Welcome to the CEP Toronto blog. This is an open space for CEP Toronto members to share their thoughts and stories on the environmental/sustainability industry. Have a good post? We would love to read it. So go ahead and share!

  • 08 Jan 2018 6:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dreaming of a Green Christmas: Sustainability During the Holidays

    By Dennis He, January 8th, 2018

    For many, the holidays are a black mark on our green report cards. While the holidays are no doubt about spending time with friends and family, it’s also a time when we spend and consume. All the wrapping paper, excessive waste at holiday parties, and unnecessary gifting goes far and beyond what we usually throw in the garbage. In fact, Canadians throw away 100% more trash between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve than any other period during the year. Despite knowing how unsustainable the holidays can be, many are reluctant to try to change any traditions for the sake of being green. It might seem like an impossible task trying to ‘green up’ the holidays, but it doesn’t have to be! Here are some thoughts on the holiday season, and what can be done to make them a bit greener.

    Try Balancing Convenience and Sustainability

    During the holidays, it’s easy to have any efforts at sustainability go out the door. While we might compost regularly, we’re much more tempted to throw things in the trash during a post-party cleanup. Instead of using actual silverware, we opt for single-use paper trays and plastic cups because it’s easier. While it’s more convenient to get a stack of plastic plates to entertain, it doesn’t do the planet any favours.

    Even if you don’t have enough cutlery to host a massive dinner party, there are more sustainable alternatives. There are many companies that manufacture heavy-duty plastic plates, ideal for parties and entertaining. They’re light and thin enough to be purchased in bulk, yet reusable too! If it’s a small gathering of friends, you could opt to borrow silverware from a neighbour, or pick up some extra plates from the local thrift store. There are many low-cost options out there that’ll let you entertain with minimal waste.

    Green Your Gifting - Buy Local, Give Experiences

    We’ve all had someone that’s impossible to shop for. While we’re almost certain that whatever we give them won’t be used, we’re obligated to give them something. That sort of waste really makes you wonder. Imagine the amount of effort that goes into making, say, an ugly Christmas sweater. Think about the cost of raising sheep, the electricity and additives needed for shearing and processing, and the emissions generated during shipping and handling… only to be hidden away in a closet. 35% of Americans have an unused Christmas present collecting dust in their closets, and the Canadian statistic is undoubtedly similar.

    You might be asking if this is a wicked problem. You don’t want to seem too thrifty and give a bad gift, but you also want to gift in an environmentally friendly way. While many environmentalists have heard of the 100-mile diet or shopping local, few consider local artisans for their holiday gifting. This year, there were dozens of holiday markets around southwestern Ontario that displayed fantastic holiday gifts and treats. While it’s too late for this holiday season, consider visiting one next year to chat with local artisans and see what they have to offer. Most of their creations use local materials, are homemade, and are often one-of-a kind. Best of all, your dollar stays within the local community!

    Consider giving an experience instead of a gift. While not everyone could use a new blender or sweater, there’s few people that would turn down a weekend getaway. You could also consider getting them a gift certificate to a resort, spa, or even an auto repair shop. Memberships to experiences like rock climbing gyms or community gardens are a viable option as well. Bonus points if you can gift something that supports local artisans and businesses!

    Live Frugally to Minimize Your Footprint

    With the new year just starting, many of us are thinking about ways to change ourselves and our attitudes. Whether it’s hitting the gym, taking up a new hobby, or something else, consider taking on another resolution: living a more frugal lifestyle.

    When you think of frugal, you might think of you grandparent’s tales of the Great Depression or (closer to home) your days of eating ramen in college. But living a frugal lifestyle doesn’t have to mean that you sacrifice your health or well-being… it means that you consume less. In fact, frugality ties in very well with a sustainable lifestyle. Instead of consuming fewer environmentally harmful products, wouldn’t it be better to consume less?

    Frugality isn’t too difficult to bring into the new year, but it does involve a few key steps. The first step is to figure out the differences between your wants and your needs. For example, you’ll need to set aside money for food and rent, but consider passing up on that occasional shopping splurge or new tech toy. It means you might have to sit down and figure out what you need on a day-to-day basis. It also might mean that you cut down on a subscription service that you never actually use. These are all steps that don’t cost much (it wouldn’t be very frugal if it did!) and will end up saving money and minimizing your waste footprint.

