Blog Posts

  • Environmental Justice: Moving Away from the Shadow

    By: Kassie Burns

    Many of us realize climate change impacts are being felt across the globe, however, that does not mean they are evenly distributed and felt the same for everyone. People from different geographic locations experience, respond, and cope with climate vulnerabilities in different ways (Sultana, 2022). Marginalized groups have routinely suffered the worst impacts of climate change from large polluting industries.

    These few people who profit the most from destroying our environment are also the ones who have the ability and resources to avoid the consequences. Industries lavishing in capitalism and imperialism greed have abused their power (Sultana, 2022), leading to the emergence of environmental injustices and, more deeply, environmental racism. Environmental racism was coined by Benjamin Chavis and explains that racially oppressed communities are more likely to be exposed to environmental hazards, such as pollution and toxic waste, and are trapped in those conditions (Intersectional Environmentalist). These communities are more likely to live near landfills, sewage plants, mines, contaminated water, oil pipelines, and other sources of pollution that other wealthier white privileged communities have access and resources to move away from. Environmental pollutants and associated toxins bring increased risks of health concerns like cancer, respiratory disease, cardiac disease, and reproductive issues (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion). These communities are more likely to live near landfills, sewage plants, mines, contaminated water, oil pipelines, and other sources of pollution that wealthier and predominantly white communities have access and resources to move away from. Environmental pollutants and associated toxins bring increased risks of health concerns like cancer, respiratory disease, cardiac disease, and reproductive issues (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion).

    In Canada, like many other “wealthy” countries, we have profited and exploited other nations with roots in colonialism, where the effects are still being felt today. Treaties with Indigenous peoples are continually disregarded in favour of oil pipelines and operations that poison ground water, food sources, and our oceans (Intersectional Environmentalist). When projects are developed to extract resources, they often fall on marginalized communities with low income that are known and manipulated by large industries. These communities are ones that will suffer from environmental stressors, prohibited community growth, and it will create a vicious cycle that is extremely difficult to escape.

    Increasing awareness and attention has emerged with environmental justice. There has been a call for action and opportunity to pass Bill C-226, which would create an Act for “respecting the development of a national strategy to assess, prevent and address environmental racism and to advance environmental justice”. This would be Canada’s first environmental racism bill! In addition, several novels, news stories, and documentaries (There’s Something In The Water and The Condor and the Eagle) speak on promoting environmental justice. More voices are being heard and multiple social media platforms are being used to help shine a light on these shadowed stories. Sustainability at Brock has created a guide on Instagram to highlight some of the posts on these platforms that are listed them below.

    Environmental Justice Inspired Social Media Platforms:


    Sultana, F. (2022). The unbearable heaviness of climate coloniality. Political     Geography, 99, 102638.

    The information delivered here helps support SDG 3, SDG 4, SDG 10, SDG 11, and SDG 13.

  • Students logged sustainable actions to showcase environmental commitment leading to Earth Day!

    By: Sanjida Amin

    From April 17 to 21, 2023, Brock University hosted another Sustainability Challenge to encourage engagement in environmental action for Earth Day. Earth Day was first celebrated on April 22, 1970, and it is considered as the beginning of the environmental movement. Over the years, Earth Day has become one of the world’s greatest environmental participatory movement on the planet. The day is now regarded as a global initiative to promote the protection and care of our planet.

    To celebrate earth Day, Brock students took part in a Sustainability Challenge by showcasing daily sustainable actions. Brock University partnered with Blackstone Energy Services with the hope to encourage students to contribute to a sustainable campus and incorporate sustainable solutions in their daily lives through innovative and engaging software. Students used the Blackstone Energy EcoBoss app to log daily sustainable actions, such as using a reusable water bottle and carpooling, over the course of five days. The rules were simple: students were required to join challenge through registration once the app was downloaded and log all sustainable actions made throughout those five days on the EcoBoss app to accumulate points. Those with the highest scores at the end of the challenge won the following prizes:

    1st place prize: Niagara Parks Experience Vouchers, sponsored by The Niagara Parks Commission.

