Are you Zero Waste Yukon’s next artist in residence?

This past summer, Zero Waste Yukon and Raven Recycling partnered to pilot an artist residency program in Raven Recycling’s depot. The program received great positive feedback, so we are accepting applications for the year 2023!

What we’re looking for:

Yukon artists who will use materials recycled at Raven to create art works that engage customers and staff in conversations about and in activities that demonstrate:
• bold ideas for systemic change,
• effective pathways to zero waste and circular economies,
• alternatives to our take-make-waste mentality,
• a call to action in the interest of caring for our planet, ecosystems and communities.

Find the full list of requirements in our application.

A maximum of 5 Yukon artists will be accepted into the program for the year 2023.

Deadline to submit: Friday, January 16, 2023

How to submit: Download and fill out our application form. Submit completed applications either by email to communications@ravenrecycling.org or in person to 100 Galena Rd., Whitehorse, Yukon.

Access our application here.

This program is made possible with the support of City of Whitehorse’s Environmental Grant.City of Whitehorse logo

Rec(ycle) Your Wreck Gallery

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⁣

1st place: What’s Our Plan? Andrew Connors

Thank you to our prize sponsors: Air North, Yukon Brewing, Winterlong Brewing, The Yukon Transportation Museum, and the Yukon Wildlife Preserve.

Waste Reduction Week 2021

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/

Abandoned Vehicles a Yukon Tradition!

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/).

What Can I Do About Plastic Waste?

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/

Looking Forward in 2021

2020 was a challenging year for our whole community, but it has also been a year of progress towards a zero waste future. In a time of stress and pain it has been so striking to hear the refrain “Build Back Better” from communities around the world. With that in mind we would like to thank everyone for your continued support and we wish you all have a holiday season to recharge and look forward optimistically.

Remarkably, 2020 may have been the most successful year for waste reduction initiatives around the world!

-Dawson City town council passed a bylaw banning single use plastics in February. The ban covers plastic bags (including produce bags and grocery bags), plastic straws and utensils along with plastic and Styrofoam takeout containers.

-The Yukon bans both paper and plastic single-use shopping bags with updates to the Environment Act. Following a 60-day consultation period disposable shopping bags may be a thing of the past as soon as this summer.

-The federal Government announced it will be banning 6 single-use disposable plastic products in 2021: grocery bags, straws, cutlery, six-pack rings, some takeout containers, and stir sticks. This is the first action in Canada’s ambitious plan to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030.

-Various municipally lead single-use plastic bans sweep across the country in the following communities: Inuvik, NWT, Saint-Sophie, QC, Val Saint-Francois, QC, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, NL, Vancouver, BC, Devon, AB, Saint-Hippolyte, QC, Beaconsfield, QC, Sherbrooke, QC, Prince Albert, SK, Farnham, QC, Rimouski, QC, Riverview, NB, Dieppe, NB, Moncton, NB, Ucluelet, BC, Tofino, BC, Fort Frances, ON, Mono, ON, Beaubassin-est, NB, Cap-Pele, NB, Shediac, NB, Repentigny, QC, Victoria, BC, Richmond, BC, Saanich, BC.

-Nova Scotia and Newfoundland banned plastic shopping bags province-wide

Internationally many locations introduced waste reduction policies including:

-The EU banned the export of unsorted plastic waste to developing economies

-Germany bans single-use plastic products, which will come into effect from July 2021, as the Cabinet agrees in line with an EU directive to reduce waste

-New Jersey bans single use shopping bags and a range of single use polystyrene products

-Monaco banned disposable plastic cotton buds, cups, cutlery, and plates

-Tunisia banned single-use plastic bags at supermarkets and pharmacies

Welcome to Our New Coordinator Scott

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.

Waste Reduction Week Community Profiles!

For waste reduction week Zero Waste Yukon is celebrating members of our community for their efforts in 2020 in any of the themes of waste reduction week. 2020 has been a very challenging year for businesses and individuals so efforts to advance Zero Waste and sustainability are especially meaningful.


October 20 – Textiles

SewYukon 

SewYukon is a small Whitehorse business that incorporates the principles of zero waste in the making of various textile products. You may have seen the distinctive SewYukon masks sported around town.  SewYukon works to include repurposed materials as much as possible with the goal of converting waste into fashionable new products such as reusable face masks, blankets, artistic creations, and reusable wrapping paper! As a part of the business SewYukon finds creative uses for any scrap materials such as in pillow stuffing.

