EcoSchools Newsletter March 2017
Stay connected--follow us on twitter and share your great environmental initiatives with us! 

Earth Hour in our schools: Friday, March 24th 2-3pm
EcoSchools Section 1, Question 1.6; Section 5, Questions 5.3, 5.5; Section 6 Questions 6.5, 6.6

To raise awareness about climate change, the Toronto District School Board is once again holding its own special Earth Hour on Friday, March 24th, from 2:00-3:00 pm in advance of the annual global Earth Hour.  For at least that one hour we challenge all schools and offices to be as electricity-free as they can manage. 

Why bother turning out the lights for an hour? Isn't it just symbolic? Yes...and no. Perhaps, WWF's website puts it best,  "Turning off lights for one hour won't solve climate change. But the strong collective message generated by people around the world turning off their lights together helps WWF create the political space and demand for the large-scale change that will".

The underlying goal remains to raise awareness about the link between climate change and the unthinking use of resources. Have you tried an Earth Hour Electricity Walk? Or check out Ontario EcoSchools' Earth Hour campaign kit for other initiatives you can do in your school and use our Earth Hour checklist as a reminder to save energy and spread awareness!
In past years, schools, students and staff have been very creative in finding ways to reduce their use of electricity. Help beat last year's electricity reduction of 18% during the TDSB Earth Hour! These results can only be achieved when everyone pitches in.

Don't forget to help your community go dark on Saturday, March 25th between 8:30-9:30 pm,  when the rest of the world will be turning off its lights! For more ideas go to the global  and  Canadian Earth Hour websites .

Annual Energy Conservation Report - 2015/2016
EcoSchools Section 5: Questions 5.3, 5.4

Conservation: Let's Get Serious

In 2016, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario released its 2015/16 Energy Conservation Report. This report is the province's only comprehensive public
summary of energy conservation and efficiency and provides current data on Ontario's energy use.
In Ontario, public sector buildings are required to report on the amount of energy they consume. If you've ever wondered how much energy your school, local library or community centre uses, check out this interactive map from the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario.

March 31st: Application deadline for FREE water refill stations!

Project Refill:  Reduce waste and encourage drinking tap water by having a water bottle refill station installed free of charge! Schools that do not already have a water refill station can apply, but must be able to show a prior commitment to reduce plastic water bottle use in their school, strong curriculum connections, as well as plans for future reductions or educational campaigns. Past actions to reduce water bottle usage are heavily weighted. Visit the Project Refill webpage for more details and the application form. 

NOTE: Schools that have submitted applications in the past are assessed during each application intake. If your school has not yet been successful, please consider updating your application to provide more details about your EcoTeam actions and Teaching and Learning initiatives that your school has done.

Deadline to apply: March 31st. Questions: Contact Jenn Vetter

This resource provides ideas on how you can create awareness within your school and implement teaching and learning components that will help to educate students about water bottle waste. 

World Water Day: Educate and Celebrate
 EcoSchools Section 5: Question 5.3, 5.4, 5.5
World Water Day is held annually on March 22nd as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. The weeks leading up to the day provide an opportunity to celebrate and educate students about the importance of water in everyday life. 
Ontario Ecoschools has produced a  learning resource for Grade 8 classes that provides tips and ideas on how to celebrate World Water Day or Week at your school. In this learning activity, students explore water conservation and the positive and negative impacts that human activity has on natural resources. Students then design a media campaign to raise awareness about the importance of conservation.
The UN World Water Day website showcases other great ideas for youth both at school and at home.
The Water Brothers: Season 4 airing now!
 EcoSchools Section 5: Question 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, and 5.5
  Follow brothers Alex and Tyler Mifflin, as they explore the world, uncovering the most important water stories of our time. What are the problems, and where are the solutions to help us better protect our most precious resource? Alex & Tyler take you on the search.
Teachers and students can learn more about the environmental challenges we face related to water issues and how to get involved in solutions using the new interactive learning portal Dive Deeper.

Clean Toronto Together annual school clean-up day: Register your school by April 4th!
EcoSchools Section 4: Question 4.4; Question Section 6: Question 6.5

On Friday, April 21st at 2:00 p.m. students, staff, and parents from across Toronto are encouraged to help rejuvenate our city's green spaces by picking up litter in their schoolyard, neighbourhood park, or local community. Register your school today and celebrate Earth Day by joining over 500 schools who are helping to keep our City clean and green! Y ou'll be amazed at what we can accomplish in as little as 20 minutes!  ( Note:  Schools may opt to do their clean-up event at any time).

To increase participation at the TDSB, we're challenging each Learning Network to encourage schools to participate and collect as much waste as they can in their local community.

Campaign Incentive for Learning Networks:

First Place: three water bottle refill stations to the first Learning Network that has 100% of their school sites participate and provide photo evidence.
Second Place: two water bottle refill stations to the second Learning Network that has 100% of their school sites participate and provide photo evidence.
Third Place: one water bottle refill station to the third Learning Network that has 100% of their school sites participate and provide photo evidence.

*Schools can provide photo evidence by tweeting @EcoSchoolsTDSB using the hashtag #cleantoronto (or email

The Superintendents will select the schools that will receive the stations.