    2nd place prize: CYBORIS Solar Bluetooth Speaker.

    3rd place prize: Solar Pack Charger, sponsored by Blackstone Energy.

    4th, 5th & 6th place prizes: Sustainable lunch bag with a 16oz Hydro Flask and a wheat straw food storage container, sponsored by the Campus Store, the ESRC, and Blackstone Energy.

    7th to 10th place prizes: Seed planting kit with potting soil and seeds from the Brock University Seed Library.

    Popular actions which were tracked using the app included using reusable water bottles, turning off lights, turning off water while brushing teeth, taking shorter showers, saving energy, eating leftovers, recycling, using public transportation, composting, air drying dishes, buying local, and so much more. Students from a range of academic fields and programmes-including business, education, science, and the arts-took part in the competition and engaged enthusiastically throughout the duration. Through the app, we were able to estimate CO2 savings, waste diversion, and water savings from logged actions. Total estimations include the following:

    • 2,027kg in CO2 savings
    • 114kg in waste diverted
    • 4 thousand litres in water savings

    The competition aimed to include Brock University’s student community in sustainability initiatives at campus and show how simple it is to incorporate sustainable practises into daily living. Moving forward, there are plans to host more sustainability challenges to motivate students to continue their environmental actions to minimize energy usage, reduce their carbon footprint, and contribute to the health of the environment!


  • How to become a more sustainable traveller

    Photo courtesy of Chait Goli/Pexels

    By: Sanjida Amin

    According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Sustainable tourism refers to “Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment, and host communities.” According to a study conducted by the University of Sydney, tourism is responsible for 8% of global carbon emissions, with the United States leading the way, followed by China, Germany, India. It was also found that travellers from Canada, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Denmark exert a much higher carbon footprint when travelling than in their own countries. The United Nations declared 2017 as the “Year of Sustainable Tourism” in an effort to highlight that many popular tourist locations were not operating in the most environmentally sustainable ways. This initiative aimed to inspire tourists to consider their impact on the environment, society, and local economy while travelling.  

    Tourism has a significant impact on ecosystems and the overall health of the planet. While air travel is responsible for about 5% of the world’s carbon emissions, travel is not just about emissions. Travel can also result in excessive water use, deterioration of the environment, improper waste disposal, increased greenhouse gas emissions, and more. However, sustainable travel is becoming an increasingly important area of focus in the tourism industry, and there are multiple ways travel can have less of an impact on the environment. Below are several simple tips to help you travel more sustainably. 

    1. Consider your destination carefully 

    As Jim Sano, Vice President of Travel, Tourism, and Conservation for the World Wildlife Fund once said, “Selecting a destination that achieves a balance of protecting natural and cultural resources, providing for sustainable livelihoods, and creating a high-quality traveler experience is challenging.”  

    When choosing a destination to travel to, there are many factors to consider, such as how far away the location is, how efficient the lodging is, transportation option in the destination, and more. Asking these questions can help you find a destination that takes into consideration sustainability and reduces the impact your trip can have on the environment. 

    2. Pack smart 

    • Bring a reusable water bottle with you to avoid purchasing single-use plastic water bottles. 
    • Reduce your use of single use plastics and pack zero waste items instead, such as reusable bags (e.g., totes and produce bags), reusable straws, reusable cutlery, etc. 
    • Invest in an energy-efficient multipurpose electric plug for all your devices. 

    3. Be conscious of where you stay and try to choose hotels/lodges that follow environmental guidelines. 

    4. Explore locally grown and organic food items. Read our recent blog post to learn more about organic food consumption! 

    5. Be aware of your carbon footprint: Choose to use public transport, walking, or biking over a car whenever possible. By using public transportation, you can easily visit new places and interact with people you might have not otherwise encountered! 

    6. Do your part 

    • Avoid excessive food waste. 
    • Consider your water usage by taking shorter showers and turning of the tap when not in use.  
    • Take a nature-based tour if they are available in the city you are traveling to and explore the local natural areas! 

