Yukon Montessori School at the re:design Craft Fair

Craft fair season means lots of chances to buy great local, handmade products that are durable, support local artisans, and don’t come with lots of plastic packaging.

When it comes to local craft fairs, re:design is one of our favourites, as it showcases local artisans embracing creative reuse and making items out of repurposed goods.

Local artisans Leslie Leong (Leslie Leong Arts) and Darren Holcombe (Laberge Lumber Co.) have been organizing the event for four years, and this year was another success! This year, we teamed up with students from Yukon Montessori School to talk holiday waste reduction at the fair.

Montessori teacher Kelly Scott and her keen students set up two tables at the fair. They talked about single-use bag reduction and offered handmade gift tags to craft fair patrons. The gift tags were a big hit, and the students managed to raise close to $200 for their school!

   Reusable cloth bags and beeswax food wrap samples were given away to craft fair patrons

 

The fair also provided lots of opportunities to chat with people about holiday waste reduction. As Christmas can be a very wasteful time of year, this was a valuable opportunity to chat about ways we can reduce our footprint over the holidays. If you’re looking for tips on a waste-free Christmas, check out our Zero Waste Advent Calendar for 25 days of Zero Waste gift ideas. Be sure to also check out our 12 days of Alternative Gift Wrap page for creative ways to wrap presents without using hard to recycle wrapping paper.

 

The fair also presented a great opportunity to chat about a policy solution to the problem of single-use bags. Zero Waste Yukon is campaigning to reduce single-use bags in Yukon, in order to prevent litter and save precious resources. Learn more about our campaign by visiting our Think Outside The Bag page!

Lots of great input was collected from the public about a potential policy to reduce single-use bags. Many craft fair attendees supported a ban on single-use plastic bags.

 

We’re looking forward to working with the bright and passionate students at Yukon Montessori School again soon. Keep your eyes peeled and don’t forget to Bring Your Own Bag to all the upcoming craft fairs in Whitehorse!

 

2019 Indoor Community Garage Sale

Registration is now open for the 2019 Indoor Community Garage Sale!

Call our event partner North Star Mini Storage at 633-5402 to reserve your table!

Over 1000 people attended the 2018 Indoor Community Garage Sale at the CGC (Zero Waste Yukon).

 

This is the 6th annual garage sale hosted by Zero Waste Yukon. Last year’s sale saw over 1000 people attend!

One important change to note, this year’s sale will be held in a new location, the Yukon Convention Centre at the Coast High Country Inn.

This event is a great opportunity to raise funds for your organization or sports team, or to make some money doing some early spring cleaning! By participating as a vendor or patron, you’ll be doing your part to keep useful materials out of the landfill and in circulation!

You’ll be sure to find great items at awesome prices, so mark your calendars!

The sale takes place from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm at the Yukon Convention Centre!

A generous thank you to all our sponsors!

 

Stay tuned for more information or contact info@zerowasteyukon.ca!

 

Bea Johnson of “Zero Waste Home” visits Whitehorse

Whitehorse can stop wasting, says leader of global Zero Waste lifestyle movement

 

A woman who has eliminated trash from her California-based household since 2008 is coming to Whitehorse to encourage others to do the same.

Bea Johnson and her family adopted a Zero Waste lifestyle in 2008 and they now produce only a half litre of trash per year. Her blog and subsequent bestseller Zero Waste Home launched a global movement of waste-free living.

Zero Waste Home has been translated into over 20 languages and is rated number one in the amazon.com waste category.

 

“In giving this way of life a face, in showing that Zero Waste is possible, that it can be stylish, that it can save time and money (40% on our overall budget!), we changed people’s misconceptions. And our lifestyle turned into a movement. Thousands are doing this now,” says Johnson.

Dubbed “The Priestess of Waste-Free Living” by the New York Times, she has become a guru to a fan base to hundreds of thousands on Facebook and Instagram.

“The Zero Waste lifestyle might, at first sight, be about reducing as much household trash as possible, but what you ultimately discover is a simple life, a life based on experiences instead of things. It’s the opposite of what we would have expected it be; It’s improved our lives so much that we could not envision going back to the way we used to live,” the French native explains.

Bea Johnson has completed 14 international speaking tours and given talks in 50+ countries on 6 continents.

