C’était fantastique d’être interviewé pour cette édition du journal L’Aurore Boreale!
Zero Waste Yukon and Raven Recycling’s: Rec (ycle) Your Wreck Photo Contest this summer was a huge success. People from across the Territory shared their photos of abandoned vehicles in the Yukon Landscape. This contest aimed to highlight the growing issue of abandoned vehicles in the Yukon.
What we need is a plan to ensure these vehicles make it to scrap yards or recyclers. That way they can contribute to the repair of vehicles on the road, or to recycling where their valuable metals are sustainably reused. A simple solution would be a fee on new car sales to cover the cost of recycling when the car no longer has any other value. A $400 charge on a $40,000 new car is a 1 per cent charge at purchase and it would make sure that cars would stop getting pushed into valleys, rivers and forests. This is exactly the model for electronic waste, which has been successful at diverting toxic electrical components (such as mercury and lead) away from our landfills.
People across the Yukon are frustrated with the piles of old cars littering the landscape. It’s time to change this predictable and solvable environmental issue. Raven Recycling and Zero Waste Yukon are pushing for policies that ensure end-of-life vehicles are managed in a way that ensures they don’t enter our landscape and that their hazardous components are disposed of properly.
Recycling your vehicle ensures hazardous materials don’t contaminate our landscapes, leaking into our precious water and soil. To recycle your end of life vehicle at Raven Recycling call 667-7269
Thank you to our prize sponsors: Air North, Yukon Brewing, Winterlong Brewing, The Yukon Transportation Museum, and the Yukon Wildlife Preserve.
Have you waited for a day to kick back and celebrate all the recycling you have done? Or to bask in the glory that is your compost heap? Well then, I have great news for you: Waste Reduction Week is happening October 18 to 24! So spray champagne wildly about! You earned it. Just remember to recycle the bottle. The event aims to empower Canadians, to increase awareness, but also to encourage the adoption of more environmentally conscious choices in our lives. By making small changes, we can send a powerful signal to government and businesses that the days of disposability are over.
Zero Waste Yukon and Raven Recycling celebrate this event each year, not only to raise awareness, but also to celebrate how our communities have succeeded. It is remarkable that across our territory, places considered remote by some, we have developed recycling and compost systems of which communities across Canada are jealous. It’s even more remarkable that we have achieved this without multinational waste companies, or through large-scale external investment, but rather by the efforts of members of our community. We’ve gone from non-profit, penny-a-bottle recycling, to a reduction in greenhouse gasses equivalent to 89,000 tonnes in the last 10 years through recycling; from composting worms hidden away in basement containers to a city wide green bin system.
This year, Raven and Zero Waste Yukon are not celebrating alone and have collaborated with the City of Whitehorse, Love2Thrift Whitehorse Community Thrift Store and other community organizations to host a series of events that highlight the successes of our community. This includes our city compost program, which continues to grow with the development of new facilities at the landfill. We’re also celebrating the work of the Love2Thrift Store, not only because of their work to reduce waste, but also to provide equitable access to clothing. In partnership with Computers for Schools Yukon, we will be offering a free e-waste pick-up service as a reminder that in Yukon we have free e-waste recycling at Raven. We will also use social media to feature individuals and businesses throughout the week that have found new solutions and new ideas to reduce their own waste.
The narrative about environmental issues is often focused only on the negatives. Many of us can lose our motivation or capability to change what feels like overwhelming challenges. It is this sense of doom that takes away our sense of control and limits our potential to dream of a better future. Although it’s true that we have lots of work yet to do, we can look back at individuals in our community who were the first to say “we can do this better” and changed their communities forever. Furthermore, when we know what we have achieved and can dream of something better, then we can stand up to those who say it’s too hard. It is that strength of community that can demand better policy from our politicians or tell businesses that it’s time for them to step up for the community.
To follow Waste Reduction Week in Yukon, follow any of Zero Waste Yukon’s social media pages, or for more information on the event, visit: wrwcanada.com.
