible for about 24% of GHG emissions (more than transportation).[7]

It also takes a large amount of water to grow crops and animals, it can take over 2,500 liters of water to produce 3 liters of milk and 9,000 liters of water to produce less than 1Kg of meat.[8] Not to mention the emissions caused by land use, water quality, and irresponsible fish harvesting.

Reducing meat consumption, especially red meat, will reduce your carbon footprint and will contribute to reducing animal cruelty. Shop for certified vegan products and look for vegetables containing high-protein content, like beans, chickpeas, soy, tofu, quinoa, oats.


5.   Reduce your waste

As mentioned before, it is a major challenge in recycling the enormous amount of waste we produce. So, the best way is trying not to produce it, by reducing as much as possible. Take your reusable mug with you instead of using plastic or paper cups for coffee and water, most cafeteria accepts to use yours if you bring your own mug. Prefer tap water than bottled water, Canada has one of the cleanest tap water in the world, studies have shown that most of the bottled water contains particles of plastic. [9] Bring reusable shopping bags with you always, you can save over 170 plastic bags from trash for one year, and you can also buy compostable bags for your home waste. And finally, use reusable cutlery and lunch box whenever you can.


6.   Buy for quality

Start by rethinking if you really need each product or if you just want it. Impulsive buying makes us having lots of stuff that we barely use. So, if you really need that item, then opt for buying quality products that will last longer, will not break easily, and will reduce your waste production.[10]


7.   Choose businesses that are committed to sustainability

Question your service providers and businesses you work with about their sustainability strategies and choose the ones that are taking action. Businesses can take action on climate change, reduce its environmental impact on its operations, offer sustainable products and services to their customers, engage and develop the local community.



So, before buying that case of water or pop, think about all the waste you will be generating and how you can substitute for something eco-friendly. When buying make-up, perfume, deodorant, cleaning products, look for certified toxic-free and cruelty-free alternatives. For clothes and fashion articles, consider fair-trade options. Reviewing our habits can make a huge change to our planet and a big step towards a low carbon economy. Keep on checking on Sustainable Kingston’s website and social media to learn more about becoming a conscious consumer.



[1] Statistics Canada