Archive for December, 2010

Hello all –

Our final report is completed and submitted to Metro Vancouver. If you would like more information about how we did, some of our stories and successes please take a read.

We are all very proud of our accomplishments.

We will continue to update our blog with related information and from time to time updates on how our ‘families’ are doing post-challenge.

All the best this season.

Merry Christmas from Glenbrook North!

Some highlights from the Report:

There are many ways to measure the success of a community challenge such as this. The sharing of waste reduction ideas, the building of community, and the lessons learned made the GNCZWC a success. Fortunately, the statistics also show the Challenge was very successful at reducing the amount of non-recyclable waste produced by the community and headed for the landfill.
Results for the GNCZWC are presented and discussed in the following sections. Data was prepared using the average per household measurement in order to demonstrate the performance of the neighbourhood as a whole.
Waste Reduction Statistics
Chart 1: Average Weight of Generated Waste per Household (refer to actual report for data)
This chart shows the overall picture of garbage reduction. The first 5 weeks were the Baseline period where the families were to maintain existing habits and not make any efforts to change behaviour. As you can see, the families already produced less garbage per week then the average lower mainland household. However, the reduction from these first 5 weeks (when the garbage output averaged between 7 and 8 kg/week) to the 8 weeks of the challenge part of the Challenge (when the average output was around 4 kg/week) is significant and remarkable. Trends to note were the overall decrease in the amount of trash, the relatively stable amount going to recycling, and the increase in organics diverted.

Although there was an overall increase in composting, the amounts of compostable material generated probably more reflected changes in gardening and lawn care practices due to the spring season, and might not continue at this level for the rest of the year. The notable increase in organics diversion at the start of the pilot dropped slightly and stabilized after week 8.
The increase in garbage output during week 4 may have been due to efforts to “clear out” garbage during the last week of the Baseline period before the Challenge period started, or perhaps due to long Easter weekend spring-cleaning.
There is a slight reduction in the amount of recyclables that went to the curb or the Eco Shed every week. At first glance, this would suggest that much of the reduction in trash was not from changing behaviors “under the sink”, but from an effort to reduce the amount of trash that was produced in the first place. In other words, this indicates that the balance of the garbage drop in the neighbourhood could be attributed to reduction in the consumption of products in general. This is an important behavioural change to note as reduction finds itself higher on the hierarchy of the 6 Rs.
The net result of the slight decrease in total recyclables, the increase in the amount of organics composting, and the overall dramatic decrease in overall waste results in a significant increase in the “diversion rate”, as shown on Chart 2.
Chart 2: Diversion Rate. Glenbrook North‟s initial Baseline diversion rate was already greater than the regional average calculated by Metro Vancouver. The participants were able to successfully increase their combined diversion rate to greater than 77%.

This is a remarkable achievement. Metro Vancouver has a stipulation in it‟s new Integrated Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan that single family households in the region should strive to achieve a minimum diversion rate of 65% by 2015, from the current rate of 45%. The GNCZWC demonstrated that the goal is quite achievable, and that it was possible to reach a rate of near 80% diversion. The participants increased their diversion rate by 15 – 20 percentage points, and did so in a relatively short period of time.


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Portland has an interesting approach:

Residential Garbage and Recycling System

Residential garbage and recycling service in Portland is provided by franchised garbage and recycling companies, each of which is assigned specific service areas. Rates for residential service are set by the City of Portland.

Commercial Garbage and Recycling System

Commercial garbage and recycling service operates in an open market. Businesses (including multifamily residences of more than 5 units) choose any permitted garbage and recycling company and negotiate a price. View list of permitted garbage and recycling companies. Individuals must obtain a permit prior to providing garbae and recycling service in the City of Portland.  For information on obtaining a permit, please contact Debbie Yost at 503 823-7631 or email wasteinfo@portlandoregon.gov

Permitted Commercial Companies:

All permitted commercial garbage and recycling companies provide recycling. In addition, Independent Recyclers specialize in various recyclables. Any person collecting commercial garbage within the Portland Urban Services Boundary must obtain a commercial waste collection permit from the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. Collecting without a valid permit, or when a permit has been suspended is an Infraction subject to an assessment.

Independent commercial recyclers

Any person collecting commercial garbage within the Portland Urban Services Boundary must obtain a commercial waste collection permit from the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. Collecting without a valid permit, or when a permit has been suspended is an Infraction.

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For many, Christmas is a time to pull out all the stops when it comes to gift-giving. Malls and shopping centers fill to bursting with consumers looking to empty their wallets and carry home piles of gadgets, clothes and toys.

With growing awareness of the problem of global warming and the risks involved with burning large amounts of fossil fuels to manufacture, package and transport goods, many people are looking for ways to “green” their lifestyle. Here are some ideas to help you and your family have a green Christmas this year.

A green Christmas may take a bit more advance planning than heading to your local mall on Christmas Eve, but going green can be a powerful statement of your beliefs by using your spending dollar to send a powerful message.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

– Instead of buying something brand-new, try making gifts and wrapping by using recycled or salvaged materials.

– Gift bags can be made by using scrap pieces of colorful cotton cloth.

– Instead of buying a brand new book or CD, see if you can find one in good condition at a second-hand bookstore.

– For those looking for gifts for kids, you can make great sock puppets out of the solitary socks lurking in the bottom of your drawer.

Get creative! Going green means you’re saving useful materials from the landfill and avoiding the environmental impact of buying something brand new.

Give Handmade Gifts

Ask yourself what kind of crafty skills you have, and use those skills to make gifts for friends and family. Most people are delighted to received a handcrafted gift because of the investment of time, love and creative energy it represents.

– If you excel in the kitchen, try making preserves, cakes, pies or bread.

– If you like to work with wood, use your skills to craft CD racks or spice shelves.

– If you knit, try stuffing a pair of hand knit socks into a stocking this year.

– If you’re not comfortable making gifts, or simply lack the time, you can give something green by buying products made locally.

Buying gifts made by local artisans and craftspeople supports the artists in your midst and boosts your local economy, as well as avoiding the carbon emissions caused by shipping.

Share an Experience

What do you give those people who have everything? Instead of buying them another gadget that they might already have and probably don’t really need, give them an experience.

– An afternoon of horseback riding, a massage or pedicure, a session in a pottery studio or tickets to a concert or play are all environmentally friendly gift ideas.

Many gifts given each Christmas end up buried in the back of the closet by January, and eventually make their way to the landfill, but an experience will last forever in someone’s memory.

With a little creativity and ingenuity, a green gift can be found to suit everyone on your list. Christmas is a great time to put your environmentally friendly thoughts into practice, and the more we practice living green, the more it becomes a natural way of living.


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