 

A will to create a more sustainable world for her children’s future is what got her started 10 years ago. Today she is driven to spread her message as far and wide as possible. Johnson speaks all over the globe, counting the United Nations, Google, Adobe, and the European Parliament as recent gigs. Bea is known to talk about her personal journey with humor and without preaching, inspiring self-reflection and change.

Zero Waste Yukon is excited to annouce that Bea will be speaking twice in Whitehorse on October 21st – once in French and once in English. She will be giving a presentation about practical ways to eliminate trash. Johnson’s presentations will be the closing event in Whitehorse for Waste Reduction Week in Canada, which takes place October 15-21 across the nation in support of waste reduction initiatives.

Zero Waste Yukon chose to bring Bea to the Yukon because she is extremely knowledgeable and relatable to so many people. She’s had such a large influence abroad and we’re excited for her to inspire change here locally too. Waste Reduction Week is the perfect time to bring everyone together to inspire action.

“I’m really excited to share my lifestyle in Whitehorse. There’s been a lot of interest in this way of life in Canada and I am honored by Zero Waste Yukon’s invitation” says Johnson.

Bea Johnson is speaking twice on October 21st at the MacBride Museum – 1124 Front St. Both presentations will be followed by a Q&A period.

12:30 pm – 1:30 pm – présentation en Français

5:00 pm – 6:00 pm – presentation in English

Both presentations are open to the public.

 

Contact info@zerowasteyukon.ca or call 867-667-7269 ext. 27 for more information.

 

 

Joella Hogan & The Yukon Soaps Company

The Yukon Soaps Company has been around for nearly 20 years. It is Indigenous owned and operated by Joella Hogan. Made with many locally grown ingredients, her soaps are a staple for Yukoners looking for a natural, handcrafted product.

Joella lives in Mayo, the heart of the Yukon, where “people have a deep respect for the land and what it can provide.” She says her inspiration comes from the land around her and the “wonderfully creative people” that she surrounds herself with.

“I was raised to be aware of human impacts on land, water, and the environment,” says Joella, who also has an academic background in Environmental Science and Planning. “I strive to live a simple, self-sufficient lifestyle and support other makers of things homemade.”

So what brought her to soap-making?

“I always had an interest in healing plants and traditional medicine, and I wanted something natural and creative to suit those interests,” says Joella. This has translated into creating “products that have a small footprint, use local ingredients as much as possible, and that continue to meet the needs of those who enjoy my products.”

She is also a beader, and has combined her passion for traditional First Nations beadwork with her soap-making. She recently launched a line of unscented soaps that showcase beadwork from Northern Tutchone women from Mayo. Different beadwork pieces are photographed and printed on dissolvable paper which is then set into each bar. Each soap tells the artists’ story and a bit about the piece that was photographed.

One of the soaps from Joella’s Indigenous Artisans line. (Joella Hogan)

Joella has been operating the Yukon Soaps Company for 7 years now. When she started, she wrapped her soaps in paper with a sticker. Wanting to cut down on types of packaging and quantity, she later moved to a simple sticker on plain bars of soap, drastically cutting down on packaging.

“I wanted people to see the soap,” she says.

Joella’s soaps use minimal packaging, reducing waste and letting customers “see the soap.” (Joella Hogan)

 

Joella also has customers who buy large amounts, so she decided to create a way to sell in bulk and further cut down on packaging. Recently she’s created a Zero Waste line of bulk soaps. Customers can either buy a bulk batch, fill their own containers with bulk soap, or purchase bulk soaps in pre-weighed reusable jars. She also sells some of her soaps in small, reusable cloth bags, because reuse is vital to cutting down on waste. “I have a really close relationship with our Free Store,” she says.

Running a small business isn’t without challenges, especially if you’re trying to minimize waste.

“Living in the North, there’s a lot of packaging involved with bringing ingredients in,” she says. To combat this, Joella tries to always buy in bulk, and sources local ingredients as much as possible. Plants such as juniper, fireweed, rose hips, and even fair trade coffee beans donated by Yukon’s Bean North Coffee Roasters are just some of the ingredients in her essential soap bars line.

Local juniper berries and fireweed provide the makings for “Yukon Gin & Tonic Soap.” (Joella Hogan)

 

Her advice for anyone looking to adopt more sustainable business practices and lower their footprint?