    Wrapping it all up!

    With all the consumption, spending, and excesses, the holidays are a tough time for sustainability. That doesn’t mean you can’t also make environmentally friendly choices at the same time! Think about your party planning practices and how you can switch to more reusable options. Consider buying local gifts, gifting local experiences, and living a more frugal and sensible lifestyle as part of your new year’s resolutions. These are all small steps that can help green up your holidays!

    Happy New Year everyone!

  • 29 Sep 2015 11:16 AM | Anonymous member
    At our September CEP CONNECTs we had Robyn Gray from Sussex Strategy Group discuss the environment and the federal elections. She even created this primer highlighting each parties position on several environmental issues. Remember to vote on October 19th! And once again thank you Robyn for leading our discussion - it was very informative and we had so much fun!

    Environmental Issues Comparison

  • 02 Sep 2015 1:42 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Emerging Environmental Leaders Forum 

    Tuesday, March 1, 2016 


    Organizing Committee Directors 

    (Volunteer Opportunities) 

    Click here to download Posting

    Connecting Environmental Professionals (CEP) Canada and The Delphi Group, working in conjunction with the GLOBE Foundation, are inviting you to take part in the organization and delivery of the 6th bi-annual Leading Change Forum for Emerging Environmental Leaders – to be held and integrated with the GLOBE 2016 Conference in Vancouver (March 2-4, 2016). 

    The Leading Change event is a forum of environmentally and sustainably minded students and young professionals from across Canada; to bring them together and catalyze action on environmental, social and economic issues critical to attaining a sustainable future for Canada and the world. 

    The Forum’s mission is to bring together young Canadians between the ages of 19-35 on a bi-annual basis to share ideas, plans, and thoughts, and to create a space where networking, learning and development can prosper. 

    We are looking for 5 experienced and enthusiastic individuals to join the Organizing Committee of the Forum as Directors. This Committee will include the Project Manager and 5 Directors. The 5 new Directors will share the following skills: 

    • A detail and task oriented work ethic; 
    • Demonstrated experience working on medium to large scale events and/or campaigns; 
    • A passion for, and/or experience in, the environmental and sustainability sector; 
    • The ability to work in a team of committed volunteers; 
    • The ability to commit between 5 – 7 hours per week (increasing as the event draws near) this fall, winter, and spring. 

    The Forum Directors will take direction and guidance from a senior group of environmental and sustainability professionals who have agreed to act as an Advisory Committee. 

    Your Role: Each Director will be responsible for a specific area of the organization of the Forum. With the support of the Project Manager, you will develop and implement a work plan. Your responsibilities will include: 

    • Participating in weekly team meetings (conference call); 
    • Updating the Project Manager on the progress of your work; 
    • Supporting other Directors in their efforts. 

    As a member of the Organizing Committee and in consultation with each member, Directors will be assigned or choose an area of expertise. Please see the next page for details of the areas of expertise we are looking for. 

    Benefits: In this role, you will benefit from meeting and working with an expanded network of emerging environmental leaders, industry experts, as well as exciting and high profile speakers, panelists and project advisors. As a member of the Organizing Committee, you will be coached by the Project Manager helping you develop and strengthen your organizational, communication and leadership skills. You will cultivate a unique roster of contacts in the private, not-for-profit and government sectors, and deliver a high profile and rewarding event. All interested candidates should apply for a Director position. Five candidates will be selected and will be each assigned an area of expertise according to their interest and skills. Flights to/from and accommodation in Vancouver will be provided for all Directors for the duration of the Forum. 

    If you are interested in this exciting and dynamic volunteer position, please send your CV and a brief (150 – 450 words) statement outlining your preferred area of focus, why you are interested in this opportunity, and are the best candidate for this position, to: by Wednesday, September 16th, 2015. 

    Areas of Expertise 


    • Work with the Project Manager and Forum’s Advisory Committee to develop a marketing strategy and build on event brand; 
    • Promote and build excitement around the Forum; 
    • Create promotional material; 
    • Update website and event app content; 
    • Use various forms of media to attract young leaders to the Forum. 

