Since day one, Extra Ed has integrated the preservation and restoration of our environment into our most basic operations. This organization operates on the understanding that the environment needs our help, and we cannot ignore this - especially because we work to prepare children for a bright-as-possible future.

The motivation behind our environmental initiatives has always been the recognition that if we were serious about making a difference, it had to be integrated in our most basic business practices and remain in lockstep with our growth.

Several years in and counting, we are proud of our accomplishments. Our tree planting initiative has been the highlight but we have done so much more, and as we continue to grow, so too will our efforts to restore and preserve our environment.

Please take a look at what we have done, and where we are going.

Founder's
Letter
Tree
Planting
Park/Playground
Restoration
Paper
Repurpose
School
Placements
Up
Next

It is my firm belief that we all have a responsibility to actively help our environment rebound and flourish. I also believe that it is incumbent on every business or organization to do the same, or at the very least, to account for what they are (or are not) doing in this effort. I understand that not everyone may share these views - but I stand firm here. As long as I am running this organization, these beliefs will remain front and center in how I direct this business.

I founded Extra Ed in 2015, just after my first child was born. It was a time of great ideals for me - not just about being a father, but also making a positive impact in the world that my wife had brought our child into.

But it wasn’t always like that. Before my child was born, I found myself struggling to digest news about the state of the world’s environment. I felt powerless to do anything about it; it all seemed so much bigger than me. But when my child was born, my thinking around all of this changed dramatically. I decided to show them what it looked like to take action, and empower them to effect change when they grew older.

So I founded Extra Ed, an organization that would integrate environmental action into its day-to-day operations right from the beginning. To be clear, Extra Ed is first and foremost an organization that delivers quality educational programs. But this “Sustainability” page focuses on what we are doing besides just running a business - and more specifically, what we are doing for our environment. All the ideals in the world about making a difference environmentally would mean nothing if our business itself wasn’t sustainable. Our efforts with the environment hinge on us being great at what we do so that we can keep this effort moving.

Today, I am immensely proud to say that the ideals I started this business with are well intact. We have created and delivered a wide range of educational programs that are a great combination of fun, challenging, and interesting. We have become Educational Partners with the TDSB and approved vendors in multiple school boards across southern Ontario, and we are still growing!

Extra Ed parents, students, and employees have volunteered to plant over ten thousand trees and have cleaned up local parks and school playgrounds. We have diverted tens of thousands of sheets of paper from school waste bins and turned them into our office paper and notepads, school worksheets, and flyers. And finally, we have stayed nimble as we have grown; we strive to schedule instructors close to their respective programs to limit their transportation footprint.

We are not perfect. Nobody is. But I am convinced that if every business took action on the environment in proportion to us, we would all be better off. I invite you to take a look below at what we have done, what we are doing, and where we are going.

Program
History
Results
Extra Ed plants a tree with every registration we receive in any of our lunch and after-school clubs, even if the family can’t afford to pay. We either give the baby tree to the child directly or plant them ourselves. When we say we plant them ourselves, we mean it. Over the years, Extra Ed staff, along with parents and students from our programs, have planted thousands of trees. As we have grown, we have also teamed up with other wonderful organizations that have not only helped us get higher and higher volumes of trees into the ground, but also make sure that they are properly taken care of to ensure a high chance of survival. There are too many benefits of planting trees to mention: from habitat restoration to providing a little shade on our city streets for future generations, planting trees (and ensuring they survive) is the perfect combination that brings together long term thinking, care for our environment, and real impact. Depending on the species, mature trees can absorb over 20kg of carbon dioxide in a single year, and over a tonne in one hundred years. So let’s get more and more of them into the ground!

Extra Ed began its tree planting program with seeds and pots, in our kitchens and on our balconies. We stratified the seeds, planted them, and then took the sprouts to the schools to give to the students who asked for them. As for the extra tree sprouts (the ones parents asked us to plant ourselves)? We took them to school fairs and donated them.

As our organization grew, it became clear that this approach needed to change. Although the idea of growing trees from seeds was noble, it was also short-sighted. Far too much work and space was required, and we realized we needed help. and we didn’t have it. Even if we did stick with the approach of growing trees from seeds, it was hard to get them into the ground, and there were only so many we could give away at school fairs. We needed a place to plant them ourselves, but quickly learned this is extremely hard to find (especially in a city) even if they are native species.

Thankfully, we forged partnerships with organizations that not only helped us grow our trees, but also allowed us to plant them alongside their wonderful teams. The best part? Once they were planted, these same organizations took care of them, giving them a great shot at survival. One of the not-so-fun facts about planting trees is that the vast majority of them will likely not survive without post-planting care, such as regular watering. Today, Extra Ed’s trees have about an 80% survival rate (which is very high!), all thanks to the wonderful organizations we have partnered with.

