Always use reusable bottles/mugs. The biggest reason to bring your own water bottle is that PETE (polyethelene terephthalate) plastic bottles, which is the most common bottles used for bottled water and carbonated soft drinks, will never decompose! PETE is quite recyclable (you can recognize it as it has the recycling "1" symbol), but that requires that it not to be placed in the proper recycling bin. Also, most other plastics take 450-1000 years to decompose and many of those are actually not recyclable. Looking for reasons to bring your own reusable mug for hot drinks? In addition to the financial incentives paired with bringing your own reusable mugs, to produce the 1.6 billion paper coffee cups that Canadians consume each year it takes 190,235,800 tonnes of wood. In Toronto alone we use 1 million paper cups per day. Also, there seems to be some confusion on this point, but paper coffee cups are NOT recyclable (Source: Stewardship Ontario, 2012) because of the thin polyethylene (PETE) coating most of these cups have, which means they are actually treated as contaminants in recycling terms. Also, for example, you only have to use a stainless steel cup that isn't made from recycled materials 25 times to make it more sustainable than buying the equivalent 25 paper coffee cups!
This pledge means simply to always put garbage (and recycling and composting) into the proper receptacles! No exceptions!
This pledge is actually harder than it seems, because it involves knowing what actually goes into recycling in the City of Toronto and what is either compostable or is just garbage. For example, did you know that, in addition to paper coffee cups, plastic 'clamshell' takeout containers, plastic wrap, and plastic cups and straws are all NOT recyclable? Also, a full list of what can be recycled in Ontario communities outside of the City of Toronto can be found here: http://www.stewardshipontario.ca/consumers/what-we-do/blue-box/what-goes-in.
One of the simplest ways to act more sustainably is to rethink and reduce the amount of paper you use on a daily basis. To begin with, challenge yourself to print less and, for example, get more used to working on drafts on your computer or filing documents electronically when possible. Double sided printing is another relatively easy way to save paper, especially if your printer allows for automatic "duplex" (double sided) printing. If you are unsure how to set your printer to default double sided then follow the steps found at: http://computing.yorku.ca/faculty-staff/computing-tips-how-tos/printing-double-sided/
Join the Freecycle network where thousands of people across the GTA share unwanted items that might otherwise end up in a landfill. Freecycle is free and easy to use. To find a group near you, visit www.freecycle.org/group/CA/Ontario. The City of Toronto has a good database of non-profits and charities that would be happy to take your donations (which can be found here: http://www.toronto.ca/reuseit/orgs.htm#nwrc. Alternatively, there are two clothing donation bins located on Keele Campus, one behind the Passy Gardens Apartments and one at the loading dock of the 90 Atkinson Road apartments.
Bringing a lunch will save on all that packaging, will probably be more wholesome and healthy food, and also save money! For instance, don’t feel like you have enough time? Try putting an apple, some carrots and a sandwich in a container. Feel like you’ll miss out on the networking in the lunch line? Try starting a lunch break (or even a pot luck lunch) tradition in your office. Just don’t like packed lunches? Even small microwavable dinners/pizzas/soups use less packaging and generally have far fewer calories than some of that fast food you were trying to talk yourself into!