Sustainability FAQs


What does the climate crisis have to do with me?
The climate crisis involves every single person on Earth. The science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows us that human-produced greenhouse gas emissions from 150 years of fossil fuel-based industrialization, deforestation, and large-scale agriculture have led to our planetary condition called climate change. Climate change is an equity issue because the devastating impacts are most felt by the most vulnerable populations who are also the least responsible for creating the issue. These impacts include forced migration due to extreme weather such as catastrophic flooding and drought, job loss, and disrupted food production. As well, climate crisis involves all of us because we can all contribute to the solutions. For clean air, access to drinking water, good jobs for all, biodiversity, and more.



Why do coffee cups go in the garbage at OCAD U?
Most coffee cups are paper lined with a coating. The coating might be wax or plastic (polyethylene) or biodegradable plastic. Any coating + paper = mixed materials. So throwing your coffee cup anywhere other than the landfill bin means contaminating your paper pulp or compost with plastics. What can you do? Use a mug or thermos over and over again.

What is lifecycle design?
An approach to decision-making and design that considers all costs of a product or system throughout its service life (from design, manufacturing, service life, to reuse/disposal). Ask yourself: What's this made out of? Is it durable or will it break? Can I repair it? Can I repurpose it later?

Think of buying a bike lock. A thin cable lock may cost $15 upfront. But what's the whole story when you use that cable lock? It might rust quickly and stop functioning, requiring yet another bike lock. Or it might be so poor quality that someone cuts the cable lock and steals your bike! So now, how much have you spent over the life of that lock with the low upfront cost? Plus you have the sad discards of your cable lock and the wasted resources that were extracted to make that lock and it will have to go to a specialty recycler.
Lifecycle design would consider the durability of the product and the costs of maintenance, operation, and disposal.

What is greenwashing?

Greenwashing (noun) is a marketing tactic to deceptively portray an organization's activities or products as environmentally responsible when this is untrue.