“There are so many ways that small businesses can work towards Zero Waste. It takes some time and work up front to look at options and decide what will work best, but in the end you’ll see you produce less waste, use less resources and save money.”

Yukon Soaps Company at the recent Etsy Market in Whitehorse. (Joella Hogan)

 

Look for The Yukon Soaps Company at local markets and various locations throughout Yukon. You can also order Joella’s products online at www.yukonsoaps.com.

 

 

Award-winning documentary Bag It comes to Whitehorse

Zero Waste Yukon is excited to announce a free film screening of the award-winning documentary Bag It!

 

The screening will take place at the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre, at 7:00 pm on October 17th.

Bag It follows Jeb Berrier, an average American guy who is admittedly not a “tree hugger,” who makes a pledge to stop using plastic bags. His girlfriend, Anne, joins him in the challenge to decrease their use of plastic at home. This small action gets Jeb thinking about plastic—not just about plastic bags, but other kinds of plastic. “What is plastic made of? Is it recyclable? Does it decompose when it ends up in the landfill? Does plastic have negative health effects?” Jeb wants to learn more, so he embarks on a global tour to unravel the complexities of our plastic world.

Our reliance on single-use disposable items is so deeply ingrained in our society that we rarely stop to think of what effects our behavior might have on our local environment. The film explores these issues and identifies how our daily reliance on plastic threatens not only waterways and marine life, but human health, too. In the Yukon, single-use plastics take up large amounts of landfill space, are hard to recycle, and escape collection to litter our wild spaces and affect wildlife.

Building off a successful Plastic Free July, the screening at Beringia Centre is part of Zero Waste Yukon’s campaign to curb the use of single-use plastics in the territory. Many North American cities including Washington, DC and San Francisco, as well as countries like Ireland, Italy and China have implemented fees or bans on single-use disposable bags, with positive results.

“Think about it—why would you make something that you’re going to use for a few minutes out of a material that’s basically going to last forever, and you’re just going to throw it away? What’s up with that?”
—Jeb Berrier

 

Event Details:

Screening Date: October 17, 2018

Screening Time: 7:00 PM

Screening Location: Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre

Admission: FREE

 

Contact info@zerowasteyukon.ca or call 667-7269 ext 27 for more info.

 

 

Plastic Free July – complete!

July is over and with it the Plastic Free July challenge! First off, big congratulations to everyone who participated. Whether you refused one straw or avoided all single-use plastics entirely, give yourself a pat on the back! We hope this challenge has made visible all the ways that disposability has infiltrated our society. From plastic in the produce section to the little stopper in your disposable coffee cups, single-use items are all around us.

We are excited to announce that Roslyn Woodcock is the winner of the plastic free prize pack from Riverside Grocery.

Roslyn was one of the first people to sign up, and even challenged the rest of the Whitehorse City Council to participate. Congrats Roslyn!
A special mention goes to Steve Roddick who shared his dedication to the challenge online and inspired many people to ditch single use plastics beyond July.

It’s no small feat to avoid single-use plastics. They are ubiquitous, and so ingrained in our daily lives that we hardly stop to think about it. Writes Leyla Acaroglu in her essay Design for Disposability:

“Within 50 years we have moved from everyday reusable products to single-use disposable items that are a blight on our wallets and the environment. Countries spend billions of dollars every year to build and manage landfills that just compress and bury this stuff. While people complain about dirty cities and giant ocean plastic waste islands, producers continue to deflect all responsibility for the end of life management of their products, and designers are complacent in the perpetuation of stuff designed for disposability.”

This last sentence is key. Often the consumer takes much of the blame for the plastic pollution crisis we have found ourselves in. However, product producers continue to design new and diverse disposable packaging to drive profits and increase convenience. In British Columbia, there are over 15 extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs in place. These programs manage many consumer products such as packaging, printed paper, electronics, appliances, tires, used oil, and more. Under an EPR system, producers are responsible for funding the end-of-life management of their products. This creates incentive to design products that can be recycled, and allows for better collection and recycling of these products.

Some of our favourite Plastic Free July experiences!

 

We set up shop at Wykes’ Your Independent Grocer to remind people to bring their reusable bags and hand out Zero Waste Yukon bags to those that forgot. Really impressed how many shoppers were bringing their own bags already!