    Logistics (Vancouver-based) 

    • Coordinate venue bookings, hospitality (catering) and other details for the Forum as well as the Welcome and Closing socials; 
    • Prepare and print contents of the Forum participant’s arrival package; 
    • Prepare all materials required on the day of the Forum (signage, handouts, name tags, etc.); 
    • Make all necessary arrangements for all physical and human resources needed on the day of the Forum. 

    Future Leader Engagement 

    • Develop and implement a recruitment strategy for Forum participants; 
    • Manage the application and registration processes; 
    • Respond to requests by applicants and participants for additional information; 
    • Create communications to engage participants before the Forum; 
    • Create and analyze a Forum feedback survey. 

    Speaker Communications and Program Management 

    • Work with GLOBE Conference Program directors to coordinate speakers 
    • Keep track of speakers that have been invited to participate and of their response; 
    • Prepare information packages for speakers and mentors to explain the goals of the Forum and how we see their contribution; 
    • Collect all speaker and mentor biographies and photos for the website; 
    • Source and purchase “Thank you” gifts; 
    • Arrange for any special requirements for the speakers and mentors; 
    • Be the main point of contact for speakers and mentors on the day of the Forum. 

    Sustainability and Sponsorship 

    • Assist the Advisory Committee to seek out and build connections with companies who want to partner with Leading Change to provide financial and in-kind sponsorship; 
    • Source out and purchase contents for the Forum participant arrival packages; 
    • Maintain and enhance the sustainable event best practices developed at previous Leading Change events, and assist the committee in making the best decisions along the planning process to create an event with as small an environmental footprint as possible; 
    • Create a sustainability report at the conclusion of the event. 

    Connect with us online: 


    Leading Change Canada 

    Leading Change Canada – Emerging Environmental Leaders Forum 

  • 05 Aug 2015 10:39 PM | Anonymous member
    On the July edition of CEP CONNECT, members of CET Toronto watched the inspiring play the Watershed. Here is what our member Isabelle Netto felt about the play:

    To The Watershed with CEP

    If you work in the water industry, you’ve probably already heard of The Watershed, a play about the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) that was part of Panamania’s cultural programming. But if you’ve never seen documentary theatre before, nothing can prepare you for what an incredible learning journey it can be.  Last Tuesday, July 14, CEP Toronto organized a group outing to go see the play at the Berkeley Theatre.

    The Watershed focused on the federal government’s shutdown of the ELA and its subsequent rescue by the IISD. This was of special interest to me – I’ve been hearing about the ELA and involved scientists since I first started researching freshwater pollution as a grad student many years ago, when I was inspired enough to attend every event where Maude Barlow or David Schindler were speaking. About a year ago, I couldn’t understand how the ELA, one of the world’s greatest research facilities, had to resort to Indiegogo to stay afloat (to which I dutifully donated in exchange for a postcard); but after that I stopped following its plight, because at that point it was just too sad.

    So it was with much anticipation and curiosity that I went to see The Watershed. Told from the perspective of the playwright herself (Annabel Soutar) as the main character, and drawing parallels with her own experience researching the ELA debacle, the play doesn’t tell the audience what to think, but makes us question everything instead, regardless of what our preconceived opinions may be. Ultimately, it reinforces the idea that even when there is no agreement between both sides of the issue and it’s hard to find common ground, change doesn’t happen in the absence of collaboration – and it’s up to us to figure it out.

    It was also fantastic to have the chance to talk to the actors after the show, it really added another layer of meaning to it all. A big thanks to Jonathan for arranging this!

    The Watershed opens again in Montreal this November (en français), and will likely run again in Toronto sometime next year. Don’t miss it!

    A big thanks to Isabelle for her contribution! 

    CEP Toronto will continue to bring together the environmental professionals in this city. We strive to provide our members various opportunities to engage the diverse topics in the environmental sector. Hope to see you at our next event!  

