What is ecoTrent?
ecoTrent is intended to serve as an identifier for both new and existing environmental programs and to help highlight the collective positive impact we have, and could have, as a community.  It will be used to highlight areas where we are taking action, where we have made changes and to help promote ideas that will reduce our collective impact on the environment.  Think of ecoTrent as an umbrella program for Trent that helps us celebrate positive action taking place across campus while also providing a framework to help develop new programs. 

What is Sustainable Trent?

Sustainable Trent is a student run campus group, open to all members of the Trent community.  Sustainable Trent works on a number of environmental awareness and social justice campaigns.

I've heard Trent has a roof top garden -where is it?

In fact Trent University has a number of roof top gardens.  The most notable is the one on the top of the Environmental Science Building.  This green roof is used to grow vegetables that are then used to make the food served in the Seasoned Spoon Cafe.

Other green roofs at Trent appear to be at ground level and staff and students walk past them daily.  There are a series of green roof gardens on the Chemical Science Building that have long and short grasses and drought resistant ground cover as well as green roofs on Peter Gzowski College. 

How can I get involved in sustainability?

Everyone already is involved since we are all part of the Trent Community and all of our actions have an impact.  One of the easiest ways to make sure that your involvement is positive is to evaluate your daily activities and see where you can reduce your waste.  Familiarize yourself with how our waste management systems work at Trent.  Are you aware of what materials we recycle here?  Do you know the differences between Trent’s composting system and the one that you use at home?  Could you reduce the waste that you generate?  Could you conserve more energy by turning off unused lights and equipment?  Is there someone that you could carpool to work with?  Could you take the bus or ride a bike to work?

If you want to be directly involved in creating, facilitating and monitoring sustainability programs on campus, contact sustainability@trentu.ca.  Our Sustainability Coordinator will ask you a few questions about your skill set and interests and will suggest an area where you might enjoy volunteering or where your skills might be put to good use!

Why are we watering the gardens at Trent?

Grounds staff in the Department of Facilities Management primarily plant species that are native to the area.  This helps us to have gardens that are beautiful, culturally significant and drought resistant.  

When we plant gardens or have areas where we plant a few annuals for colour, they need water to help them get established and possibly to get them through a dry spell.  You will notice that most of our watering is not through irrigation systems.  It is not intended as a long-term plan.  We water only as needed and to help our plants establish roots for long-term health.   Grounds Staff monitor how far rain events percolate into the ground.  If the plants are in need of water and the rain has not penetrated deep enough into the ground, staff will water the plants.

What is that ‘foam’ on the River?

Trent University is located on the Otonabee River, adding to the beauty of the campus.  However sometimes there is a seemingly odd occurrence of puffs of floating foam on the river.  People often refer to these as ‘marshmallows’ and certainly make ‘what on earth are they’ a frequently asked question!   Luckily, we have experts in Trent’s water quality lab who can explain.  We are told that the humic acid/organic material in water tends to beat up like egg whites anywhere there is turbulence in the water. This only happens in brown water when the organic content is high (won't be found in clear water).  The locks upstream create a waterfall frothing up the humic material into this foam which then floats down the river.  Sometimes we also see this in rapids.

All of these light bulbs - what's the difference?

When we talk about energy conservation, typically the bulbs or "lamps" that we hear about are compact fluorescent (CFL), incandescent, halogen and LED's (Light Emitting Diodes). 

According to Natural Resources Canada, using standard incandescent light as the 'norm', CLF's use up to 75% less energy lasting up to 10 times longer and some Halogens can use up to 15% less energy and last up to four times longer. 

What they didn't compare is LED technology that is rapidly advancing.  Some LED's are now becoming available in stores.  According to GE, these bulbs last up to 50,000 hours and use up to 90% less energy! In the Spring of 2009, Trent moved forward with our first general illumination LED lighting installation.  These are in the library washrooms.

As we become more aware of the negative environmental impacts of inefficient lighting technology, new products are being developed that use less and less energy.  There is also becoming a greater diversity of these products, making suitable replacements for pot lights, chandeliers, lamps and most fixtures in your home and here on campus!  With the great cost savings and reduction in pollution, the time to change is now!

What can we do with Polystyrene? (a.k.a. Styrofoam)

There are a number of products that people ask about made from polystyrene. This material is commonly known as Styrofoam, which is actually a brand name.  This is similar to how we often call facial tissue, Kleenex.  

Trent offers a specialty service during move-in when we have a lot of this material on campus however throughout the year we have yet to identify an efficient way to collect this material.  It is accepted at the recycling facility on Pido Raod however they only take the bulky, packing type and not the kind used for take-out food.  The good news is Trent has worked to eliminate this type from our food services!

What can I recycle at Trent?

In Trent's basic recycling program, we accept the following:

Paper Products:

  • newspapers
  • magazines
  • catalogues
  • office paper
  • fax paper
  • note paper
  • envelopes
  • junk mail
  • coffee cups (no lids)
  • corrugated cardboard
  • boxboard such as cereal boxes, facial tissue boxes, cracker boxes & laundry soap boxes


  • all plastic pop, water & juice bottles
  • plastic yogurt, margarine & ice cream containers
  • shampoo, detergent & soap bottles
  • aluminum cans & foil
  • all metal food containers
  • cartons from milk, juice & drink boxes
  • food & beverage glass (this means that you must have purchased a type of food or beverage in this glass)

What can I compost at Trent?

In Trent's compost program we accept:

  • bread & baked goods
  • coffee grounds and filters
  • compostable take-out containers
  • fried foods
  • fruit and vegetable scraps
  • meat & cheese
  • paper towels
  • paper napkins
  • paper plates
  • paper sandwich wrap
  • tea bags
  • waxed paper

Can I recycle plastic bags?

Yes.  Plastic bags are recyclable; however we encourage people to carry reusable bags to avoid wasting bags at all.  If you do find that you have plastic bags that needs to be recycled, you can take one bag, stuff it full of other plastic bags and tie it shut.  Please put this bundle of bags in with our paper recycling. We have also included plastic bags in our new Deep Diversion Stations.

Why so complicated?  At the recycling facility all of the material is processed on large conveyer belts. A bundle of bags can easily be sorted out; single bags are difficult. To make this worse, the recycling facility has large doors that open frequently to allow trucks to tip their loads. When this happens, it can become windy in the facility and single bags blow around becoming a nuisance for workers and getting stuck in the gears of the conveyor belts.