Zero Waste On The Rise
Waste disposal in landfills and incinerators has serious environmental and health impacts related to soil, air and water contamination; emission of greenhouse gases; and spread of infectious and respiratory diseases. The GreenCare Community understands that taking a Zero Waste philosophy by attempting to emulate nature, where waste and pollution essentially don’t exist, is important for the health of our planet and the health of our communities.
What is GreenCare Doing?
Health care facilities are in a unique position when it comes to recycling. GreenCare has created the Recycling Renewal program to recycle mixed paper and mixed containers at Lower Mainland acute and residential care sites. Check out this page for more information.
Achieving Zero Waste is not only about reducing consumption, but extends to the design of products and industrial processes which allow for components to be dismantled, repaired, reused and recycled as well.
Over the past few years, this notion has spread beyond individual households and has taken to the mainstream through a rise in Zero Waste stores and businesses. By changing the system in which we purchase the goods and services we need, we are working to produce less waste from the start.
In an effort to reduce waste in all aspects of our lifestyle, we looked at some of the exciting projects happening in the Lower Mainland.
Zero Waste Market
One of the most publicized ventures is the Zero Waste Market, opening in Vancouver this fall. The market’s mission is to empower customers to make positive food choices and reduce their impact on the environment by saying no to unnecessary packaging. At Zero Waste Market, you bring your own containers and reusable bags from home, and refill them with as much or as little as you need. The store also offers local, organic and ethically sourced food choices. This is an exciting alternative to waste heavy grocery stores which produce a high amount packaging waste. Follow them on Facebook and check out their pop-up market at the Patagonia store on May 28th.
Image Source: Zero Waste Market Blog
Zero Waste Diner
If you are a food fanatic, get ready to love Lupii Café, a zero-waste café in South Vancouver. Lupii cafe is a community focused, zero-waste cafe, dedicated to environmental and social sustainability while providing delicious food and beverages. Not only do they provide reusable take-out containers and cloth napkins, but their store has been built using only upcycled and reusable materials. They are dedicated to sourcing local produce that is perfectly healthy and delicious but may end up in the landfill due to industry requirements regarding size/shape or arbitrary sell-by dates. Not only that, they often host local events and work to build a sense of community with the residents of Champlain Heights. Check out their website and try a delicious zero waste meal.
Image Source: Vancouver Courier
The Soap Dispensary
The Soap Dispensary is a refill shop specializing in premium soaps, household cleaners, personal care products, DIY ingredients and fine edibles. Customers can bring their reusable containers for refills with their products. They also support sustainable supply chains with over 50% of their suppliers being locally owned and 75% of their soaps being locally made. Check out their website.
Image Source: The Soap Dispensary Website
Zero Waste Council
The National Zero Waste Council is an initiative attempting to bring together governments, businesses and non-government organizations to advance waste prevention in Canada. Founded by Metro Vancouver in collaboration with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in 2013, the Council has united, among others, five of Canada’s largest metropolitan regions – Metro Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax and Edmonton – with key business and government leaders, academia and non-profit organizations in a call for national action and systems change to address waste generation. They are hoping to advance Zero Waste initiatives through policy development and National communications. Learn more here.
Clean Bin Project Blog
The Clean Bin Project is a challenge undertaken by Vancouver residents Jen, Grant and Rhiannon. After a cycling trip down the Pacific Coast, they thought “we have too much stuff.” For one year they avoided buying material goods and attempted to live without producing garbage. Throughout it all they kept a record of their adventure and made an award winning documentary which has been screened across Canada. At the end of the year, they didn’t stop and continued to document their zero waste lives on their blog.
How you can participate
Don’t know where to start? Try one of these Zero Waste ventures and take small steps.
- Bring your own cloth bags to grocery stores
- Stock your fruit and veggies in one to avoid using plastic bags
- Shop at bulk stores which let you choose how much you need and reduce waste from products going bad
- Shop at farmers markets or local markets – you can choose fresh ingredients which don’t come in packaging materials
- Use reusable mugs and water bottles – some of the biggest contributors to waste are paper cups
- Bring reusable containers to fill up at your favourite take out restaurant. Many places will be happy to fill them for you rather than using Styrofoam or plastic containers
- Make your celebrations zero waste – fill up on your beer and wine from wholesalers like one of the many breweries, where you can fill up cheaply and with reusable containers
Share your thoughts
Think you could go waste free for a year? Have any tips or tricks on how you reduce your waste? Know of any businesses doing great things? Let us know below.