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Americans alone use and throw out 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour or over sixty million every single day. Six to ten million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year, choking the life out of sea creatures. Millions of seabirds are dying from ingesting this plastic. In the Pacific Ocean, the great Pacific garbage gyre is now a permanent whirlpool of plastic garbage bigger than Texas leaking toxins into the food chain. The unnecessary use of disposable plastic also adds to greenhouse gasses. There are many efforts going on to reduce plastic garbage.

One man has a simple idea that he thinks might make a big difference—a simple pledge that he hopes millions of people will take to refuse to use three things: Plastic water bottles, plastic straws and plastic shopping bags.

The idea came to John Izzo, a business advisor and author, while writing his sixth book, Stepping Up: How Taking Responsibility Changes Everything. He interviewed scores of people who had stepped up to create change including three women who tackled female poverty in Uganda to a group of ecologists and journalists who confronted the Russian whaling fleet leading to a ban on commercial whaling. “Here I was interviewing all these people who had stepped up to create change which got me thinking about what I could do about this plastic issue.”

But the tipping point came when Izzo watched the trailer for the forthcoming documentary, Midway Journey, a Chris Jordan film about thousands of albatross dying from ingesting plastic on Midway Island several thousand miles from any continent. “I was horrified as I watched the devastation. As I watched these newborn birds dying from eating plastic garbage I kept thinking there must be a simple way that the average person can do something and get engaged on this issue.”

Though Izzo admired people like Beth Terry, founder of www.myplasticfreelife.com whom he had written about in Stepping Up, he felt that going totally plastic free would be too much for most people as a starting point. “That is when I thought of the idea of this three part pledge, these three items that we use on a daily basis in the developed world that could easily be eliminated. First, I took the pledge myself and found that with a few metal water bottles, some cloth bags kept in my car and deciding not to use straws, I could easily make this change.”

Izzo funded the development of www.noplasticpledge.com which tracks the number of people who have taken the pledge, educates people about the issue of plastic garbage, and links people to other organizations that are tackling the issue. The site was launched on March 5th and he has already been joined by organizations like the Plastic Pollution Coalition, Beth Terry and the makers of the Midway film in promoting the pledge.

“In my book I try to counter the idea that one person can’t make a difference. One reason we think that one person doesn’t matter is because we forget the power of aggregate influence, which is what happens when one times many take a small action thereby making a huge difference,” Izzo says.

Izzo’s goal is ambitious—to get one million to take the pledge in 2012 and one hundred million by the end of 2013. “The hope is that entire schools, families and workplaces will choose to take the simple pledge. Even if people aren’t 100% pure, even if they reduce their use of these three products by 90% we can eliminate 170 billion pieces of plastic garbage every single year!”

We would love your support to help raise awareness and encourage others to take the pledge by blogging about this issue. www.myplasticfreelife.com  and the Plastic Pollution Coalition have joined us, but we can’t do it alone. Check out the www.noplasticpledge.com for information. And watch the Midway trailer (http://bit.ly/AdpkbG)  and visit their site http://www.midwayjourney.com to find out more about the documentary.

To interview Dr. John Izzo about the pledge, contact Linda Parsons at 778.737.4991

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Metro Vancouver just launched a free new iPhone app to help people keep resources out of their trash.  Check out weRecycle on iTunes:

http://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/werecycle/id502866356?mt=8

With weRecycle all you have to do is enter a material and hit search.  You’ll get a list of the closest donation and recycling facilities and a Google map that uses your iPhone’s current location.  Or you can enter another location like your home address.

I’m hoping you agree that weRecycle will help the region’s residents find convenient locations to donate and recycle unwanted materials, and that you’ll be kind enough to tell your social networks about it.

It’s fast, it’s free, it’ll move us closer to zero waste and we think it’s pretty awesome.

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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:

Results
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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This is simply brilliant! Using this ‘app’ you can track all the safe locations in Metro Vancouver to drink tap water and stop purchasing harmful and wasteful plastic water bottles!

Great thinking Metro Vancouver!

Description

Quickly locate the closest public drinking fountains in Metro Vancouver.

Metro Vancouver’s Tap Map contains the locations of over 550 public drinking fountains in member municipalities spanning from West Vancouver to Langley.

Download this free app to help you access Metro Vancouver’s mountain fresh and pure tap water when you’re on the go anywhere in the region.

iPhone Screenshots

iPhone Screenshot 1
iPhone Screenshot 2
Tap Water Campaign
We have high quality drinking water

Metro Vancouver supplies tap water for our region.  The source is rainwater, which is stored in the Capilano, Seymour and Coquitlam reservoirs.  Five hundred eighty-five square kilometres of mountainous watersheds are closed to public access to protect these large supply lakes.
New Treatment Plant