This article was published in WhatsUpYukon: https://whatsupyukon.com/yukon-lifestyle/health-wellness/trash-talk-with-zero-waste-yukon/
Ahh, the Yukon! A space of boundless nature and mighty, human-built monuments – like my abandoned 1985 Ford Tempo. Rusting and rotting in the woods, our old family car always brings a smile to my neighbour’s face. It’s hardly even hazardous anymore, having dropped its antifreeze in 1999. Better yet, the oil weeped away ages ago. This fine piece of engineering is practically wildlife habitat, given how much the mice like it. And whenever tourists come down this road they will say, “hey, check out that 1985 Ford Tempo! Now I have seen it all!”
And really, leaving my Tempo where it rots is the most affordable option. Otherwise, it would really cost me. Between the towing and the fees at either a scrapyard or Raven Recycling, I’ll end up paying out $300. If we were down south, I would be paid for my vehicle and would definitely get this done, but here in the Yukon, why bother?
Sarcasm aside, abandoned cars are an unfortunate part of Yukon’s landscape, one that’s impossible to overlook. Since the construction of the Alaska Highway, cars have come up to the Yukon to die, unceremoniously pushed into valleys, creeks and forests. Now some of those old trucks are a source of antique reverence to the past, but today more and more are family cars like my Ford Tempo. These vehicles risk our environment as their hazardous parts degrade and enter our soil and water. With Yukon’s growing population, an estimated 10,000 vehicles will come to the end of their life in the next 10 years. We can predict that a large portion of them will be left to rot away in our “pristine” environment.
What we need is a plan to ensure these vehicles make it to scrap yards. That way they can contribute to the repair of vehicles on the road, or to recycling where their valuable metals are sustainably reused. A simple solution would be a fee on new car sales to cover the cost of recycling when the car no longer has any other value. A $400 charge on a $40,000 new car is a 0.01per cent charge at purchase and it would make sure that cars would stop getting pushed into valleys, rivers and forests. This is exactly the model for electronic waste, which has been successful at diverting toxic electrical components (such as mercury and lead) away from our landfills.
People across the Yukon are frustrated with the piles of old cars littering the landscape. It’s time to change this predictable and solvable environmental issue. Raven Recycling and Zero Waste Yukon are pushing for policies that ensure end-of-life vehicles are managed in a way that ensures they don’t enter our landscape and that their hazardous components are disposed of properly. Raven Recycling just wrapped up a photo contest featuring abandoned vehicles on public land to raise awareness about this issue, called Rec(ycle) Your Wreck. To celebrate the conclusion of the contest, Raven will be hosting a car recycling event where a number of abandoned vehicles from our community will be recycled for free. This article can also be found in WhatsUpYukon (https://whatsupyukon.com/yukon/yukon-business/recycling-your-wreck/).
Summer has finally arrived in the Yukon, along with an oppressive heat wave and the ever-looming spectre of disastrous climate change. You and I might both be wondering anxiously about whether or not we are doing our part to live sustainably. This month is “Plastic-Free July,” a worldwide effort to reduce each of our consumption of single-use plastic products for one month. There is no doubt that by being mindful of the plastic products we consume, we can make small changes to our lives that reduce our environmental footprints. But is it fair to put the responsibility on individuals to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics?
Single-use plastic products are truly unsustainable as we use fossil fuels mined from the earth to create packages, cups and lids that will only be used for seconds, but will take hundreds of years to break down. These issues are even larger for the plastics that make it into waterways where they can kill fish, birds and mammals. Then there are microplastics, airborne plastics and plastic fibres. It feels like the list could go on forever. Add to this a never-ending litany of environmental challenges (habitat loss, climate change, increasingly extreme weather and so on) and it becomes a consistent, depressing burden where each choice we make in our everyday lives becomes a confounding question period about what is right.
