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sharing stories & practices: ontario ecoschools monthly newsletter

September Newsletter Contents

Celebrating 10 years of Ontario EcoSchools!


Welcome to the new school year! Congratulations to the 1,745 schools that certified in 2013-14 as well as the nineteen schools certifying at the Platinum level. Sudbury Catholic DSB certified their first school in 2013-14 and we welcome them to the EcoSchools network.

This year also marks a milestone in the Ontario EcoSchools province-wide program with 10 years of EcoSchool participation. To celebrate, Ontario EcoSchools is launching a 10x10 project to share 10 innovative environmental practices per month. And check out our 10 year infographic!

NEW Certification Guide 2014-15 is now available.

PLUS: Registration is now open at certapp.ontarioecoschools.org – all schools new and returning must register each year.

NEW Experienced EcoSchools Certification Cycle (EECC): Schools participating in the EECC this year will have an opportunity to plan with their EcoTeam. Eligible schools will be given the option to enroll upon registration and work with their EcoTeam to complete the Pledge Form, Yearly Planner, and Teambuilding Project by January 31. Click here for more details.

NEW Walkabout Worksheets: The Energy Conservation and Waste Minimization Walkabout Worksheets have been updated to allow students to gather data on one easy-to-use worksheet.

NEW! Exploring Energy Use and Behaviour: Question 2.11 in the Certification program now offers students the opportunity to explore energy use and behaviour by completing a Classroom Lighting Assessment or School Energy Consumption Assessment.

Going Platinum

Ontario EcoSchools is thrilled to launch the official Platinum program. Last year was a pilot year in which nineteen schools certified from across the province. Schools eligible for the program can enroll in the Platinum program upon registration, which opens today.

The goal for Platinum certification is to provide an opportunity for high-achieving schools to deepen their existing Ontario EcoSchools program. This means taking environmental practices a step further and includes:

• An emphasis on increasing the capacity of school EcoTeams.

• A greater focus on student leadership and inquiry-based learning and actions

• Rich student engagement through investigating school-specific data


We saw some fantastic student-led Platinum initiatives in 2013-14. Dunbarton High School in Durham DSB is one great example. Last spring, Dunbarton students and parent volunteers created a pollinator garden with over 1,000 varieties of plants and planted 70 native shade trees on their school grounds. Students voted on the preferred tree species by classroom and commemorated Nelson Mandela with the planting.

Other Platinum secondary schools show exceptional levels of student leadership and community engagement. Holy Cross in the Niagara Catholic District School Board hosted an EcoSymposium where partner schools could attend environmental workshops and receive EcoSchools program mentoring. In May 2014, students at Blessed Pope John Paul II in the Toronto Catholic District School Board weighed in on current issues through hosting a debate on fracking at Scarborough's “Our World, Our Responsibility” eco conference.

Ontario EcoSchools celebrates all eco-actions big and small, and appreciate how Platinum schools take it to the next level! To learn more about the program, please see the 2014-15 Platinum Certification Guide.

Make Every Week Waste Reduction Week




Teachers, mark your day planners! October 20-26 is Waste Reduction Week in Canada. Held in the third week of October every year, Waste Reduction Week is a terrific opportunity to engage students in waste minimization initiatives at your school.

At Marius Barbeau elementary school in the Conseil des écoles catholique du Centre-Est, every week is Waste Reduction Week. To support waste minimization efforts, garbage and recycling bins are paired and placed in strategic locations throughout the school – such as near classroom doorways - and are accompanied by clear, student-generated signage indicating which items go where.

Students regularly track contamination of the bins and share their results with the school community.

Taking these waste reduction efforts to the next level, Marius Barbeau staff and students engage in a robust organic waste program that accepts paper coffee cups. Students also hold a daily boomerang lunch program, where all non-recyclable and non-compostable items are returned home. A measure of the results of these terrific eco-actions? In 2013-14, Marius Barbeau reported a 92.5% waste diversion rate!

Waste Reduction Week in Canada is an opportunity to maximize your waste minimization efforts. Consider introducing one or more of the initiatives from Marius Barbeau in your school. The Waste Reduction Week website has some excellent resources, the Waste Free Lunch Challenge is a great way to involve the whole school, or consider conducting an Ontario EcoSchools waste audit. For tips, check out Ontario EcoSchools’ ‘Waste Audit How-To’ video.

Boomerang lunch and composting programs, whole-school waste audits, and campaigns such as the Waste Free Lunch Challenge (continued throughout the school year) are recognized in the Ontario EcoSchools certification program.

Planning Ahead (With Helpful Resources)

With the start of school comes the excitement of new classes, new clubs, and a new year full of eco-actions. A great way to start off the school year is to plan ahead. Mapping out the year can help your EcoTeam decide which initiatives to focus on, and what months will be prime times for involving the whole school.

One helpful resource is the EcoSchools Yearly Planner. We recommend it as a way to arrange tasks, list supports needed, give your actions a boost, and find synergy with environmental events taking place across the world.

The Ontario EcoSchools' Eco Calendar has an even more comprehensive list of events. Learn which environmental issues are being highlighted and celebrated throughout the year to connect with a larger green community, and get some great suggestions too.





For instance, October not only features Waste Reduction Week, but it’s also Walk to School month. Your EcoTeam can check out the international Walk to School website, and the national Active Safe Routes to School website for tips on how to encourage students to walk, roll, or bike to school as part of your Environmental Stewardship initiatives.

When it comes to a year of eco-action, some initial planning will put you two steps ahead!




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