The business got started in 2019 from a home workshop and it has grown rapidly in 2020 due to the demand for re-usable facemasks. If you are interested in SewYukon items check out their Instagram @sewyukon and at the upcoming 12 Days of Christmas Fireweed community market. SewYukon is looking for  donations of various fabrics and denim – to donate please contact: northernlararae@gmail.com.  A few examples of SewYukon creations:


October 21 – E-Waste

Did you know that globally last year, the total amount of electronic waste reached 53.6 million metric tonnes? With such rapid advances in technology and endless new innovative products released every year, electronic waste will quickly become one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world.

Less waste can be produced through circular approaches to product design, business models, and procurement. Circularity can be built into products right at the design phase, ensuring they can be repaired, re-used, recycled, or returned – keeping them out of landfill, and keeping our resources in the ground.

Computers for Schools Yukon

Computers for Schools Yukon (CFSY.ca ) is the Yukon based branch of Computers for Schools a federal government-led program that collects, repairs, and refurbishes donated surplus computers from government and private sector sources and distributes them free to schools, non-profit organizations and libraries/museums throughout Canada.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the critical importance of accessible computer resources for work and for students. This year CFSY has experienced an extremely high demand from schools to ensure students have the tools they need for remote learning
(https://www.whitehorsestar.com/…/computers-for-schools…). The work of CFSY has enabled students to learn safely while diverting these valuable tools from being thrown away as e-waste. If you would like your old electronics to find a valuable new home CFSY is looking for donations of laptops, computers, monitors/TVs, and smartphones.
https://www.facebook.com/CFSYukon

October 23 – Food Waste

Food waste is a tremendously complex problem that is influenced by government policy, agricultural practices, food retailing practices, and personal behavior. Whitehorse is ahead of many Canadian communities with a municipal compost program and publicly distributed green bins. Additionally, grocery stores in Whitehorse are collaborating with the Food Bank and agricultural producers to prevent food from being considered waste in the first place. These are the food waste management tools other places are hoping to develop and we should be proud of our community accomplishments.

Food Waste Facts

  • It is estimated that individuals and households across Canada waste more than $10 billion worth of food annually.
  • Canada’s 2.2 million tonnes of avoidable household food waste is equivalent to 9.8 million tonnes of CO2 and 2.1 million cars on the road.
  • When organic material is sent to landfill to decompose it releases methane into the atmosphere, which is a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and is the single largest waste stream found in landfills. When composted food waste can turn into a valuable nutrient in compost it can then be applied to farming. When broken down in an anaerobic digester methane can be captured to produce renewable natural gas.
  • When edible food is redirected to food rescue organizations for distribution it maintains its highest value and security is improved for those that need it most: children’s breakfast programs, community centres, drop-in centres, and shelters.
  • When taking into consideration manufacturing and processing that figure rises to $21 billion. Expanding the value chain to include infrastructure, transport, restaurants, and retailers, etc. estimates peg the value of waste food at more than $49 billion annually.

 

Community Profile: LOOP Resources (https://loopresource.ca/)

Last week we had the chance to have a discussion with LOOP Resources a unique business that consults with grocery stores and food producers to reduce their food waste. It was hard not be excited by the approach LOOP has taken to the problem of food waste. Loop works with grocery stores across BC, AB, SK and Yukon, diverting unsaleable food to farms and registered charities. They take what would often be a waste product and divert for community use, animal feed or compost, helping to close the loop on local food production. LOOP follows a five-step process for waste reduction:

  1. Source reduction
  2. Diversion of food to humanitarian organizations
  3. Diverting food waste as agricultural feed
  4. Diverting food waste as fuel
  5. Diverting food waste as composting material

LOOP is involved in each of these steps from accounting for food waste and providing manifests of materials to recipient organizations to delivering the material to the recipients free of charge. Since 2015 LOOP has grown from a relationship with a single store in Dawson Creek, BC to partnerships with stores across Western Canada. LOOP new project director Jaime White said, “LOOP is currently diverting about 2 million kg of food per month away from disposal”. In the Yukon LOOP is providing diverted food free of charge to 24 local area farms and the Whitehorse Food Bank.