Unfortunately, this emphasis on individual action has been a tactic used by packaging and fossil fuel lobbying organizations since the 1950s. The most famous example of this approach was through Keep America Beautiful: an organization composed of several American bottling companies, including Coca-Cola and Dixie Cup. Although the stated goal of Keep America Beautiful was to educate the public on growing litter concerns along the U.S. interstate, the reality was more sinister. The group was created in response to Vermont’s 1953 attempt to pass bottle deposit legislation and to ban the sale of beer in non-refillable bottles. Famously, in 1971, the group released an iconic ad, where a man dressed in traditional Indigenous clothing weeps while overlooking an industrial landscape. Litter is thrown at his feet. It is rather telling that the actor, like the ad itself, was also not what he seemed (he was not Indigenous, but Italian-American). Despite the morally questionable motive, the ad was highly successful in guilting individuals into action, thus deflecting the message away from growing demands for industry packaging regulations.
Emphasizing individual changes is attractive to industry groups because it removes the responsibility to invest in improving the company’s products so that they are no longer hazardous to the environment, or expensive for communities to manage. This leaves the burden of action on us, the consumers. But the potential options for individual action to reduce our single use plastic consumption are limited. And while the good news is that there are businesses working to provide packaging-free options, outside of Whitehorse these are less frequently available. Furthermore, many of the ways to reduce our plastic consumption have additional costs, which contribute to unequal opportunities to individually reduce plastic use.
So, with that in mind, why should I participate in Plastic-Free July?
Perhaps it’s less about emphasizing what can “I” do and more about what could “we” do. By understanding where we can exert our individual buying power, and by being aware of where the options simply don’t exist, we can begin to understand where collective action is needed. This collective action includes demanding restrictions on packaging types, demanding that industry pay for its share of waste in our communities, and identifying opportunities in our own businesses to make changes that would benefit our community.
There is no denying that our individual actions shape the policies of political parties and the strategies of businesses, so where we can, our actions can make a real difference. However, we need to acknowledge where we simply do not have the option to make change alone and believe that as a community we should expect better from our businesses.
This blog was also published WhatsUpYukon, July 2021: https://whatsupyukon.com/yukon-lifestyle/plastic-free-july-has-started/
Check out our April contribution to WhatsUpYukon! This article is a fun review of the Rendezvous Fashion Show through the lens of textile waste.
Located in the Horwoods Mall the Yukon Refillery is an exciting new low-waste business in Whitehorse. They offer a range of high quality environmentally conscious personal care, household cleaning, and laundry products for sale by weight using your own re-used containers.
We sat down with Michelle who opened the business with her husband (Baird) this year. The business idea started early in 2020 and plans were made for a permanent location opening in March of 2020. That is until COVID upended plans for many small businesses including The Refillery. They then shifted to an alternative plan where they would get the business started at the Fireweed Market over the summer. Although delayed, an official storefront was opened in October at the Horwoods Mall.
In the brightly lit modern space, you can find laundry soap, dish detergent, shampoo, conditioner, hand soap, surface cleaners, toothpaste, deodorant, and other products. Simply bring in re-usable containers and they can be filled with whatever you are looking for. If you forget a container they stock a “Container Library” of washed and re-used glass containers. They are building their stock with an ethos of as local as possible and as sustainable as possible. Currently they carry North American brands including Pure Line, Sensibility, Sapadilla, Bottle None, and Oneka. They also hope to hear from customers about what products they would love to see to help build the inventory.
So far, The Refillery has limited opening hours on Friday and Saturday but the community enthusiasm remains high. When we were there customers were consistently coming and going, reflecting a demand for low-waste shipping options.
In the last few years, a wave of low-waste bulk retailers using this model has spread across the continent. It is hard to deny the advantages of this type of shopping. For one you are decreasing your waste by re-using packaging. Secondly, you get to choose the volume you would like to purchase. That means you are not restricted by the manufacturer to buy a large volume of something you know you need or conversely a small amount of a product to try it without spending much money.
Opening this business and getting a retail location in the midst of COVID is a huge achievement for a family run business. At this time, the goal of the business is to grow their opening hours and establish an inventory of items sought in the community. In the future, they would like to expand beyond home and personal care items towards food products.