  • 17 Jun 2015 9:25 PM | Anonymous member

    Cindy Xiao - our Career Development Manager, is excited to officially launch the 'Career Spotlight' series. These blog posts will feature interviews with established professionals who will share their various career paths and insights into how to kick start your career.  

    The first 'Career Spotlight' features the environmental, health & safety profession which is one the most fast-growing occupations in North America. With tighter government regulations and increasing public concern over health and safety issues, this profession is trending hot on the job market now and in the future.

    An Environmental, health & safety professional, or EHS for short, typically protects the well-being of the public by ensuring environmental regulations and workplace safety standards are met. These types of professions, ranging from Public Health Inspectors in provincial government agencies to Process Safety Engineers in food processing facilities, work in a variety of environments both in  the public and private sector.  According to Eco Canada’s labour market research, conducted in 2012,  there were an estimated 79,400 Canadians working  in core EHS occupations with a primary focus on the field of EHS and 1.8 million who used some EHS skills and knowledge in their day-to-day work.  

    A typical EHS career path starts with entry-level positions such as EHS specialists or coordinators. Paul Thomas, former senior safety, security, environmental manager at Kraft Canada, told CEP Toronto  that these entry-level positions typically look after the applications of environmental and safety programs and collect information for reporting.  Strong technical knowledge, as well as excellent verbal & written communication skills, and strong problem solving skills are key to the success of these positions. As individuals advance to more senior EHS positions, the ability to quickly build trust and engage in collaboration are important skills, as more senior individuals tend to rely  on direct reports from the field most of the time.

    Nowadays, more and more employers are looking for professional designations when making hiring decisions. The most well known designation in Canada is the Canadian Registered Safety Professionals, which evaluates applicants with formal education, professional development, and hands-on experience. Other coveted ones include Registered Occupational Hygienist . In the US, Certified Safety Professionals and Occupational Health & Safety Technologist are the most valuable ones. In terms of which designation to pursue, Paul suggests that fellow young professionals look at where they want to go in their career and select the designation that best aligns with their interests.    

    Check out this page regularly for updated blog posts.


    2012 Eco Canada Labour Market Research

    Canadian Registered Safety Professionals Eligibility

    Registered Occupational Hygienist Eligibility

    Certified Safety Professional Website

    Occupational Health & Safety Technologist

  • 14 May 2014 1:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Young professionals discuss environmental and sustainability issues

    From starting urban gardens to launching green teams, young environmental and sustainability professionals can start to initiate change for a more sustainable future.

    A source of their motivation is the recent Leading Change Canada Emerging Leaders Forum in Vancouver. Held every two years, the conference unites young professionals from across Canada to discuss environmental and sustainability issues, as part of a push to create a national movement. Through discussion and engagement, delegates are empowered to catalyze positive change, beginning with actions in their communities.

    Sarah Jane Wolch of Brookfield Johnson Controls Canada and part of the 2014 forum’s organizing committee, says participants explored trends driving future energy, food and water needs. Farming representatives, for instance, discussed initiatives such as urban farming and gardens and the value of farmers’ markets for sustainable production.

    These are ideas that forum delegates could take home and implement, as change first blossoms locally.

    “Someone might say that’s small stuff but the fact is these little initiatives, once they start connecting together, become something large,” Wolch says.

    “We try to inspire this generation to be the grassroots (activists) because at the end of the day, that’s as much as you have control of.

    “It’s how everyone can work within their own communities themselves and make change there, and then hoping to inspire the next generation and the next group and the next group that come through, to continue to make these small changes within their own communities, and then have it all add up,” Wolch says.

    The 2014 forum delegates also considered how their generation will work within corporate structures and the changes that are occurring and necessary for the next group of leaders to be engaged in organizations to address environmental, social and economic issues critical for a sustainable future.

    As well, participants could learn about local, national and international developments at the GLOBE 2014 business sustainability summit, which immediately followed the Leading Change Canada forum.

    Hearing about what’s happening at various levels was energizing, Wolch says.

    “It’s a real opportunity to hear what’s going on around the country and the world,” she says. “And it’s to be able to hear these ideas and take what you can and apply it to your own community.”

    Wolch anticipates delegates will be able to build on the forum’s energy and take action, with the support of the Connecting Environmental Professionals (CEP).

