SP0165: Sustainable Orientation

Status: COMPLETED April 2017 - November 2017

The Sustainable Orientation project aims to introduce and mainstream sustainability to new students by raising awareness and modelling best practices during orientation through more sustainable programming and materials (SSMU handbook, Frosh T-shirts, tote-bags, and planning). This projects seeks to address sustainability-related issues pertaining to past orientations, which have normalized a culture of throw-away consumerism that is replicated throughout students' university careers. The same practices, products, and vendors are used every year because they are cheap and easy options passed down to organizers; meanwhile, more responsible and sustainable practices are ignored due to lack of knowledge and higher costs. 

Read the full project description

This SPF project intends to start addressing above sustainability challenges through targeting three key elements of orientation: a) SSMU handbook (distributed to about 8,000 students), b) Frosh T-shirts and tote-bags (distributed to about 5,000 students), c) Frosh activities. The SSMU handbook and Frosh materials are very popular among students, and have high visibility and impact potential. Frosh activities provide another perfect opportunity to raise awareness about sustainability for incoming students, through non-material means.  

For the handbook, SSMU will replace non-recycled paper and conventional petroleum-based inks with recycled paper and low-impact inks. With the help of MOOS, the 2017-2018 handbook will be made sustainability-themed, integrating more information on living and promoting sustainability at McGill into the handbook (including a page on Vision 2020 and the SPF). To increase the number of handbooks that are recycled, SSMU will implement a “Handbook Recycling Week” at the end of the year (shredded on-site to maintain confidentiality).  

For the Frosh T-shirts and tote-bags, SSMU will work with all Faculties to use sustainable producers for their T-shirts and tote-bags, as a first step to hopefully making the full Frosh package sustainable in future years. 

For Frosh events, a Sustainability Coordinator (under MOOS supervision with support from SSMU) will complement and support the Inclusivity Coordinators already hired by all Faculty Frosh committees to incorporate sustainability into Frosh programming. The Sustainability Coordinator will help Frosh oversee purchasing and event planning to create more equitable, accessible, and earth-friendly events. 

For strong awareness-raising and to monitor and report on students’ appreciation of this initiative, MOOS will provide support in concretely communicating our efforts to students through the SSMU handbook and with an SPF flyer in the Frosh package calling for action with a traceable url. We will also conduct in-person and email survey for feedback. 

Funds from the SPF will be used to purchase a portion of the Frosh materials including the sustainable T-shirts, tote-bags, handbooks and promotional cards. 

View photos

Student wearing frosh shirt with red Sustainability Projects fund bag over their backSSMU student handbooks layed out on table


shona.watt [at] mcgill.ca (Shona Watt)

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