We are excited that amidst the challenges of 2020, an exciting low-waste business is succeeding in our community. The Yukon Refillery is without a doubt a Zero Hero business!
Follow The Yukon Refillery on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/yukonrefillery) and instagram @yukonrefillery.
|We are happy to announce our new program coordinator, Scott Dudiak. Scott started in October and has been getting caught up to speed on Zero Waste Yukon’s work. Scott is joining us from Saskatchewan where he was previously responsible for waste management activities at remote mine remediation projects. Scott was the former President of the grassroots zero waste organization Plastic Smart Saskatoon.
Our outgoing coordinator, Ira Webb, has taken on a management position at Raven Recycling but continues to be directly engaged in ZWY. We are pleased with this opportunity to retain Ira’s experience while growing our team.
We thank Ira for his successful leadership in the last three and a half years. During his leadership the Yukon Government and City of Whitehorse have made major strides in waste reduction. Ira’s leadership has been a huge success in building public awareness of ZWY and the visibility of the organization has made it the envy of organizations across Canada.
If you enjoy local coffee, then you probably know Firebean Coffee Roasters. The small-batch Yukon roaster is bringing old school techniques to the forefront of the northern coffee roasting scene.
Sole proprietor Michael Russo calls his small business a case of “accidental entrepreneurship”. What started out as a hobby has grown organically into a successful small business. Russo began fire-roasting coffee using a hand spinner, and soon recognized an opportunity to do more. It was on a visit to a museum in Parry Sound that he found the stationary bike that would take his hobby to the next level.
He brought the bike home and connected it to a repurposed pizza oven. He began churning out “pedal-powered” coffee and the business has been growing ever since. In the early days he and his partner Sarah were producing 10 lbs a week, now they’re producing 100.
Firebean’s bicycle roasting set-up next to some ready-to-roast beans. (Photo: Michael Russo)
“We value the old school art and the craft”, says Firebean’s website – “working with simple technologies towards a valuable end is fulfilling”.
In this day and age, where technology is becoming increasingly complex and resources must be extracted faster and faster to keep pace, this is just the type of system we need more of. Simple, low-impact, local enterprises are essential to build resilient, sustainable communities.
“The bike always works”, says Michael.
Whether it’s minus 30 or plus 30, there’s no worrying about power outages or mechanical issues that come with electric or gas roasting systems. This also means less waste as Russo doesn’t have to purchase gas or rely on electricity. Their system is simple and reliable. As long as he can pedal, he can roast, and because the set-up is wood-fired, the energy supply is 100% renewable.
Working with fire instead of gas or electricity requires more attention to keep the right temperature, but the energy source is 100% renewable. (Photo: Michael Russo)
Russo and family have been moving around a fair amount, so the bike’s portability is also an asset. He says that his relationship with the bike has become somewhat love-hate. He still enjoys the process, and it keeps him healthy. The bike-powered aspect of his business is also powerful marketing. On the flip side he says, “biking (for fun) has lost some of its appeal”.
“Lean and mean”
Working at such a small scale, the business is, in Michael’s words, “lean and mean”. This means they are able to do things that other businesses might not be able to, including testing out different ways of reducing waste in the business.
Producing small batches of coffee means they turn over their inventory faster than larger scale roasters. This has allowed Firebean to switch to using a lower barrier compostable coffee bag for some of their more frequently purchased bags and high frequency shop deliveries. These bags are actually cheaper than a conventional coffee bag, meaning the savings are financial as well as environmental. They also hand stamp their bags, saving costs and materials.
“Millennials read the packaging”, Russo says. He recognizes that customers are looking more and more at the environmental footprint of their products and packaging. “Years ago we probably wouldn’t be thinking as much about our environmental footprint, but I think everyone is recognizing that there’s responsibility involved in running a business”.
Firebean is using a compostable bag for some of its roasts, cutting down on materials and costs. (Photo: Michael Russo)
One way they’re cutting down waste is by selling coffee in bulk, and supplying it in reusable pails as well. This has presented challenges, as the pails are hard to keep track of, but currently they still bring their bulk beans to Riverside Grocery this way. Once empty they’re returned, washed and ready to transport another batch.