    Travelling is a wonderful way to experience other cultures and expand our understanding of the world. However, travelling can also be intensive on the environment. Luckily, there are many ways to minimize our environmental impact while travelling, and this blog highlighted a few simple alternatives you can try during your next trip to become a more sustainable traveller. We hope these tips serve as a reminder to be mindful of the places you visit and consider the future impact of your travel choices!

  • Student Observations Capture Invasive Species at Dufferin Islands BioBlitz


    By: Kassie Burns

    On April 21, 2023, Sustainability at Brock co-hosted a BioBlitz event with The Niagara Parks Commission to offer students an opportunity to learn about invasive species in Niagara and contribute to management plans at Dufferin Islands. It made history as Brock’s first ever organized BioBlitz, and it was a huge success! Both undergraduate and graduate students represented the school, holding a diverse range of backgrounds that made the event unique and special.  

    For many students, it was their first time experiencing an event such as this, which provided practical skills in the environmental field. Dufferin Islands offers a gorgeous surrounding, with a range of both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems to be an optimal spot for surveying species.  

    Janet Marley, a Child and Youth Studies student participating in the BioBlitz, said “This my first time participating in a nature program like this. It has been intriguing and fun and increased my awareness about biodiversity and invasive species. Thanks to the organizers and hope there will be another like this in the future.” 

    In addition, students were able to learn about local community settings, which some had yet to explore.  

    “This was my first time going to Niagara Parks and everyone was so welcoming and helpful, and I was able to learn a lot on such a short period of time. It was such an informative and educational process; I am so happy to be part of this project. Thank you to everyone and I hope I will be able to take part in something like this in the future” Philomena Nwapa, a Nursing student. 

    Students were enthusiastic and appreciative for the event, which highlighted students’ dedication to enhancing sustainability in Niagara. More encouraging reflections were represented as students recognized that anyone, no matter their educational background, could participate.  

    Prestyn Sider, an Earth Science student, shared “It was a pleasure learning about the types of invasive species that occur in Niagara and the way that an ordinary person can help in promoting biodiversity! Great experience, thank you to the Brock sustainability team for inviting me out!” 

    We were delighted to hear that so many students are interested in participating in future BioBlitz events and keen to attend more sustainability events in the future. 

    “Thank you for sharing the great experience. It is good opportunity to be involved in sustainability and I would like to participate in more opportunities”, said Mai Osada, an English as a Second Language (ESL) student.  

    The event was a huge success with students, and it showcased the power of uniting people to work towards common goals. We sincerely thank all the students for attending this event and congratulate them on the exceptional data they were able to acquire!  


    We look forward to sharing more sustainable events with you soon! Be sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook (@BUsustainable) as well as the Sustainability at Brock ExperienceBU page to keep up to date on all the new activities. 

    This event directly helps to achieve SDG 4, SDG 9, SDG 11, SDG 13, SDG 14, SDG 15, SDG 17. 

  • Brock University Seed Library community engagement events!

    Participants selected from a variety of seeds they wanted to plant.

    By: Sanjida Amin

    Brock University’s Seed Library celebrated its second season by hosting two events aimed at educating the community about sustainable gardening practices. The Seed Library, a partnership between the Brock University Library and the Brock University Project Charter, provides the Brock and Niagara community with free seeds to “borrow” and plant in the spring and summer. Staff, students, and community members can “borrow” free seeds from the Seed Library to use in their own gardens. The cycle works like a library where participants can take seeds free of cost and are asked to return some from their harvest, so they can be given out to other community members. This Seed Library aims to protect the genetic variety in our food system and encourage open access to seeds. 

    This spring, the Seed Library hosted a seed packing event and a seed planting event to spread awareness of the Seed Library project and educate the community on the importance of biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, promoting pollinator populations, and preserving rare, endangered, native, and culturally significant seeds.    

