group of people at a fair

Sustainability Week 2024: A deep dive into the events and individuals behind this year's collaborations

Mashiyat Ahmed

The fifth annual Sustainability Week recently wrapped up in late March. In partnership with on-campus and off-campus collaborators, the goal of this year’s Sustainability Week was to foster community and collaboration on campus by exploring various avenues of impact, whether it be academic discipline, student and youth experiences, or other transdisciplinary means of promoting climate positivity and sustainability. Fittingly, the theme of this year’s week was “Bridging the Gap.”

student looking at a rack of clothing
A Sustainability Ambassador peruses thrifted clothing at the Sustainability Fair

Climate change and the effort to reduce its effects on our world is a complex process, one that begins with passionate conversations on how different aspects of our world and lives—our food systems, lifestyles, agricultural methods, business and institutional habits, and modes of thinking—contributes to the health of our planet and people.

With an effort to promote cross-disciplinary collaboration and promote intersectional and innovative thinking, Sustainability Week kicked off with various events centered around exploring UTM’s climate goals and milestones, how technological waste is diverted and recycled, and incredible panels discussing research and professionalism in the field of sustainability.

The UTM Sustainability Fair—one of the most popular events on Sustainability Week—had a phenomenal turnout and engagement. Brought to life by MSEC, the Fair unites a diverse and passionate group of vendors, academic departments, campus initiatives, and activities all showcasing ways of pursuing sustainability in our personal and professional lives. The Fair is a place to platform and celebrate the sustainability accomplishments throughout campus and beyond, while also cultivating a collaborative vision of how climate efforts can be enhanced.

IMI spoke with MScSM student Lily at her booth, which displays a wide selection of personal hygiene and cosmetic products that are plastic-free, recyclable, and affordable for people on a budget. These products," says Lily, gesturing to her table littered with haircare, skincare, cosmetics, and reusable toothbrushes, are “are here to show people that pursuing a sustainable lifestyle is achievable. And it starts with our community. We want to show people that sustainability can be a reality.”

student with a sign that says regenesis
Students group 'regenesis' partnered with SAGE and Plant-Based U of T partnered for a workshop on upcycling

Sarvani, another MScSM student, is passionate about how what we eat impacts the environment. As a vegan, Sarvani’s booth sheds light on how individuals can pursue a more plant-based diet for both their personal health and the planet’s. Sharing vegan recipes, educating students and staff about a vegan lifestyle, and more, Sarvani comments that “following a plant-based diet is not all-or-nothing. We want to show that small steps and simple ingredients can make a huge difference. In fact, you can probably whip up a vegan dish just from the ingredients in your pantry right now!”

Lastly, IMI spoke with Divya and David, both MScSM students and junior vice-presidents for the MScSM Student Executive Council (MSEC). Reflecting on the success of this year’s Sustainability Fair and their organizational roles in bringing it to life, Divya remarks that “our aim really was to bring different aspects of sustainability, to have different exhibitors come together to promote sustainability as holistically through external partners, community organizations, and student involvement. Sustainability is a collaborative effort.”

students at a table
MScSM students lead an educational booth at the Sustainability Fair

Divya goes onto say that the climate challenges and disasters her home country of Bangladesh is facing solidified her decision to pursue sustainability professionally, understanding how she can use her strengths and personal experiences to fight climate change: “witnessing my parent’s struggle with navigating a changing climate back home really drove me understand sustainability and how climate impacts families from different social levels.”

In the future, students and staff organizing Sustainability Week hopes to add more hands-on activities like campus clean-ups, promote e-participation from the broader community, and continue platforming diverse and passionate student clubs, departments, and campus initiatives. 

With over 15 events and more than 1200 campus community members participating, the 2024 Sustainability Week was a successful testament to the power of sharing ideas and experiences, both big and small, in fostering a green, equitable, and accessible planet for current and future generations.