“We’re planning to bring bulk to the Fireweed Market this year”, Russo tells me. “I think it lines up with some of the values the market is trying to promote, and we really believe in putting stuff out there just to see what happens”.
Last Christmas, they found some antique canning jars at the Wish Factory in Whitehorse and put them to good use, selling coffee and gift cards in a container that could be reused again and again.
Russo dropping off fresh bulk at Riverside Grocery in Whitehorse. (Photo: Michael Russo)
Firebean really doesn’t produce much waste during production. Apart from a small bit of chaff left over from the roasting (this just ends up on the ground to decompose) and ash from the oven, it’s almost a Zero Waste affair.
Firebean is also helping grow a more local circular economy through collaborations with other Yukon businesses:
They’ve partnered with Bean North Coffee Roasters to do a roasting day, and teamed up with Winterlong Brewing to create a Rye Coffee Porter and “Divine,” a special edition barrel aged coffee and beer. They partnered with Deep Dark Wood Brewing Company on a Golden Sour beer. Their coffee has also been used in Yukon-made soaps, Yukon chocolate and Yukon salts from Axe and Crocus in Dawson City.
These partnerships are vital to building strong relationships with other local businesses and supporting a sustainable local economy.
Russo’s advice to other businesses?
“I’m reticent to preach to others”, he says. “What works for us might not necessarily work for others. I would say to test stuff out, see how it works. One of the benefits of being small is that we can fiddle around until things work”.
He encourages others to try any small step.
“No business is too big or too small, and it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Small ideas are worth testing and no effort is too little to try if it means you’re moving closer to Zero Waste”.
This fiddling around seems to be paying off, and here’s hoping more exciting things are to come from Firebean Coffee Roasters.
Registration is fully booked for the 2020 Indoor Community Garage Sale and Repair Café!!
When: February 8th, 2020
Where: Canada Games Centre Flexi-Hall
Time: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
The 7th annual Indoor Community Garage Sale is a much anticipated community event, promoting reuse and the sharing economy in Yukon!
Not only is this a great opportunity to give your items a second life, it’s the perfect venue to raise funds for your organization or sports team, or to make some money doing some early spring cleaning!
Whether you participate as a vendor or a patron, you’ll be doing your part to keep useful materials out of the landfill and in circulation.
All tables are fully booked for this weekend’s sale, thank you for your interest!
Hundreds of attendees visit the Indoor Community Garage Sale each year to support reuse in our community.
Electronics Repair Café
We’re very excited to once again have Yukonstruct join us in hosting their Repair Café during the event. Repair Café Whitehorse has been helping fix broken stuff with monthly drop-in events at Yukonstruct since 2014. Broken toaster, vacuum cleaner or other small home appliance? Bring it in and see if it is fixable using soldering irons, multimeters and other tools. This easy introduction to electronics and small home appliance repair is a useful DIY learning experience that you can literally take home.
A happy Repair Café participant.
Computers for Schools Yukon will also be in attendance at this year’s Repair Café. If you’re having computer issues, bring in your laptop and consult the experts on how you might get your computer working better!
Textiles Repair Café
In addition to electronics repair, we will also have volunteers on hand to help you with basic clothing repairs!
We’ve lined up a number of expert volunteers who are keen to share their mending and sewing knowledge! Are you interested in repairing your own clothes? Want to give your favourite socks a new lease on life? Are you curious to learn more about sewing or stitching? If so, this Repair Café is for you!
Bring an item (or more) in need of repair and a desire to learn, and our experts will work with you to try and fix it up good as new! We’ll have a few sewing machines on hand for the bigger jobs, and the supplies you might need to make a simple repair to your ripped garments! This is a wonderful opportunity to improve or gain valuable skills that will help you lower the impact of your clothing and keep things wearable for years to come!
For more information on the Indoor Community Garage Sale, contact:
Program Coordinator, Zero Waste Yukon
(867)-667-7269 ext. 27