    CEP has chapters across Canada to support networking, capacity building and career opportunities for young professionals, with the Calgary group taking on the planning of the 2016 Leading Change Canada forum.

    “Under the CEP platform, we’ll be able to create more community-based engagement activities,” Wolch says.

    “We now have a hub in each community where a lot of our (forum) delegates are from to keep things going.”

    Wolch notes delegates came to the forum from areas like the Yukon and want to remain engaged with their counterparts. A resource document is to provide suggestions on how they can get involved in their communities. The CEP organization also provides a way for young professionals to learn about what others are doing, including how to start a CEP chapter. The Toronto chapter is currently being revived and Wolch envisions sharing their activities at the next Leading Change Canada forum in 2016.

    “When 2016 rolls around, we’ll have a solid delegation from Toronto head to the event to share what they’ve done, get re-inspired and learn what everyone else is doing in the country, and then come back to Toronto again to repeat the process.

  • 05 May 2014 5:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Things are starting to warm up in the city! What are your favourite things to do in Toronto that are eco-friendly? Share any great hangout spots, activities, farmers markets that you enjoy with your fellow members!

    Some of ours include:
    • Hiking through the Rouge River park
    • Bike riding through the Don Valley
    • Checking out Evergreen Brickworks' Farmers Market
    • Bike riding on the Island 
  • 01 May 2014 1:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Leading Change Canada holds panel discussion at GLOBE 2014

    Entrepreneurship could be a focus at the next Leading Change Canada Emerging Environmental Leaders Forum, as young environmental and sustainability professionals aim to catalyze action and influence positive change.

    Brookfield Johnson Controls Canada's Sarah Jane Wolch, one of the organizers of the 2014 forum, says entrepreneurship was one of the themes percolating at the recent one-day event as well as the Leading Change Canada panel discussion held at GLOBE 2014, which is North America's biggest business sustainability summit and immediately followed the emerging leaders forum in Vancouver.

    "We're getting creative and saying we'll create our own things if we can't fit into corporate structures," Wolch says.

    Aiming to address issues critical for a sustainable future, including climate change, young environmental and sustainability professionals want to find the nexus between the idealism of the next generation and the realities of operating systems.

    "That's really what our organization tries to have a discussion around: how do we bring those two things together and move forward," Wolch says.

    The panel explored how companies – faced with existing talent gaps and projected labour shortages – can recruit and retain emerging professionals and leaders who are socially-minded and environmentally-conscious. Hiring policies, for instance, need to evolve to engage the next generation whom, Wolch says, highly value such things as a flexible workspace and capacity for creativity. Companies that adapt to this cultural shift in values will be better able to keep pace with the next generation of socially-conscious consumers and workers.

    The discussion prompted Wolch to reflect on her own role and career path. She feels fortunate to be part of an organization that has environmental stewardship and restorative business practices embedded in its values, operations and services.

    "We have a leader who says climate change is a problem. I couldn't work for a company where a CEO doesn't get that," Wolch says. "I'm realizing that I might not have been aware of it at the time as much, but I did make my own career decision on these things that our generation cares about."

    Brookfield Johnson Controls Canada is also evolving with the changing workforce by providing such services as strategic workspace management to support a more mobile and flexible workstyle.

    "We're seeing changes in the real-estate world more than I think most people would imagine," Wolch says.

    When compared to the 2012 Leading Change Canada forum she attended as a participant, Wolch says this year's gathering saw more people expressing interest in entrepreneurship. For instance, a lunchtime panel on urban farming and other food-based initiatives turned into a discussion about being an entrepreneur and starting a company.

    As a closing report on the forum takes shape for presentation to the 2016 forum's organizing committee, Wolch says entrepreneurship could be a major topic for exploration.

    Leading Change Canada was formed to create a national movement of young environmental and sustainability professionals working together to catalyze positive change for a sustainable future. Through engagement and discussion, new ideas spark and participants are empowered to act in their communities.

    Wolch says having the Leading Change Canada forum at the GLOBE conference- a first – served to amplify the voice of the next generation. And it was inspiring to hear at GLOBE 2014 about developments and insights on business and sustainability, from the local to international stages.

