Zero Waste Blog
Check the blog to stay updated on what’s happening locally, to learn about strategies for reducing waste, and more!
Waste Reduction Week Community Profiles!October 20, 2020
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 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
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:
- Source reduction
- Diversion of food to humanitarian organizations
- Diverting food waste as agricultural feed
- Diverting food waste as fuel
- 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.
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 email@example.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