While it has been operational since January, on Friday, May 7, 2010 Metro Vancouver took advantage of the warm, sunny weather to celebrate the official opening of the Seymour-Capilano Filtration Plant. Attendees included Metro Vancouver Board Directors, staff, contractors, environmental groups, involved residents and local media. Following speeches and a special thank-you to the Canada-British Columbia Infrastructure Program, participants celebrated with a glass of pure, mountain fresh water. For highlights of the official opening and to learn more about this amazing new filtration plant, check out this video. And please remember: the next time you want water, turn on the tap.
Watch video clip
required Flash Player
Seymour Capilano Filtration Plant Official Opening
For more information and history on the Seymour-Capilano Filtration Plant and the associated projects at Capilano, click here.
Why Metro Vancouver has a Tap Water Campaign
  • Metro Vancouver is committed to reducing bottled water use by 20% by 2010 to reduce the environmental impact of single-use plastic bottles.
  • Millions of single-use plastic water bottles (one litre or smaller) ended up in our region’s landfills in 2007.
  • We want to provide a tangible way for residents to support sustainability – using refillable water containers instead of single-use plastic water bottles.

Metro Vancouver partnered with Pacific Cinematheque’s Summer Visions Film Institute for Youth to produce a series of public service announcements about drinking tap water.

Watch their fun and innovative PSAs.

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Don’t waste water on your lawn. But if you must water… Lawn sprinkling regulations are in effect from June 1 to September 30. Lawn Sprinkling is allowed only from 4 to 9 am and 7 to 10 pm on the following days:   

Even-numbered addresses: Wednesday & Saturday
Odd-numbered addresses: Thursday & Sunday   

 Lawn Sprinkling
Lawn sprinkling: a key summer reduction
In summer demand for treated water almost doubles in the Lower Mainland (mostly due to outdoor use) at the same time that rainfall is the lowest. These restrictions help reduce the rate of water consumption and lower the risk of reservoir levels being depleted.Purpose  
The regulations restrict lawn sprinkling during the summer months to manage demand for drinking water. The lawn sprinkling regulations have been in place since 1993 and are part of the regional Water Shortage Response Plan that mostly outlines measures to reduce demand for outdoor use.  Exemptions
  Newly-planted lawns will be allowed to be watered outside of restricted times only with a special permit from your municipality
  Watering of flower and vegetable gardens, decorative planters, shrubs and trees
  Filling of pools, spas, water play parks and fountains
  Washing of cars or boats using spring-loaded shutoff
  Sports playing fields and school yards
  Lawns at golf courses and turf farms
  Artificial turf requiring wetting and outdoor tracks requiring hosing for dust control or safety   

Source

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Have a wonderful long weekend! Here are a few things you could do this weekend as well as all your local events and fireworks. Be safe and have a wonderful long weekend.

See ya next week.

Rani

May 17 – 24, 2010
Vancouver International Children’s Festival 2010. A world-renowned festival of performing arts for young audiences, the Vancouver International Children’s Festival has been educating, entertaining and inspiring young audiences since 1978. Jam-packed with music, theatre, dance, storytelling, puppetry, circus arts and much more, the Vancouver International Children’s Festival embodies the buoyant spirit and endless curiosity of children all over the world. Kids of all ages can try something new or just have some fun at one of our more than 20 colourful site activities! http://www.childrensfestival.ca

May 19, 2010
Free The Children celebrates young global change makers in BC at West Fest 2.0. Join Free The Children for a night of renowned speakers, inspiring youth leaders and rockin’ live performances at West Fest 2.0. This exciting event marks the one year anniversary of our west coast headquarters and showcases the exemplary achievements of youth in B.C. Made possible by the hard work of Free The Children staff and volunteers – West Fest 2.0 invites youth, schools groups, families and community members to share in the celebration. The Vogue Theatre, www.freethechildren.com/westfest.


May 21 – 22, 2010
May Long Weekend – Official Patio Season Opener and Benefit for Children’s Hospital.  Hamilton Street Grill officially opens their patio with a BBQ benefiting Children’s Hospital. www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com


May 21 – 24, 2010
Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair. This 4 day event hosts some of the world’s top cowboys & cowgirls as well as tons of family-friendly fun, including BC’s largest travelling midway. Enjoy live entertainment, education, exhibitions, arts & crafts competitions, rodeo action & more. All ages are guaranteed a memorable Victoria Day Long Weekend. http://www.cloverdalerodeo.com


May 24, 2010
21st Annual Edition North Shore Spring Triathlon. Join us for the 21st anniversary edition of the North Shore Spring Triathlon on Monday, May 24, 2010 (Victoria Day). This year’s race features a spectator friendly course, Legendary Race Announcer Steve King & long-sleeved technical garments for all participants. Downline a copy of the 2009 entry form at our website. There is a course for everyone: kids 7 & under, 8-11 & 12-15; adults. http://www.nstc.ca

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This is from Metro Vancouver on idea’s around recycling styrofoam:

Check out Pacific Mobile Depot at http://www.pacificmobiledepots.com/,  they come to the mainland on the third Saturday of every month.  For a few bucks they’ll take your Styrofoam.

Some stores, like London Drugs, will take back polystyrene packaging when you buy products there.

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