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Eco-win program launched at U of T Scarborough library

ENVIRONMENT FRIENDLY: Tim Lang, sustainability coordinator (seated), gives out reusable mugs at the library's recent eco-win event to promote waste reduction in the library and everywhere on campus. (Photo by Ken Jones.)

by Catherine Ngai

For students, staff and faculty, the library is a destination for serious reading. However, the library at the University of Toronto Scarborough now doubles as the first eco-zone on the campus, a project spearheaded by the environment-friendly sustainability mandate that hopes to inspire more green on campus.

The eco-zone campaign at the Scarborough library allows members to enter the library with any drink in hand, provided that the drink is in a resealable and reusable container. The goal is to reduce the excessive amount of disposable paper cups on campus. The measure met with resounding success immediately. During the launch of the library’s second 24-7 awareness event on February 4, almost 500 students, staff and faculty attended the event, and less than one bag of garbage was collected.

The library has long been implementing creative changes to better serve the U of T community. Last October, staff unveiled the 24-7 pilot project to keep the library open for longer hours. In addition, the library staff members are conducting surveys through February and March to determine user needs long term. “We still need to see what is most optimal,” said Victoria Owen, the library’s head librarian. “We want to keep talking to people about how to improve the service within limits.”

Owen said the eco-zone project is “precedent setting” and “champions UTSC’s effort for positive sustainability.” The eco-zone works in collaboration with the eco-win program of the Sustainability Office at U of T Scarborough.

“An eco-zone is a space where eco-wins happen,” said Tim Lang, sustainability coordinator on campus. He said that every place on campus where an eco-friendly measure occurs is branded as an “eco-win.” For instance, “Instead of using paper, use china. There are really endless possibilities.”

The mandate of UTSC’s sustainability office is to help “meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” said Lang. He said the he was thrilled when the library stepped up to this challenge and hopes other departments will get on board.

Owen said she is encouraged by the others who have shown tremendous support for the eco-initiative, such as admissions and student recruitment, the University of Toronto bookstore at Scarborough, and student groups like the Scarborough Campus Students Union, Second Nature and the Green Wizards.

“We have a priority to collaborate with students,” Owen said. “We want each unit here at our campus to be aware of the others and to work together.”

© University of Toronto Scarborough