    The Seed Packing Party was held on March 31 in the Matheson Learning Commons. Anyone who wanted to help pack seeds for the Seed Library’s stock was welcome to participate in the volunteer event, which was designed for students earning credits towards their campus-wide co-curriculum (CWC) activities. Moreover, students could also use these volunteer hours towards the completion of The World Wildlife Fund Living Planet Leader certification. It was wonderful to see students from various departments as well as staff, faculty, and community members participate in the seed packing event by counting seeds and placing them in envelopes. 

    Participants helped label envelopes and pack seeds to restock the Seed Library.

    The Seed Planting Party was held on April 13. The main purpose of this event was to inspire the Brock community to grow and take care of plants with seeds given to them from the Seed Library. Each participant was allowed to plant up to six different varieties of herbs, flowers, and vegetables. Soil and necessary supplies were offered, including egg cartons donated by Dining Services. Additionally, educational materials were provided, which included details on the germination process and growth patterns for some of the popular seeds offered at the Seed Library. Participants could take their newly planted seeds home with them to later plant out in their gardens. It was an enjoyable and relaxing event for everyone who participated, especially students looking to de-stress during exam season!  

    Participants used egg cartons donated by Dining Services to plant their seeds in.

    The Brock University Seed Library hopes to organize more events in the future to help preserve ecological balance, encourage home gardening, and enhance community involvement. To learn more about the Seed Library and how to participate, please visit our website here. 

  • Students show environmental stewardship at campus clean-up!

    Students helped volunteer by cleaning garbage from Quarry View area. Left to right: Alexandra Cotrufo, Sanjida Amin, Kassie Burns, and Janet Marley.

    By: Kassie Burns

    Last Tuesday, on April 11, Brock students helped clean up the area behind Quarry View Residence, as part of the first clean-up event on campus this year! Volunteer students demonstrated their commitment to environmental stewardship by collecting garbage and recycling around the area. Picking up waste makes a difference in our community and creates positive impacts for the environment by removing waste from streets, rivers, parks, and other public areas.  

    Once the students reached Quarry View, trash was evidently seen covering the ground. It was clear that some scattered items had been there for a while and had become buried in the dirt. Places most affected were along the fences and in corners where the wind had collected items.  

    Together, students were able to collect 2.5 bags of waste in just one hour! It was a beautiful and successful day, and we would like to thank Facilities Management for providing all the necessary supplies. We would also like to recognize the important work of FM staff in always keeping our campus clean. 

    Garbage and recycling collected during the clean-up.

    Janet Marley, a Child and Youth Studies student, commented on her experience participating in her first clean-up event. “It was my first time joining a clean-up walk and it felt productive. I am glad to partake in such a worthy cause. It was a plus that I got some exercise while at it. Thanks!” 

    We were delighted to see familiar faces and create new experiences for the students to engage in sustainable initiatives on campus! It was also wonderful to see other members of the community noticing our effort and giving thanks for our work in keeping the neighbouring trails clean. This event highlighted the positive differences that can be made when working together to take proactive action.  

    While some waste may have been intentionally littered, we also recognize that litter can also be due to unintentional circumstances, such as wind blowing items out of garbage bins. To help prevent garbage from being dispersed into the environment by the wind, it is important to tie bags tightly and ensure lids are properly secured on bins. Here are some of the most common items collected at the clean-up. 

    Common items found:  
    • Coffee cups and lids 
    • Masks 
    • Take out containers and bags 
    • Plastic cutlery  
    • Hygiene products 
    • Notes/paper 
    • Cardboard boxes 
    • Food wrappers 

    Thank you to everyone who participated in our Campus Clean-up, we look forward to hosting more clean-ups soon! If you are interested in participating in more Sustainability at Brock events, we are also hosting an Earth Day Sustainability Challenge and co-hosting a BioBlitz event this month!  

    Interested in hosting your own clean-up? Visit our toolkit created in partnership with Niagara College for more resources and steps! 

    This event helps support SDG 11, SDG 13, and SDG 15. 

  • Upcoming BioBlitz: We Need Your Help!