Handing out bags at the Independent.

 

Earlier this month we shared an interesting article about plastic bag use in different countries. Did you know that Danes use on average about 4 single-use plastic bags each year? This is in stark contrast to the US, where the average person uses a bag per day. We asked our followers to show us their favourite reusable shopping bags, and we had some great responses!

     

Our favourite reusable bags people shared

 

We also hosted a workshop on creating beesewax wraps, a reusable alternative to plastic wrap, at the Fireweed Community Market. Everyone who stopped by took home their own beeswax wrap!

We learned this month that the City of Whitehorse water bottle refill stations have filled the equivalent of over 270,000 single use bottles since 2010! Here’s to continued efforts by City staff and administration to eliminate single-use.

 

Stay tuned for more from Zero Waste Yukon as we work to eliminate disposability and single-use plastics in Yukon!

 

 

 

 

Halfway There! Celebrate your Plastic Free July!

Packing reusable cutlery is an awesome way to avoid those pesky single-use items!

 

It’s been two weeks since Plastic Free July kicked off and we’re seeing more and more local individuals and businesses highlighting their efforts to go without single-use plastics! We’re excited to celebrate all the little ways you’ve been choosing to go plastic-free this July!

Have you been participating? Share your experience with us for a chance to win an awesome prize pack full of plastic-free goodies courtesy of Riverside Grocery! Tag us in a photo on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or send us an e-mail!

Here are some highlights from the first two weeks of Yukon’s Plastic Free July!

 

To kick the month off we visited the Fireweed Community Market to host a Plastic Free July workshop! We spent the afternoon making reusable beeswax food wraps (instructions here) from scratch and signing people up for the Plastic Free July Challenge! Visitors seemed very excited about the prospect of ditching plastic cling wrap for something reusable and compostable!

Klondike Kettle Corn was trying out paper bags in honour of Plastic Free July, and even gave us a sample. We think the popcorn tastes better in a paper bag…

 

We took the Zero Waste Yukon truck to the Atlin Arts and Music Festival and helped to divert a truckload of recyclables and compost! Kudos to all the vendors who worked to avoid single-use plastics this year! We look forward to continuing to divert materials at next year’s festival!

Many Atlin food vendors were helping reduce single-use plastic by using compostable food containers and cutlery.

 

Whitehorse City Councillor Rosyln Woodcock has been taking the challenge and documenting it every step of the way! Whether it’s hunting for plastic-free tortillas or bringing her own containers when she eats out, she’s doing her best to stomp out single-use this month!

Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis and City Councillor Rosyln Woodcock filled their reusable containers at the theatre for a plastic-free movie experience!

 

Riverside Grocery has been a great leader in showcasing alternatives to single-use plastics in Whitehorse. They carry all sorts of reusable alternatives to single-use products, and recently installed bulk bins! They’ve now announced you can purchase their fantastic ice creams in bulk as well! Celebrate your achievements by bringing your own container down and loading up whatever weight of ice cream you desire (I recommend the swirl)!

Bring your own container to Riverside Grocery and get your pay-by-weight ice cream!

 

The Dirty Northern Public House recently said #StopSuckingWhitehorse and got rid of single-use plastic straws in favour of paper alternatives! Other businesses offering compostable straws include the Gravy Train food truck and Bean North Coffee Roasting Co.! Reusable metal straws are available at Baked Cafe and Riverside Grocery!

 

Bean North Coffee Roasting Co. has these funky paper straws on offer.

 

Know of any individuals or businesses who are taking steps away from single-use disposable products? Let us know so we can celebrate their efforts!

If you’re taking the Plastic Free July challenge and finding it harder than you thought, don’t worry! It’s tough, but your efforts are meaningful! With each choice we make we’re dictating the kind of world we want to see. Plus when July is over, you’ll have figured out plenty of ways to avoid single-use!

Visit our Plastic Free July page for info on signing up for the challenge! We’ve also collected some plastics resources that highlight all the issues associated with disposable single-use items!

Stay tuned for more updates and tips on how you can have a Plastic Free July!

 

 

 

Consumption and Disposability: Saying No to Single-Use Plastics

“Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfactions, our ego satisfactions, in consumption. The measure of social status, of social acceptance, of prestige, is now to be found in our consumptive patterns.”  – Victor Lewbow, Economist, 1955.

