Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fall into our Next Steps

June was a month of garbage for me including a family adventure to the Landfill Open House, and for our own Britannia Green Team we held our first event "First Steps to Zero Waste"

Since then, the green team has been on a break as everyone needed time to have fun in the sun. But now it is fall, school is in and its time to get back on track. :D

We are a variety of municipal and community services, and 2 schools, that are not connected in any kind of holistic way when it comes to garbage and recycling. So the idea of launching a Zero Waste Challenge for the centre and the surrounding communty is just a little bit on the daft side...but I remain fiercely confident that it can be achieved.

We just need to figure out the barriers to achieving the goal first which is what the 'First Steps to Zero Waste' was all about. I invited some folks who like to think big when it comes to waste management and sustainability along for a little tour of the complex and offered up a potluck lunch for us to nosh on while we reflected on what was seen on the tour.

I felt very fortunate to have a few wonderful ladies from Metro Vancouver, as well as David Cadman who is a city councilor who has been engaged in all things sustainable for many years (and a member of the Greenest City Action Team) and Sean who is the Sustainable Schools Project Coordinator for Check Your Head who all came out to explore our potential challenge with us.

Aside from not scheduling enough time to actually tour the whole site (would take a few hours on its own) and the embarassment of finding mold on one of the breads (I had just bought within an hour of the event!) everything went really well.

The objective was to find out what we need to do next...and now we know. Our first big challenge is to map out what garbage ends up where, who is contracted to remove it, and how many different contracts for waste management and recycling services exist throughout the whole complex. There does not appear to be one person who knows it all off the top of their head, so some digging needs to be done to get to the bottom of it all.

Fortunately our friends at Metro Vancouver have sent us a couple of things that will help us get a grip on this information. A 'Garbage and Recycling baseline' form and 'Smart Steps Waste Assessment', both of which need info from all time for our team to pull together!

Another thing the ladies from Metro offered to do was a dumpster dive so we can see the varied types of garbage being disposed of from various areas of the complex. This activity can help us identify areas where we can work to minimize the waste ending up in the dumpsters to begin with. As you can imagine there are not many people excited about that opportunity other than me, but I'm sure when the time comes I'll have recruited some other keeners, hehe.

Other ideas that were tossed out thorughout the day during our First Steps tour were passive lighting changes, roof top solar panels and gardens, a community garden and composting area, better waste recepticles that actually offer recycling spaces for the public (can you believe we don't have that already?!), bulk purchasing for the complex and so much more. What a brimming fountain of ideas and inspiration the small group on that day generated!!

Now the Green Team needs to take action on our next steps in our Zero Waste Challenge for Britannia. After the well received feedback from the staff, society board members, the school board trustees, park board commissioners and city councilors I've shared some ideas with I truly believe it will happen now. And already there are brilliant minds reflecting on all the potential that exists. What's your vision?

Just like the landfill taps into the potential energy created by methane gas from our garbage to provide power for many thousands of people in the Delta area - I want Britannia to tap into the potential power that surrounds us. The power of the people in our community that have always risen to the challenge of making things better :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Our First Steps to Zero Waste

The Britannia Green Team is hosting an event

"First Steps to Zero Waste"

on June 25th from 11:30am - 1:00pm
The event will include a walk about the complex starting at the Info Centre at 11:30am. This walk about will give us a glimpse of the garbage and recycling challenges our complex is facing throughout.

Then we'll head to the Learning Resource Room (beneath the Library) to enjoy a potluck meal while we discuss observations and barriers we face in turning Britannia into a Zero Waste community for the future.

Please RSVP by Monday June 22nd so we can ensure:
a) We have enough food for all (please also notify me if you are planning on bringing a contribution to the feast!)

b) We have a delegate from each area of the community complex to help us understand the gaps in our waste management approach overall

Once we have defined some of our challenges in achieving a Zero Waste goal, then we can work towards our solutions to make it all happen!

Hope to see you there everyone!!

Be well

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

We Can Be the Change!

I was at an event on the weekend called "The Great Turning: An Unconference to Be the Change" and Britannia and our new idea for a Zero Waste Challenge was in my mind a lot that day! The whole day inspired me and left me in a awesome state of reflection on the positive changes we can make to our society.

I had been deliberately trying to avoid the circle talk entitled "Garbage: Our Gateway to Action" as I wanted a break from trash talk between green teams at work and home...but, by the mysterious organic nature of the event I ended up at that particular circle talk anyways! Seems I can't get away from garbage and recycling - it truly is my gateway to action these days ;)

In this circle I met a bunch of great folks including a woman who had been working on the Zero Waste Challenge web site for MetroVancouver and she was a wealth of knowledge on sites to explore. The synergy continues...

Throughout the day I also got to speak with a couple of friends who will be fantastic allies in helping us achieve our visionary changes. Kevin Millsip who has been hired by the Vancouver Board of Education as their Sustainable Schools coordinator, which will be handy given we have 2 schools in our complex to incorporate into a zero waste challenge so I look forward to bringin him in to the loop. And my friend Andrea Reimer, who is a Vancouver City Councillor, upon hearing our plans says she looks forward to working with us to pull it off! Our "little" Zero Waste vision got a few people excited and enhanced my belief that we can and will do this!

So, our next step is to have a potluck lunch, walk around the complex and dialogue - tentative date Thursday June 25th. I'll update when we have confirmed the presence of a Vancouver Greenest City team member, as well as an advisor from the MetroVancouver waste assessment branch.

cheers to possibility!

"You don't filter smokestacks or water. Instead, you put the filter in your head and design the problem out of existence." William McDonough

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Imagine...Britannia: Zero Waste - 2015

Members of Team Green Brit met today to brainstorm ideas for recycling. As it turns out, we have a much bigger vision then simply overhauling the recycling.