    By: Kassie Burns

    BioBlitz events are growing in popularity and seek to bring people together to identify as many species as possible in a specific area (Parker et al., 2018). A BioBlitz serves to be a rapid survey of biological organisms and a community outreach event (Lundmark, 2003). It helps encourage people of all backgrounds and levels of expertise to enjoy a day in nature while making an impact in contributing to important ecological work. Volunteers participating in BioBlitzes do not need to have any science background to be involved, and often these events seek to engage with new audiences of varying ages to encourage learning more about the importance of this type of event. BioBlitz events (and other community science projects) can create powerful experiences that unite people and connect them to nature.  

    Having species inventories is extremely valuable for multiple reasons. For example, an inventory can help determine the range of species present and identify endangered or invasive species in a specific area. It can also help indicate the biodiversity in an area, or lack thereof. We depend on many species to give us sources of food, medicine, construction materials, and income through recreation and tourism (Mace et al., 2012). Based on the current inventory, management plans can be developed to help establish biological sustainability that allows the environment to thrive. A BioBlitz can help form baselines or updates to these inventories while empowering community members to be better informed and protect biodiversity to improve their local natural area.  

    BioBlitz at Dufferin Islands  

    Brock is so excited to be hosting its first ever BioBlitz in partnership with The Niagara Park Commission! The purpose of this BioBlitz, taking place at Dufferin Islands on April 21, is to log and identify the eleven most threatening invasive plant species for inventory management. The work done here will directly benefit the invasive species program with The Niagara Park Commission. We will use the platform iNaturalist to capture invasive species images, record their geographic location, and other characteristics. This will give participants the ability to have an in-depth look at invasive species here and elsewhere in the Niagara region. To register for the BioBlitz, please visit ExperienceBU. There are a limited number of spots available, so be sure to register early! A bus will take all Brock participants from Theal House to Dufferin Islands. 

    Navigating iNaturalist (Shannon Heaney, 2023) 

    To participate in the BioBlitz event, we are asking all participants to have iNaturalist downloaded on their phone or other electronic device to record and map species. Here are some suggestions on how to use the platform and be prepared! 

    Top Invasive Plant Species of Concern in Niagara 

    If you are unable to make it to the BioBlitz event, you can still keep an eye out for the most threatening invasive species in your area! Here is a list of species that can be found in the invasive species guide:

     The information here helps support SDG 4, SDG 11, SDG 15, and SDG 17. 


    Lundmark, C. (2003). BioBlitz: Getting into Backyard Biodiversity. Bioscience, 53(4), 329–329 

    Mace, G. M., Norris, K., & Fitter, A. H. (2012). Biodiversity and ecosystem services: a multilayered relationship. Trends in Ecology & Evolution (Amsterdam), 27(1), 24–31.  

    Parker, S. S., Pauly, G. B., Moore, J., Fraga, N. S., Knapp, J. J., Principe, Z., Brown, B. V., Randall, J. M., Cohen, B. S., & Wake, T. A. (2018). Adapting the bioblitz to meet conservation needs. Conservation Biology, 32(5), 1007–1019.  

    Image reference: Sidekick Images  

  • The Race to Meet Net Zero by 2050

    By: Kassie Burns

    Greenhouse gases (GHGs) and the use of fossil fuels are the primary contributors to climate change and one of the largest global hurdles we are facing in our attempt to meet Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050. Achieving Net Zero would mean Canada does not emit GHG emissions and/or offsets its emissions to ensure there is no overall increase (Government of Canada, 2023). The transportation industry accounts for 25% of Canada’s total domestic GHGs, where passenger cars and light trucks account for half of these emissions (Government of Canada, 2022). To address this issue, the Government of Canada has proposed Regulations Amending the Passenger Automobile and Light Truck Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations to introduce new requirements for manufacturers of vehicles for sale in Canada.  

    The requirements will work towards decarbonizing the transport industry by requesting that vehicles produce zero emissions. These zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) can be battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric, and hydrogen fuel cell operated, ensuring they do not produce tailpipe emissions (Transport Canada, 2021). The new regulations are being phased out so that 20% of passenger car and light truck sales will be ZEV by 2026, at least 60% by 2030, and 100% by 2035. This plan hopes to have all GHG emitting vehicles phased out by 2050, given a car life expectancy of 15 years.  