    "It's a real opportunity to hear what's going on around the country and the world," Wolch says. "And it's to be able to hear these ideas and take what you can and apply it to your own community.

    "And the point of the forum, prior to all that, is to say that we can do something."

    For more on Leading Change Canada, visit

  • 10 Mar 2014 12:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Hey CEP Toronto Members,

    We are getting ready to host our first mentorship breakfast! Where would you like to have breakfast in Toronto? Feel free to suggest your favourite spots and maybe we will check it out!

    Stay tuned for updates on event details and registration!
  • 24 Feb 2014 1:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Sarah Jane Wolch considers herself fortunate to have joined Brookfield Johnson Controls Canada early in her career. The company’s weaving of environmental stewardship into its values and operations aligns with her own personal goals and passion to help create a sustainable future.

    Wolch is now working to support other members of the next generation of leaders with the revival of Connecting Environmental Professionals (CEP) in Toronto.

    “It’s fun to pay it forward,” she says. “I’ve been fortunate that others have helped me along the way so I want to be able to help those that are finding their way now.”

    Wolch is vice-president of operations with CEP Toronto, which recently held a successful launch night. The non-profit, volunteer-based organization is dedicated to creating opportunities for emerging and established environmental and sustainability professionals in the GTA. Its activities centre around three pillars of education, engagement and employment.

    Wolch says CEP, which has chapters across Canada, caters to a niche group of young professionals with career ambition and a passion to change the world. They’re looking to be part of a professional organization that’s accessible and affordable and supports them in networking, building capacity and developing career opportunities.

    “This is really an opportunity to create a structured but still fun group of young people looking to find their place in the city and have a place to have their voice heard,” Wolch says.

    “A lot of people are saying they’ve been looking for something like this in the community, so we’re pretty excited about it,” she adds.

    Wolch was a member of CEP’s Calgary chapter and, about eight months ago, became part of a team wanting to revive the fading Toronto branch.

    “We wanted to bring CEP back in Toronto and provide a group that caters to those who are either looking to make a career change, wanting to tie in more of the sustainability/environmental world into their daily jobs, or just getting started,” Wolch says.

    The Toronto chapter is in its early days but already has about 30 members and is receiving a lot of support from the other CEP chapters in Canada.

    The sold-out launch event Feb. 11 was kept low key but featured four inspirational speakers who underscored the point of hard work and being passionate about doing what you really want to do, Wolch says.

    The event also highlighted the emerging trend that sustainability is becoming engrained in everyone’s job. Wolch, for instance, is a marketing a proposal co-ordinator at Brookfield Johnson Controls Canada but she supports existing clients in achieving their environmental goals and guides new clients on reducing their carbon footprint.

    “It’s really an evolution that we’re starting to see in the industry, and Brookfield Johnson Controls Canada is a good example of how sustainability is being cushioned to everyone’s job,” Wolch says. “That really ties into the nature of CEP as an organization. It’s not exclusive, it’s about bringing in everyone from every different path and educating them on something they might be passionate about.”

    CEP Toronto’s next step is to draw out a short- and long-term strategy, with the help of advisers, for building membership as well as value for members. Wolch can see the chapter holding mentorship breakfasts this year as it develops a mentorship program. “It’s bringing out those established leaders who want to share their time and help the next generation and formalize it based on interests and goals and pairing up our members with a mentor.”

    CEP also provides volunteer opportunities for members so they can develop skills in a hands-on manner. Wolch says one such opportunity is coming for Toronto members - they will be able to support CEP Calgary in taking over the planning of a Leading Change Canada Emerging Environmental Leaders Forum, which is held every two years in conjunction with the GLOBE sustainability conference.

    Part of the forum’s organizing committee, Wolch says it “will be exciting to provide that opportunity to our members to take part in either organizing or attending the forum.”

    Looking ahead, Wolch envisions CEP Toronto becoming an established network for young professionals who are new to the GTA, seeking a career change or seeking support and help.

    “The dream is to be that springboard into whatever the next step might be for our members,” Wolch says.

    In the meantime, new members are welcome to join. More on CEP Toronto can be found on their website at

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