We believe Britannia, and the community that embraces it, are up to a Zero Waste Challenge. The goal is to achieve a Zero Waste footprint for the Britannia community complex by 2015!

Given we live within a city that aims to be the Greenest City in the world by 2020 (and #7 in their scope of mandate is "supporting neighbourhood sustainability initiatives"), and this city is a member of a regional district that has a zero waste challenge mandate...the timing couldn't be more perfect for a project of this size. And if ever there was a worksite, and a community, up for a challenge it is the Britannia community! ;)

So, our first idea is to invite someone from the Greenest City Action Team, and an advisor from the Metro Vancouver waste assesment service, to attend a walk around the complex and discussion on what we're doing...and what we could be doing better. We'd like to find out why a commmunity hub of municipal services does not already have a holistic city recycling program, and how we can help make that happen.

Zero Waste by 2015 may be a lofty goal (maybe we'll stretch it to 2020), but together this community has proven time and time again that it can achieve anything it sets its mind to. Let's envision what the ideal could be...and then find our ways to make it happen!

Please send us your visions, ideas and resources to

Details to come on other action ideas we discussed, such as hosting a Day of Recycling where community members can bring batteries, styrofoam and other things that can be returned to manufacturers or desposed of in safe ways.

If you have been riding your bike, walking or taking transit to work this week - Bike to Work Week, be sure to fill out a ballot in the Info Centre each day for entry into the prize draw next week! :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Team Green Brit is really about making the Earth Day mentality a reality every day here in our community complex, so I thought I'd post this cheeky cartoon instead of a beautiful earth image...keep our perspective focused on the end goal of zero waste one day, hehe ;)

The recycling survey showed that 92.9% of the staff who completed it consider themselves to be “green at heart” who are actively looking for ways to decrease their eco-footprint, the other 7.1% are “wanna be green” and would like to do more to decrease their footprint but don’t know how.

Given the majority of staff would like to decrease our individual and collective footprints, the Team decided to start by making recycle kits for everyone to have at their desk to make recycling easy for all.

The entire complex will take a while to transform one step at a time, so the first step will be examining how much paper waste we create within the Info Centre and how much we can streamline this amount. A monthly tip sheet will also keep the staff of Britannia informed on ways we can contribute to goals of reducing our overall impact.

Further ideas around potential incentive style programs or competitions between all the silos in our complex may be pursued to increase participation in the greening of Brit, as well as continued work towards defining a comprehensive recycling program for all waste within the complex (ultimate end goal!)

Please keep all your fresh ideas coming, along with feedback on some things that could be done differently to improve recycling throughout the complex.

The team will meet again in May (details to come) and we're hopin to bring more folks to the table...calling all keeners in childcare, schools, pool, rink and library - c'mon out and help us green this place up! :)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A little dose of musical inspiration...just 'cuz

If you haven't heard of Playing for Change: Peace Through Music (an inspiring global musical initiative) I hope you enjoy your first dose here with "One Love".

Also check out their beautiful collaborations for "Don't Worry" and "Stand By Me"
for guaranteed feel good music. :)

Monday, March 9, 2009

envision a zero waste community

To provide some food for thought for our first Team Green Brit brainstorming session here are a couple of articles you might want to peruse. Both from Worldchanging (a great resource for thinking about a bright green future)

Community as Technology - looks at defining barriers to sustainable change and finding community-enabling solutions to these problems. If ever there was a place that could find 'community-enabling' people and technologies it is Britannia!!

Designing a Zero Waste city - a peek at all the things San Fransico is doing to attempt having zero footprint by 2020! Good food for thought on how we can minimize waste for our complex :)

Monday, March 2, 2009

springing forward into action

This weekend we set our clocks forward which is always a sure fire sign that spring is upon us...if the budding trees, and blooming croci and daffodils peeking out weren't enough for ya! ;)

So, its time to take some Team Green Brit ideas and put them into action! We're gonna start with a lunch brainstorming meeting on March 11th at 12:30. The locale is yet to be determined, so if you are interested either contact Kathy via email (, or check back on the blog early next week for further details.

Two things up for discussion will be the results of the Britannia recycling survey (one week left to share your feedback if you haven't already folks!) and an open dialogue on ideas for making our Britannia complex the bright green hub to our community that we know it can be! If you have thoughts to contribute but are unable to make this meeting, please email your ideas so they can be included in our brainstorm!

If you need a little dose of positive to give you energy for action this spring, take 5 minutes and watch a brief clip of Blessed Unrest with Paul Hawken "How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being: And Why No one Saw it Coming"

Friday, February 27, 2009

are you so 'green' you have a problem?

Here's an intersting read for you - 'Dark Green "Carborexics": the Obsessive Generation of Extreme Environmental Activists' by Tom Leonard.

I'll agree that using your lawn as your toilet is an extreme, but looking for ways to simplify things to save energy and resources is still a worthwhile goal. Is it crazy that our city is considering by-law changes to allow backyard chickens? I don't think so...what about you?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

bright green new year :)

Happy New Year!

With winter registration and the holidays behind us, it is time to breathe life into the Team Green Brit initiative once again! Things are always busy here at Brit, so I'm lookin to pull together all you keeners that feel this 'team' can make a difference. A date for casual brainstorming over bevvies of choice will soon be let me know if you are interested in being a leader for your area in all things green in our community!

The survey on the recycling issues throughout our complex is still available for your feedback until the end of February. A summary of the problems, and all your creative ideas for solutions, will be available in March. Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts now!

A quick and easy read I found for the years inspiration is an article Invidividual Action vs Collective Action by No Impact Man and my fave line in the piece "there is one circumstance under which one person absolutely cannot make a difference: if that one person doesn't try"

cheers to the possibilities of 2009!