    To help encourage the transition to this new set of vehicles, the government has developed the Incentive for Zero-Emission Vehicles (iZEV) Program. This program will allow people to receive up to $5,000 when purchasing or leasing eligible zero-emission vehicles, and it is continuing until March 31, 2025.  

    Brock is happy to help offer accessible charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs), with 22 ports across 13 charging stations on campus!  

    The news shared here helps contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals: SDG 11 and SDG 13. 


    Government of Canada. (2022). Canada Gazette, Part I, Volume 156, Number 53: Regulations Amending the Passenger Automobile and Light Truck Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations. Retrieved from,  

    Government of Canada. (2023). Net-Zero Emissions by 2050. Retrieved from, 

    Transport Canada. (2021). Zero Emission Vehicles. Retrieved from, 

  • Interview with Jay Ismailovic: Brock’s Green Cleaning Program

    Image courtesy of Floortje from Getty Images Signature

    By: Kassie Burns

    Behind the scenes, many individuals take initiative to incorporate sustainability on Brock University’s campus. Often, these acts of stewardship are implemented everyday without people realizing it. We wanted to highlight one of these initiatives by discussing Brock’s Green Cleaning Program, which runs through custodial services. Jay Ismailovic, Manager of Custodial Services, took some time to share with us his thoughts about the program and green cleaning products on campus. 

    1. Why do you think it is important to incorporate environmentally conscious and green cleaning products on campus? 

    Green cleaning is the process of selecting cleaning products that are safer for people and the planet. Using green cleaning products is good for the health and wellbeing of all of us on campus. Many benefits can be identified by using green cleaning products from preventing unnecessary chemicals from being released into the environment, to improving the quality of indoor air, protecting the health of custodians who use chemicals daily, protecting the health of the entire Brock community, reducing the exposure to allergy-causing substances, preventing the environmental damage, etc.

    2. How do you determine what constitutes an environmentally conscious cleaning product? Are there any requirements to meet a standard? (i.e., no phosphates or fragrance, recyclable/compostable packaging, etc.) 

    For cleaning chemical to be considered environmentally friendly it has to have a third-party certification for cleaning chemicals such as Green Seal, EcoLogo, Greenguard, etc. and it has to be effective while minimizing wasted chemicals, water, energy and time to clean and not harm human health or the environment. Third-party certification means that product has undergone rigorous scientific testing and strict auditing, to prove its compliance with stringent environmental performance standards. It is also important to know that producers of green cleaning products incorporate recycled content and reduce the amount of material in packaging, and they make sure that every shipping box and all empty containers are recyclable. And one other significant benefit is also achieved by producers delivering “super concentrated” chemicals in closed-loop dispensers. For example: super concentrated product reduces up to 98.5% in packaging materials compared to non-green products. Cleaning chemical dispensers also eliminate over-use of cleaning chemicals.

    3. How did the transition process work when switching from artificial chemical-based products to more environmentally conscious products? How long has Brock been using green products?

    Custodial Services at Brock University has been using green cleaning products for over 15 years. The idea to switch to green cleaning products was a result of our ongoing commitment to health & safety, innovation and a greener future. Transition process included number of important steps such as: review of all products and practices being in place at the time, action plan, testing and evaluation of various certified green cleaning products, selection of products, custodians training, implementation, etc. That was a joint effort of all stakeholders on campus which resulted in implementation of Green Cleaning Program.

    4. What are you hoping to achieve by using these products? 

    By using green cleaning products at Brock University our goal is to reduce the exposure of students, custodians, faculty, staff members and visitors to potentially harmful cleaning chemicals which negatively affect air quality, human health, building finishes, and the environment we study and work in. Every single one of us has the responsibility to do everything we can at work, or outside work, to reduce our environmental footprint and leave our planet unharmed for future generations and every step, and every action, counts. And Custodial Services definitely is one of the leaders on campus in doing its part by using environmentally friendly, green, cleaning products and supporting all sustainability initiatives.

