Sustainability Guide


About the guide


The Sustainability Office developed the Sustainability Guide to help you live a sustainable lifestyle, whether you are new to sustainable living or looking for ways to improve your current sustainable behaviours.

This digital guide is divided into two main sections: exploring sustainability and general resources. The first section will explore various topics, resources and actions to incorporate in your life. The second section will provide general resources on sustainability if you’re interested in exploring further, including blog posts, books, documentaries and more, as well as resources to connect with local groups, businesses, and organizations that are helping to make Waterloo Region more sustainable.

Exploring Sustainability


This section will provide an introduction to a range of specific sustainability topics, introductory resources to learn more and practical ways to incorporate simple, sustainable behaviours into your life. We have included resources to suit various learning and accessibility needs, so whether you prefer listening, watching or reading, we hope you’ll find resources that work for you. While the list of resources included is not exhaustive, it provides many great starting points for you to explore!

Reducing my emissions

Shift Neutral report cover
Shift:Neutral, our first institutional Climate and Energy Action Plan, outlines how the university plans to achieve carbon neutrality and increase energy efficiency across campus. Note that many of the other topics also contribute to climate action, because climate change is an all-encompassing theme.





  • Educate: Promote climate change education and action on your social media accounts
  • Set goals: Set personal goals to reduce your contribution to climate change, such as a goal for reducing your carbon footprint by the end of 2021

Sustainable clothing purchases

Fast fashion – the cheap, mass-produced “in” clothing that changes every season – is highly unsustainable, with environmental and social impacts. Supporting “slow” fashion is a way to directly combat this unsustainable system in your everyday life, while still expressing yourself through your clothing! 


  • Shop certified: Look for garments from companies with third-party certifications that ensure ethical, sustainable production practices – use the EcoLabel Index to learn what labels are used in the textile industry
  • Donate: If you have textiles from clothing and other materials that you no longer have use for, donate them! Some places will even accept textiles for recycling that are no longer wearable. Places like Value Village and Goodwill can recycle your textiles.


  • Minimize: Follow Pinch of Yum's capsule wardrobe starter guide to create your own capsule wardrobe
  • Swap: Host a clothing swap with friends, family and/or your community! Also check if your community is hosting one; student societies at UW often host them, as have businesses around Waterloo, such as at Seven Shores. 

Enhancing diversity and inclusivity

Sustainability goes beyond the environment. It also includes fostering diverse, equitable and inclusive social systems. Read the Strategic Plan to learn the University's specific equity-related goals. The University's Equity Office is working towards making campus policies and programs more accessible and inclusive every day with the support of diverse staff, student and Faculty members. The Equity Office also has many resources and tools available to inform you about your rights and available supports related to equity. In addition, check out the Indigenous Initiatives Office's resources and research, available to the public. With regards to accessibility, check out the on- and off-campus accessibility resources provided by Accessibility Services



Saving energy

Waterloo Region has both seen an increase in population growth and residential energy consumption in recent years, and while the data is not yet available, residential home energy use has likely surged since March 2020. Learn more about the University's energy goals and targets in the Shift: Neutral climate action plan.



  • Get reimbursed: Check out the Energy Affordability Program offered through Save on Energy which offers energy assessments, toolkits and more
  • Audit: Get a Home Energy Audit offered by Reep Green Solutions
  • Shop smart: Shop for appliances and other household items that have the ENERGY STAR label, which certifies that it is an energy-efficient product

Choosing healthy and sustainable food



Growing nature around you



Support mental health and wellness



Commute and travel sustainably



  • Plan: Use your UW credentials to take advantage of TravelWise, the Region of Waterloo’s tool for trip planning, carpool planning, the Emergency-Ride-Home program and more
  • Offset: Use this carbon offsetting blog post by Seaside with Emily to learn about how to reserach and buy carbon offsets
  • Be inspired: Check case studies from around the world on how sustainability is being incorporated into the tourism industry
  • Make a list: Create a set of criteria for yourself when selecting places to travel/stay and companies to support, and use this list for your future travels
  • Be respectful: Learn about the norms and culture of the place you will be visiting

Reduce your waste



  • Track progress: Use the interactive Zero Waste Checklist tool to keep track of your progress towards a zero-waste lifestyle
  • Learn skills: Attend an item repair workshop to prolong the life of your personal belongings: check out @4repairKW on Instagram for updates
  • Support community: Check out the KW Library of Things, a place to borrow items like tools, garden equipment, kitchen appliances, camping gear and more – you can also donate your own items to benefit others in the community
  • Work together: Register for ShareWaste if you live in an apartment to find places to drop off organics waste in the community, or allow apartment residents to drop off organics at your home

Conserve your water


  • Conserve: Use Wai Water's list of 100 ways to conserve water to help reduce your water consumption at home
  • Mindfulness: Be conscientious when using water! Take short (less than 5 min) showers, wash clothing in cold water and only run laundry machines/dishwashers at full loads
  • Set goals: Use the Region of Waterloo’s Water Conservation Tips Sheet for setting more in-depth, targeted goals


  • Efficiency: Search for appliances that have low-flow, low-flush water settings such as faucets, toilets, washing machines, dishwashers, showerheads, etc.
  • Consume: Purchase food products with a small water footprint, or opt for alternatives that have the lowest water footprint of the varieties available 
  • Capture: Install a rain barrel for watering your lawn and garden

General sustainability resources


If you’re interested in exploring any of these topics further, we’ve curated a list of blogs, books, podcasts, and more to help you get started. We’ll continue to add to this list over time.

Do you have a resource to recommend that you don’t see on this list? Email it to us at and we can include it!

At the University of Waterloo

  • @enjoyyourfoodrd – University of Waterloo’s Registered Dietitian, Nicole Pin, shares affordable recipes, sustainable food choices and more
  • @sdgimpactalliance – the Sustainable Development Goals Student Hub, located right at the university of Waterloo
  • @ucgreenhouse – learn about GreenHouse, the on-campus incubator that supports students in developing social and environmental innovations
  • @uwecologylab – education about ecological restoration and nature with free virtual events 
  • @uwenergynetwork - learn about and participate in discussions on renewable energy with fellow students
  • @uwraise - a student-run group on Racial Advocacy for Inclusion, Solidarity and Equity
  • @wisc_uw – the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre that supports Indigenous students at Waterloo
  • @wusasustainability – the main platform for WUSA’s sustainability initiatives on campus

In the community

  • @communityfridgekw – a free, accessible community fridge in KW that reduces food waste, makes food available to those in need, and fosters community connections
  • – accessible sustainable living from a student perspective
  • @intersectionalenvironmentalist – approaching sustainability from a holistic, inclusive perspective
  • @mverte.ig – a local microgreen business teaching you about the benefits of microgreens and how to grow them
  • @plantiful_kw – plant-based eating tips, product and restaurant reviews in the KW area
  • @plantbasedrelationship product and restaurant reviews in KW, plus tips for eating plant-based in a relationship (also applicable to roommates, friends and family)
  • @shakeuptheestab – youth-led nonprofit promoting climate justice & political action in what is currently Canada
  • – a KW-based online farmers market with local pickup
  • @thestarfishca – celebrating the efforts of Canadian youth to protect the environment

Jobs, volunteering, clubs and societies

Job boards:

All University of Waterloo students (including non-Co-op students) can access WaterlooWorks employment opportunities in the “Other Jobs” tab on your dashboard.

University of Waterloo clubs and organizations

Did we miss anything?


Send us an email to and let us know what topics, resources or businesses we missed that you would like to see included in this guide!