Seneca News

Students from the Sustainable Business Management program
Students from the Sustainable Business Management program Anastase Karpathiou, Laura Castro, Pallavi Sathiskumar and Eryn Brown have fun during the clothing swap event at the Sustainability Fair.

March 21, 2018

President David Agnew jokingly compared setting up Seneca’s Environmental Sustainability Committee to “going for a dental operation.”

“Once you set it up, you’ll feel the pressure,” he said at the opening ceremony of the first-ever Sustainability Fair, which took place at Newnham Campus today.

While Seneca is “a bit late to the party in some ways” on the sustainability front and has some catching up to do, President Agnew noted that there is great momentum with Sustainable Seneca and encouraged everyone to share ideas with the committee.

The Fair showcased a number of initiatives happening at Seneca, including the energy dashboard, the Green Citizen program, the urban farming unit by Ripple Farms, Seneca Sting Honey, textile diversion program and First Peoples@Seneca.

External organizations at the Fair included Habitat for Humanity, Waste Connections and Planet Earth.

Civil Engineering students Suleman Bangi and Md Khairul Islam
(l-r) First-year Civil Engineering students Suleman Bangi and Md Khairul Islam visit the Seneca Sting Honey table with Gonzalo Barreto, a Sustainable Business Management student.

“We want to encourage people to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible,” says Paula Echeveste Petrone, a Sustainable Business Management grad who organized the Fair.

Her passion for sustainability started when she was 10 years old, when she saw her mother’s friend turn a piece of magazine paper into an envelope.

“To me, that’s what sustainability is all about,” Paula says. “It’s how can we rethink the way we do things.”

Peggy Pitawanakwat, Co-ordinator, First Peoples@Seneca,
Peggy Pitawanakwat (left), Co-ordinator, First Peoples@Seneca, performs a traditional ritual acknowledging that Seneca is on the territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation and the Williams Treaties First Nations.
Suzzette Giran and Danica Smiljanic
Suzzette Giran (left) and Danica Smiljanic from Aramark, which operates Seneca Dining Services, showcase local food initiatives at the Sustainability Fair.

For the Fair’s clothing swap event, for example, Paula reused hangers from dry cleaners and borrowed rolling racks and a mannequin from the School of Fashion. She also turned a cardboard box into a ballot box and rescued a chalkboard from being disposed for engagement activities at the Fair.

“We want to educate people about Seneca’s sustainable initiatives,” Paula says. “We also want everyone to create a collective change by modifying our day-to-day habits to have a positive environmental impact.”

Michelle Alexis Villarama agrees.

“It’s the little things that count,” says the third-year Accounting student. “There needs to be more events like the Sustainability Fair and more education around awareness.”

A self-professed “recycling nerd," Michelle says she often walks around the campus looking for garbage bins to segregate her waste.

However, she says she doesn’t see anyone else doing it.

“A lot of my friends don’t care about this stuff and honestly, it’s the lack of awareness,” she says.

“Yes, it might just be one piece of paper you recycle, but if you start, your friends will start and everyone else will start. And that will make a big impact. You can influence your friends by leading by example.”

Chau Nguyen, a Sustainable Business Management student
Chau Nguyen, a Sustainable Business Management student, makes a pledge at the Fair that reads, "I will stop using plastic bags."