Every bit of plastic ever made still exists. Let that sink in. Since the 1950s we’ve created over 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic, and every bit that hasn’t been recycled or incinerated is still around today.

Plastic, for all its environmental benefits, has an inherent flaw. We use it primarily for products that are disposable, but it is anything but. The result? Our landfills and oceans are overflowing with plastic, much of it in the form of single-use items. Plastic water bottles, takeout containers, straws, plastic cutlery, coffee cup lids, and food packaging are everywhere, and only now are we starting to realize the consequences of our disposable society.

In fact, disposability and consumption are so ubiquitous, that we see them as normal. In her essay Design for Disposability, Leyla Acaroglu tells the history of how we got to where we are.

“Waste and disposability, are very much a product of intent to design a system that perpetuates consumption,” she writes. Consumption of disposable goods increases a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), so it is seen as a sign of a healthy economy.

Now we’re at a point where the effects of plastic consumption and disposability are being seen in polluted oceans, overflowing landfills and rising emissions from the skyrocketing use of fossil fuels.

So what’s to be done about our single-use conundrum? How do we escape the cycle of consumption and disposability so the world we leave behind is livable? Recycling, while important, isn’t the answer. Our ability to recycle products is vastly outpaced by the production and disposal of new and diverse plastic packaging. A new circular economy is on the horizon, but what can we do right now to support this important shift?

We can start by saying “no.” No to disposability and yes to intelligent design. No to consumption and yes to reduction. No to single-use and yes to reuse.

Enter Plastic Free July. Started in 2013 to raise awareness about the harmful effects of single-use plastic pollution, it’s grown into a worldwide campaign with millions of participants signing up to say NO to single-use plastics.

Making a choice to refuse single-use plastic items doesn’t have to be daunting. To start, pick one item, try to avoid just that, and go from there. To help you out, here are 5 items you can stop using today to drastically cut down on your plastic consumption.

 

1. Plastic Water Bottles

It makes little sense to be bottling tap water from across the continent and shipping it here when we have clean, drinkable water flowing in our taps. Using a reusable water bottle will save you a ton of money and will help you cut out wasteful single-use water bottles. Check out the Story of Bottled Water!

 

2. Straws

We got along just fine before the invention of straws, and for many years the paper straw did the trick. Simply say “no straw please” when ordering a drink, or invest in a reusable glass or metal one if you use them often. Straws are small and hard to recycle, which is why they so often end up as litter. Paper straws are making a comeback, and you can pressure your local businesses into making the switch! Kudos to the Dirty Northern in Whitehorse for ditching plastic straws!

Grab your reusable straws at Riverside Grocery or Baked Cafe in Whitehorse!

 

3. Plastic Shopping Bags

By now many of us have a collection of reusable grocery bags, the only trick is to remember to bring them! Keep a few in your car, or buy one that you can put in your purse or backpack. Skip the plastic produce bags, you’ll be washing the produce at home anyways. Grab a few reusable produce bags for the few instances where you need one!

 

4. Coffee cups and lids

Unfortunately paper coffee cups aren’t recyclable in Yukon yet. Plastic lids can be recycled but it’s better to simply avoid these altogether. If you don’t have a reusable mug yet, invest in one! Your coffee will stay hotter and you’ll get a discount at most places! For those of us who are cup-a-day (or more) drinkers, bringing a reusable mug will cut down on an enormous amount of waste!

 

5. Take-out packaging and cutlery

This one is tricky. Many places still use dreadful styrofoam to package food. Best thing you can do is eat in, or try bringing your own containers when getting take-out! It’s not as weird as you might think, and will go a long way to cutting down on plastic waste. Keeping a metal fork and spoon (or spork) in your bag is also a great way to avoid hard to recycle plastic cutlery. Finally, if you must get take-out, make sure the containers your favourite restaurant uses are recyclable or compostable and dispose of them properly!

It’s easy as that! If you can give up even one of these 5 things you’re well on your way to giving up single-use plastics altogether. Don’t be discouraged if you end up using some single-use items along the way, instead, celebrate! Be proud of the fact that you’re helping to create a cleaner, better world. Never forget that any action, no matter how small, counts for something!

Visit our Plastic Free July page or our social media pages for tips and guidance all month!