Toronto has large collection of green organizations working every day to make our city better. Whether you want to do something big (like building a green roof over the Gardiner Expressway) or you simply want to start recycling more at home, here are eight great websites full of useful content about living sustainably in Toronto.
In case you still need convincing that Toronto is a template for urban ecological commitment, the city has its own green blog. Live Green Toronto is a component of the city’s Climate Change, Clean Air and Sustainable Energy Action Plan. The Live Green blog is a comprehensive website full of resources, tips and tools for urban residents and businesses to help them reduce emissions, thus protecting the climate and cleaning the air.
The blog has scores of personal tips on how to conserve water and energy at home, apply for rebates and incentives, grow your own food and travel sustainably. Live Green lists city grants, incentives and ideas for group environmental actions by neighbourhoods, kids, schools and businesses. There are how-to videos on everything from making your home more energy efficient to starting a community garden. You can watch the videos on the website or on the Live Green Toronto Youtube channel. There’s even a membership card that gives shopping discounts on green products in town.
The Centre for City Ecology in Toronto invites community participation in urban planning. YIMBY, or Yes In My Back Yard, is their annual festival for grassroots organizers, socially and environmentally aware local businesses, and neighbourhood residents. It takes place at the Toronto Reference Library each year.
CCE sponsors talks by lawyers, media representatives, government officials and businessmen involved in community development and urban planning. The CCE blog reports on these and other citywide functions. There are links to a wide variety of Toronto social initiatives, green campaigns and likeminded blogs, clubs and centres.
David Suzuki, the environmental activist and pundit, started the David Suzuki Foundation 25 years ago. DSF is a nonprofit scientific organization dedicated to “balancing human needs with the Earth’s ability to sustain all life.” The foundation has offices in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. Suzuki himself stepped down from the foundation board two years ago. DSF works with government, businesses and communities to conserve the environment. Blogs at the foundation website cover many topics: Climate & Clean Energy, Docs Talk, Healthy Oceans, Notes from the Panther Lounge, Queen of Green and Science Matters are their titles.
DSF played a key role in establishing the Rouge National Park, Canada’s first urban national park. This past summer, DSF began a new project in Toronto called the Homegrown National Park. The foundation is seeking to crowd-source a corridor of green mini-areas along the former path of Garrison Creek. Already, green patches at schools, streets and yards have begun to form an emerald chain through the city.
Green Living Online is a wide portal for trending topics in sustainable and socially responsible consumerism. The blog does eco-friendly product reviews, covers events and holds its own contests and giveaways. Green Living even has its own green-friendly marketing agency. Their annual Green Living Expo at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto is Canada’s largest consumer show dedicated to environmental conservation and sustainability.
There are a number of blogs at the site, some of them specifically Toronto-based. At BikingToronto, Tyler Hamilton reports on local and international urban bicycling news and developments. Hamilton is a Toronto-based business journalist and sustainability advocate. Environmental journalist Candice Batista posts eco-friendly advice and video clips from her television show at A Greener Toronto. The Village Green reports on energy conservation and alternatives, with posts on the local Toronto scene. The Village Green blog comes out of Village Technologies, a Toronto-based building design company.
TreeHugger is a hugely successful blog that started as a grass-roots green blog offering lifestyle tips for becoming sustainable. Treehugger was in Time Magazine’s very first roundup of best blogs in 2009. The blog reports on green design, lifestyle, technology, architecture and transportation, among other topics. Food coverage, for example, encompasses recipes, restaurant reviews, diet tips and consumer news.
The blog’s managing editor is Toronto’s own Lloyd Alter. Alter, who teaches sustainable design at Ryerson University School of Interior Design, also edits Treehugger’s Design section. The Treehugger board is evenly split between Canadian and American editors. Other sections cover technology, transportation, science and jobs. Offering advice on living in an eco-friendly fashion through commentary, features and solutions, Treehugger remains a major portal for making sustainability mainstream.
Tyler Hamilton is the current editor-in-chief at Corporate Knights. The award-winning magazine appears as a quarterly insert in the Globe and Mail and the Washington Post. Until recently, Hamilton wrote a weekly business column called Clean Break that appeared in the Toronto Star. The decade-long column discussed trends, events and innovators in the clean technology and green energy markets.
Hamilton started a Clean Break personal blog in 2005, which served as an extension to the news column. In his Clean Break blog, Hamilton has been able to follow up his interests and reflect on his experiences in the clean energy field. These include, most recently, becoming director of ZooShare Biogas Cooperative. The co-op is building an anaerobic digester facility at the Toronto Zoo that will turn zoo animal manure into electricity for the Ontario grid.
Evergreen Brick Works is the park and wetlands developed in the former quarry and industrial site located in the Don River valley in Toronto. In the 1960s and 1970s, Don Valley Brick Works produced 43 million bricks a year. The valley in its current reincarnation as an urban park was developed with the help of Evergreen, the nonprofit Toronto-based company. Evergreen has also been developing the once-abandoned buildings into an urban environmental community centre.
The Evergreen blog reports on green and sustainable projects at the Brick Works, in Toronto in general, at schools across Canada and in wider urban environmentalism news. (Evergreen also has an office in British Columbia.) Evergreen keeps readers in touch with community involvement, school projects, stewardship, volunteerism, farmers markets and other civic activities. Videos of watershed programs show sustainability programs successfully in action.
Young Urban Farmers started in Toronto in 2009. Three recent business graduates with experience in backyard farming started a service that created produce gardens for urban dwellers. Young Urban Farmers have helped people throughout the city grow their own vegetables and fruits, in yards and on patios, decks, balconies and rooftops. The company creates edible landscaping, builds raised beds, offers self-watering containers, and delivers their own weekly produce specials right to any Toronto doorstep.
Young Urban Farmers spun off a CSA (share-based community supported agriculture) by the same name. The blog offers expert practical advice for urban gardeners. Each week a new gardening tip explains such topics as soil solarization, nitrogen fixing, spring planting warmups and how to use chopsticks in the garden. A separate blog keeps a running account of foods and services available week to week. The site keeps you in touch with the seasonal harvests of Toronto and creates a community of urban pioneers.
Image Credit: Simon Lieschke