Trees Planted10,027

For every registration we receive for an Extra Ed program, we plant a tree. We either provide them as sprouts to our students or plant them on their behalf. Like learning, trees grow with care and stewardship, and remind us of the delicate ecosystem we live in and can learn from. Here is a breakdown:

  • 3,315 White Pines
  • 2,667 White Spruce
  • 803 White Cedar
  • 1,850 Red and Silver Maples
  • 517 White Birch
  • 200 Hackberry
  • 275 Eastern White Pine
  • 300 Colorado Spruce
  • 100 Sugar Maples

Over the years, we have looked for new ways beyond our signature tree planting to make an impact environmentally. One of the areas we thought we could help with was litter and waste, both in our local parks and school playgrounds.

Extra Ed staff have spent many hours cleaning up public parks that needed just a little extra help, as well as school playgrounds so that children could learn in a space free of litter and full of new plants that could grow with them.

We will continue to do this each and every year. If your school is interested in a team of Extra Ed staff and volunteers to come and help out, get in touch!

Paper
Initiative
How We
Do It
The
Results

Extra Ed has put a lot of energy and interest into repurposing, reusing, and preventing waste altogether. One of the areas we saw as a great opportunity to not only make a difference, but also to save our business money, was with paper. It was astonishing how many times we saw perfectly good paper with only small markings or folds go to the recycling bin without much thought. The sad reality is that some, if not most, of the paper that ends up in that recycling bin doesn’t even get recycled.

Extra Ed seized this environmentally-impactful low hanging fruit! We combed through school recycling bins (much to the delight of grateful teachers and principals) and took the paper that was still good enough to be used in a printer. But we soon realised there was much more to this. Virtually all the paper in the recycling bin could be repurposed very easily, for use not only in our office but also in our programs. In fact, the very practice of taking the paper out of the recycling, or turning junk mail into usable paper, became a popular add-on in our financial literacy programs as a wonderful example of financial resourcefulness.

Keep reading to see what we are doing (and what we have done) with all this paper!

Here’s a summary of how we’ve purposed virtually ALL the paper in any recycling bin:

Crisp, Barely Used Paper: This one is easy. Paper that is still crisp that has either never been used or barely used becomes our printer paper.

Crumpled Paper Used on One Side: This is that paper that might have been crumpled or folded a little, often has holes punched, and may have been torn out of a notebook. When this paper has been used on only one side, it is perfect for a variety of office needs. We’ve even used it in some of our art classes. Kids don’t mind!

Crumpled Paper Used on Most of Both Sides: What do you do with paper that is crumpled or frayed and has been completely used on both sides? Easy! You cut off the part that wasn’t used and then cut it again until it can be turned into small note paper. It’s our own brand of Post-Its!

Crumpled Paper Used Completely on Both Sides: Now for the real resourcefulness. What about that paper that was scribbled on both sides with markers? Easy! We use it in our art programs, from general crafting to origami. And the best part? Kids often end up painting or colouring the paper, so it helps with their creativity as well!

Cut Scraps: Cut scraps are perfect as, well, cut scraps, for our arts programs! Again, kids can be most creative with these often overlooked pieces, and they make fantastic add-ons to many different creations!

We made the mistake of not quantifying this over the years. We don’t know exactly how many pieces of paper we have used, or how much paper we didn’t need to buy for our arts programs. But we will still try to break down what this initiative has meant to us not only financially, but in making a difference environmentally and educationally.

Extra Ed has easily saved approximately $15, 000.00 since the inception of our paper initiative. That is a conservative estimate, and is likely much higher. But in the end, any money saved means that we had more to allocate to families who couldn’t afford our programs, or to tree planting, or simply to help the business grow.

This paper initiative accounted for all of our paper use in the first two years of running the business, which meant a lot for a new startup!

It is hard to know exactly how many trees we have saved, or recycling processes we have staved off, but it is easy to quantify how much pride many in our organization feel in knowing that we have done this on as big a scale as a small business like this can achieve. And that amount is A LOT!

The learning opportunities for students who have taken our financial literacy programs has been immense, as we tied this small but very popular add-on to our lessons on resourcefulness. We take pride in our ability to weave environmental resourcefulness into finances.

Watching kids get creative with the scraps of paper that were discarded, and in turn learning about resourcefulness, is priceless!

Extra Ed is still a small business, but we are growing. And as we grow, we are reaching more geographically diffuse schools and communities, while remaining dedicated to staying nimble. We put a great deal of effort in assigning instructors to programs that are closer to home to limit commutes.

This isn’t always easy to do, and longer commutes than we would like still happen. But our efforts continue, and we hope to keep ourselves small and local even as we grow.

We are doing what we do at Extra Ed…at school!

The 2022/23 school year will be the first in which we work directly with schools to help build infrastructure for them to repurpose and reuse not only paper, but all school supplies. Extra Ed also hopes this can spin into more and more school supplies that are often discarded early - so that we might distribute them to families and schools that can also save money, and resources, by repurposing and reusing them!

If you want your school to be a part of this, get in touch and let’s get started!

Organizations we partner with:
FOTR
One Tree Planted