Unwreck the Beach: So... you missed Earth Day. Here are some sustainable efforts you can join this summer.

Who said you can only celebrate our lovely blue planet once a year?

The day we now celebrate as Earth Day began as a smörgasbord of teach-ins, tree plantings and protests across the United States on April 22, 1970. 

Supposedly, this date steers clear of spring breaks and final exams. But for us maple-tinged universities, it’s smack dab in the middle of exam and moving season. What’s more, they had to put it right next to another 'green' holiday. How do they expect us to have such stamina?

All jokes aside, the Earth has done so much to support us, and the steps we take to care for our planet can also help us grow more connected with our community. Here are some sustainability and climate justice efforts you can take part in at UBC this summer.

Sustaingineering UBC

After months of design, trial and error, Sustaingineering UBC is bringing its tiny home project to campus! The prototype looks to incorporate elements such as rainwater harvesting, a solar-powered water pump and a small-scale wind turbine.

Students who are interested in participating but aren’t yet on the team are encouraged to contact sustaingineering@gmail.com to check for availability. Recruitment for the fall term will begin on Imagine Day.

Climate Justice UBC

Student advocacy doesn’t stop in the summer. Climate Justice UBC (CJUBC) is working to gather student pressure on RBC to divest from fossil fuels, given their status as the largest fossil-fuel financier in Canada and on-campus presence within the Nest. The club is also gearing up for its reinvestment campaign with Divest UVic and SFU350 to encourage universities divesting from fossil fuels to fund efforts that promote “social, economic and environmental wellbeing” within their communities. 

Students who are interested in attending informational meetings or participating in advocacy campaigns are encouraged to follow CJUBC on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and reach out to the coordinators at climatejusticeubc@gmail.com.


Sprouts is hosting its first summer mutual aid project! Our local volunteer-run food co-op is leading a meal-distribution project providing fresh food to folks in the Downtown Eastside. Volunteers can help prepare food in the Sprouts kitchen or drive and distribute meals. No prior experience required, commitment is once weekly for a calendar month. To find out more about volunteering for Sprouts, check out its Instagram page.

Sprouts has also begun hosting a community fridge, freezer and pantry in the lower level of the Life Building. Volunteers will replenish the fridge from time to time with food donated by local grocery stores and bakeries, so take what you need and pitch in when you can! (Community members are reminded to review the donation guidelines prior to donating and to avoid leaving opened, home-cooked or expired food in the community fridge.)

Xʷc̓ic̓əsəm Garden

If you are a guest to xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, it’s worth learning about the community and lands that surround us. Xʷc̓ic̓əsəm — hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ for “the place where we grow” — invites individuals to engage with Indigenous understandings of healing and share traditional plant knowledge and Indigenous food sovereignty practices. Medicinal plants such as sage and tobacco grow alongside native food crops from a diverse array of Indigenous communities.

Planting and harvesting opportunities are posted to the garden’s Instagram page as they become available. Volunteers are encouraged to arrive on-time for the start of the session to best settle into the space before working in the garden.

UBC Farm

Get your hands dirty, learn and support your community while you’re at it. The UBC Farm volunteer program provides UBC students, staff, faculty members and members of the wider community the chance to gain hands-on experience in many aspects of small-scale sustainable farming. Opportunities available from May to September. 

If meal-prepping is more your style, consider shopping for produce at the UBC Farm Farmers Market when it opens up in June (alongside other Vancouver farmers markets). Opening June 4, operating Tuesdays (4–6 p.m.) and Saturdays (10 a.m.–2 p.m.) at UBC Farm, rain or shine. Weekly vendor lists available here.

Sustainability Hub staff recommendations

For those out of the know, the UBC Sustainability Hub acts as a connector, curator and facilitator of climate action efforts across campus. While the Hub occasionally hosts events (which it posts to its monthly newsletter) and climate action resource guides, I asked engagement managers Jon Garner and Tawnee Milko for ways students could get involved this summer. Here’s what they said:

On the academic front, consider taking a summer course on the climate crisis — or finding a course to take next school year! Some offerings include;

  • CONS 210: Visualizing Climate Change
  • EOSC 270: Marine Ecosystems
  • NURS 290: Health Impacts of Climate Change
  • GEOG 313: Environmental Justice and Social Change
  • ECON 371: Economics and the Environment

If your noggin needs a rest:

  • UBC’s Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP) invites community members to imagine and design a more sustainable and inclusive Vancouver at its in-person Cool Hood Champs workshop series. Wednesdays in June from 6–8 p.m. at the Trout Lake Community Center.
  • Apply to join the volunteer Zero Waste Squad from May to August. Students will help run summer events including Jump Start and Imagine Day and support residence zero-waste initiatives. 
  • If you’re part of a club or lab looking to be more sustainable, check out UBC’s Green Events Guide and Green Labs Toolkit for resources and contacts.

If you, in total, need a rest:

  • Take a stroll through the UBC Botanical Garden — for free! With over 100 years of stewardship, Canada’s oldest university botanical garden hosts around 30,000 plants from across the world. April showers give way to May’s “late flowering” rhododendrons. Students and alumni also receive a 50 per cent discount on the Greenheart Treewalk, an aerial trail system that traverses the forest canopy. In-person and virtual events for the garden’s May Biodiversity Days series can be found here. Open Wednesday to Sunday, 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m..
    • Engage your creative side with the Climate Hub’s EcoPoem challenge. UBC Climate Hub shared four poem prompts for National Poetry Month to help connect ourselves with our present and imagine what our future planet and communities might look like. Follow the Climate Hub’s Instagram page for the prompts, check out their Climate Wellbeing Resource Kit, and subscribe to their newsletter for future opportunities.
    • Go visit the Nitobe Memorial Garden. Located near Place Vanier, the garden is sure to bring you back to those days in first year. As a student, you can visit for free!

    Matt Asuncion is a fifth-year media studies student and the resident Ubyssey sustainability noodle. He is a staff writer for The Ubyssey. You can connect with him on Twitter @MattJAsuncion or catch him riding around campus on the Ubyssey office tandem bike.

    Unwreck the Beach is The Ubyssey’s sustainability column. Send topics you’d like covered and pitches to sustainability@ubyssey.ca.