This week SaveOn Foods in Whitehorse in partnership with LOOP has started their food donation program to the Whitehorse foodbank. This partnership aims to provide consistent fresh and healthy food to the foodbank that would previously been considered waste. This represents a huge benefit to our community’s food security and sustainability.

Program connects farmers and grocery stores to tackle food waste


October 24 – Sharing Economy

Community Profile: Whitehorse Tool Library Society

The Whitehorse Tool Library Society was created in early 2020 by a group of dedicated individuals seeking to provide a tool lending service to the Whitehorse community. A tool library is like a traditional library, but for tools and other equipment instead of books.

Tool Libraries operate using a lending model rather than a sales model, and strive to reduce barriers that prevent community members from accessing and using tools. Cost of tools, lack of storage space and lack of knowledge can discourage individuals from trying and using tools. Tool libraries empower community members to complete repairs and projects themselves, providing low-barrier access to everything from hand and power tools to gardening supplies and specialized repair tools.

The sharing model of a tool library also aims to reduce consumerism and promote sustainability. Sharing tools and equipment among community members ensures materials are kept at their highest and best use as long as possible, preventing the waste of resources from overconsumption, disposal, and tools sitting idle. The sharing economy is a pillar of the wider circular economy which aims to disrupt the traditional ‘take-make-waste’ linear economy in favour of sustainability.

The WTL is still in the stages of securing funding to set up a mobile or semi-permanent structure in which to house the library. So far, the Whitehorse Tool Library has received a grant from the Yukon Innovation Prize, and over 30 memberships have been pre-sold. The WTL plans to host an AGM this winter to update members and bring in others who are interested in being a part of this exciting endeavour. Anyone interested in getting involved can e-mail whitehorsetoollibrary@gmail.com or visit their facebook page: www.facebook.com/whitehorsetoollibrary


October 25 – Swap and Repair


Two critical pillars of the circular economy are swap and repair. One of the simplest ways to reduce waste is to prevent items from ever becoming waste. If you don’t have a use for an item but it has value to other people a swap or donation is a great way to reduce waste and contribute to the community. If an item is broken can it be fixed? Simple fixes can save you money and prevent all of the sustainability issues with disposal, recycling, and manufacturing a replacement.

Community Profile: Yukonstruct and Repair Café

Yukonstruct has been hosting Repair Café Whitehorse drop-in events since 2014. These events bring together talented repair volunteers with community members looking for repair help. The events connect the skillsets and tools necessary to repair a vast array of electronics. The goal of repair café is not to have the volunteers fix the items directly but rather educate and engage with the owner to learn what is wrong with it and help to fix the item collaboratively.

Repair volunteer Glenn Piwowar a professional engineer has spearheaded the event’s for years now and he spoke to Zero Waste Yukon for Waste Reduction Week. Glen said, “The majority of items that are brought in are fixed” and he emphasized that after one event many of the participants come back again but with a greater sense of confidence that they can fix what they are working on. He said that at times there has been up to 10 repair volunteers and that the events are a fun environment to meet like minded individuals.

If you have a broken toaster, vacuum cleaner, or other electronic appliance check out Repair café at Yukonstruct (2180 2nd Ave) on the last Thursday of each month. To ensure COVID safe events the workstations have been distanced and all participants are required to wear a mask.

 

Community Profile: Renueva

Renueva in downtown Whitehorse is a vintage clothing and sewing services store that truly lives the Swap and Repair values! Renueva is named for the Spanish word for Renew, which is the guiding value of the business. The owner Karin Martinez-Gomez goes beyond repairs and alterations of clothing she works to repurpose and recycle all the fabrics they work with even creating custom pieces from repurposed materials. Renueva includes a vintage clothing store and fully featured sewing services.

In response to the shortage of masks in 2020, Renueva has made over 5000 masks for the public and various organizations across the Yukon!  They work to make the masks from repurposed and recycled materials as an expression of their commitment to sustainability and community health.

Renueva is located at 4133 4th Avenue and they offer the following services:

  • Clothing alterations
  • Pants hemming
  • Clothing repair
  • Made to measure clothing
  • Pants hemming
  • Shoe repair
  • Leather repair
  • Clothing consignment