The University of Toronto proves to be a source for environmental changemakers as students Lauren Ead and Christopher Ford were awarded the Youth Environmental Awards by Partners in Project Green on November 29, 2018.

In an interview with Newswire, John MacKenzie, CEO of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), stated “the members of Partners in Project Green have completed 2500 sustainability projects that continue to make direct positive contributions to the health of our environment.”

The Youth Environmental Award sponsored by Coca-Cola Canada encouraged students across the Greater Toronto Area to develop their own sustainability project to alleviate the effects of climate change municipally or privately. Alongside numerous other awards, Partners in Project Green awarded both Youth Environmental Awards to University of Toronto students Lauren Ead and Christopher Ford for their environmental efforts.

UTM student and recipient of the Undergraduate Environmental Award Lauren Ead described her proposed plan as “a waste management initiative within the clean technology sector. This hypothetical initiative would allow plastic commodities to be produced with plastic polymers that can be recycled an infinite amount of times.” Her goal was to “aid in alleviating the anthropogenic consequences attributed to plastic pollution through reducing production of plastic polymers.” Moving forward, Lauren intends to do further research in the subject matter and discuss implementation of her “hypothetical model with industry and research professionals, in hopes that it may play an integral role in waste management.”

When asked what prompted her interest in a waste management initiative, Lauren Ead stated, “plastic pollution has always been an important environmental issue to me, which has grown in importance throughout my ongoing research at Chelsea Rochman’s Microplastic laboratory, as I have seen the firsthand effects of microplastics.”

As a result of her research at the University of Toronto, Ead was motivated to design a hypothetical model to help lessen the detrimental effects of climate change which is, in part, caused by the growing plastic epidemic.

The second recipient, Christopher Ford, was awarded the Graduate Youth Environmental Award for his proposal, which “focused on the application of behavioural economics in policy-making related to energy, water, transportation, and waste.” Ford described the core idea of behavioural economics as compensating for irrational decision-makers through policy. When asked whether he would work towards implementing his proposal moving forward, he stated that, “the core ideas are definitely things I would like to see come to fruition here in Ontario.”

While he may not plan to directly integrate Behavioural Economics (BE) into the municipality of Toronto, Ford hopes to see the government move forward with environmental initiatives involving BE.

Christopher Ford’s interest in climate change stemmed from his time at the University of Toronto while completing a Master of Science in Sustainability Management. Through his program, Ford was introduced to the concept of behavioural economics, as taught by Dr. Jacob Hirsh. Resultingly, a plan to integrate behavioural economics into policy-making was designed by Ford to spur environmental change.

“This initiative has shaped how the business community implements sustainability projects” said VP of Stakeholder Relations and Communications for the Greater Toronto Airports Security Hillary Marshall. Through sustainability initiatives drawn up by people like Lauren Ead and Christopher Ford, founders of Partners in Project Green “look forward to working together for many years to come.”