    5. How do you think this initiative will create a positive impact on campus?  

    Sustainability is a global challenge facing all and certainly Brock University is dealing with those challenges. All our activities on campus have a direct impact on the environment. Every day thousands of us are on the campus working and studying, as well as many students are living in our beautiful student residences. All this activity requires joint effort of many employees to ensure things are running smoothly and safely. And definitely keeping things safe and clean for campus community requires use of many cleaning products daily. And with embracing green cleaning products on campus we are creating a positive impact by protecting health and safety of Brock community and ensuring that cleanliness and sustainability go hand in hand.

    This initiative contributes to the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which you can read more about here: SDG 3, SDG 12, SDG 13

    Many thanks are given to Jay for taking the time and consideration to share his insight into the Green Cleaning Program at Brock, which has helped form this remarkable good news story!

  • Understanding Organic Food Consumption

    By: Sanjida Amin

    Our food choices have a significant impact on our health and the health of the planet. Buying organic and locally grown produce, when possible, is a great way to reduce the impact our food choices can have on the environment.  According to research, support for organic food has grown recently not only for its perceived health advantages over conventional agriculture, but also for the ethical production process, which considers the sustainable usage of resources and integrates techniques that preserve the ecological balance of natural systems. Let us explore what organically grown produce is, what the benefits are, and how we can identify organic products. 

    What is organic? 

    Since the 1970s, intensive agricultural production techniques and unsustainable consumption habits have been increasing at an unprecedented rate, causing pollution of the air, water, and soil, as well as significantly accelerating climate change and the extinction of species (IPCC, 2022). The current overuse of fertilisers, herbicides, and antibiotics in livestock and aquaculture threatens the environment and human health and has significant socioeconomic consequences. In contrast to this, organic food practices, restricts the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilisers and adheres to high standards for animal care to reduce the suffering of livestock due to their detrimental effects on the environment. Canada organic standards requires that organic food meets a specific set of requirements, such as avoidance of genetic engineering, minimum use of chemicals in pesticides and soil management techniques, and regulated livestock diet and care. Any agricultural product with an organic label is subject to these standards, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, eggs, meat, fish, rice, cereals, and even some natural fabrics.  

    Benefits of having organic produce in your diet 

    • Foods that are organic are often fresher that non-organic produce, especially if purchased from a local produce stand or farmer’s market. Organic options will also often provide a better cooking and dining experience, as they tend to have more flavour. Check out this post to learn more about buying locally. 
    • Organic foods contain lower levels of potentially toxic substances. When you choose organic, you are opting out of using chemical pesticides and mineral fertilizers for your food, which is harmful both for the environment and your health. It depletes the soil nutrition required for fruits and vegetables.  
    • Organic produce may even be healthier, since it carries more of certain antioxidants and nutritional properties. Certain nutrients may be more abundant in some organic food items, like organic meat and milk. According to the findings of this study, the amounts of several nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, were up to 50% higher in organic meat and milk than in conventionally farmed versions. 

    Recognizing the right product 

    Unfortunately, certified organic produce may not be readily available in all areas and stores, and they also tend to be more expensive. To be certified as organic in Canada, the food must include 95% or more, organic ingredients. Organic items are regulated under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR). Therefore, when you want to buy organic, you can look for the Canada organic logo and know that your food has been regulated properly and all organic standards have been met. Additionally, you can check out the shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce to learn which produces contains the highest or lowest level of pesticides. Lastly, if organic food is not readily available, look for foods with additional labels that indicate sustainability and/or ethical production.   

    By taking steps to improve our food choices, we can not only enhance our personal health, but also play a significant role in influencing our agricultural practices towards greater sustainability. It is important to recognize that not everyone may have access or the means to purchase organic foods. While it is beneficial to support practices that improve the sustainability of our food systems, it is more important to know that even taking small steps such as informing yourself about these practices makes a difference! No matter how big or small your actions may seem, every action towards greater sustainability is a step in the right direction.