Campaign Incentive for Schools:

First, second and third place: one water bottle refill station to each of the top three schools to collect the most amount of waste and provide evidence to the EcoSchools central team. (Schools must provide a photo and the quantity of waste collected, e.g., number of bags, total weight).

Visit our Clean Toronto webpage for resources and weekly updates!

Questions: Contact

*New this year!  Keep textiles out of landfill and generate funds for your school

TDSB schools are encouraged to run a clothing/textile recycling drive during Earth Week, April 18th-21st.  Clothesline is an organization that benefits Diabetes Canada, and they'll pay your school for each bag (67L) of clothing you collect.
How to participate:

Complete and submit the Clothesline registration form.
Clothesline will provide a corrugated donation box and free promotional materials.
Promote the drive and collect clothing/textiles during Earth Week, April 18th-21st.
Clothesline will pick up your donations between April 24th and May 5th.
Clothesline will pay your school for each bag (67L) of donated textiles.
If interested, please contact Diabetes Canada Territory Manager, Ryan Michaels at 416-333-2792 or

April 15th: Deadline to complete and submit your Certification Application:
Attention EcoTeams! 

The deadline for all schools, including Platinum to complete and submit the online application is April 15th. If you haven't already begun, please start working on the online application now, so you can answer all of the questions in time. Please note that if you do not meet this deadline your school will not receive an audit this school year. 

How to complete your online application: 
Step 1: To access the online certification program (from a TDSB networked computer), go to  TDSBweb>Services>Facility Services>EcoSchools Certification. If you are assessing the application from home go to and click on the Register/Apply button and follow the instructions.  Once on the Certification Application Sign in page go to "Already Registered" for 2016/17 and sign in with your school name and password.
Not sure if your school is registered?
Please contact or 647-224-4382.
Step 2: Once you have logged into the application go to Completing the Certification Application section of the program and complete your EcoReviews. When completing the application you can refer to initiatives that will take place after the deadline, e.g., Earth Week, EcoFairs, community clean-up, or spring mulching events to name a few! Please let the auditor know how your scheduled events went so that they are included as part of the audit report.
Schools that completed and submitted an application in 2016 will see that their text and check box information has been carried forward. Please ensure that the answers are still relevant by reviewing the information and updating it as you enter the scores for each question. Evidence will be required during your audit.
Step 3: Let your team know that the FINAL date for completing and submitting the whole application is April 15th.
Step 4: Audits will take place starting on Monday, May 1st and continue into June. You will receive notification of your audit date and time two weeks prior to the audit.

IMPORTANT:  If you have registered your school for Certification but have decided NOT to go ahead with an audit, please contact Wendy Abbot as soon as possible to let her know.

Environmental Education AQ Course--Part 1
EcoSchools Section 5: Questions 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 5.5, 5.6, and 5.7

Want to expand your knowledge and practice of environmental education? 

OISE has partnered with the TDSB to offer Additional Qualification courses in environmental education this spring and summer. To support EcoSchools teachers, the TDSB will subsidize $400 of the cost for a limited number of TDSB teachers who register and successfully complete the course! 

Environmental education is central to teaching and learning in the 21st century; climate change, resource depletion, and environmental degradation are all pres sing contemporary societal issues that require an educational response. This course provides an engaging introduction to teaching and learning in environmental education for both elementary and secondary teachers through a combination of lectures, workshops, outdoor and experiential learning, field trips and guest speakers. It offers maximum flexibility for participants' learning needs through a blended course format (in-class and on-line hours).

Part 1 is being offered at the U of T, OISE campus and taught by instructor Ron Ballentine.  Class schedule:
  • 11 Thursdays (April 6th - June 15th) 5:15 pm - 9:15pm and
  • 3 Saturdays (April 22nd, May 6th, and June 3rd) 9:00am - 1:00 pm 
  • 44 hours of online learning 

Register with OISE by March 29th, 2017

Contact to ensure a spot on the TDSB subsidy list.

EcoSpark's Nature Academy Workshops 2017
EcoSchools Section 5: Questions 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 5.5, and 5.6
Learn how to integrate outdoor experiential learning into your everyday lessons!

EcoSpark's Nature Academy is a professional development program designed to support  teachers and connect environmental issues with hands-on learning opportunities in nearby  nature. Each workshop includes outdoor activities, many take away resources, plus 2 hours  of personal follow-up support so you can plan and implement your perfect project or lesson.

EcoSchools is providing release for up to 20 TDSB teachers on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Air We Breathe - Friday, April 28th
The Water We Drink - Thursday, May 4th
Our Urban Pollinators - Saturday, May 13th

Questions: Contact  
1UPToronto: Youth Conference & Design Challenge

EcoSchools Section 6: Questions 6.5

Are you a highschool student wanting to make an impact? 

TDSB secondary students are encouraged to attend this annual youth change-makers conference, "1UPToronto", aims to bring together secondary school student leaders across Toronto to learn and discuss urban issues. The conference will feature guest speakers, interactive workshops, and a design jam to address real life challenges related to the topics of play, eat, and move. Participants will learn about what is happening today with regards to activating public space, food equity, and transportation, what could happen in the future, and what they can do as youth to be urban change-makers. 
Register for 1UPToronto on March 19th, at Ryerson University's Launch Zone. We encourage those who are taking courses related to Geography, Civics, History, or Arts/Design, and those in leadership positions in student councils and clubs, to attend this event!