June 10th, 2014

Quick Tips for Greening Your Neighbour Day Event

Neighbour-Day-Header-610

To celebrate how Calgarians came together after the worst flood in its history, many communities will be hosting celebrations on Neighbour Day, June 21st. The flood created an estimated one year’s worth of garbage in Calgary in only a few hours. So when you are planning your commemorative event – or  any backyard BBQ or block party – it’s important to think about minimizing the waste.
Here are a few of the ways you can green your event:

non-paper-platesMake It a BOYD Party

If you’re hosting a BBQ or potluck party, an easy way to reduce the amount of waste created is to ask your neighbours to bring their own dishes. “This not only helps reduce the amount of waste being thrown away at the end, but it also saves you some money and cleanup,” says Louise Daly, Manager of Events with Green Calgary. It’s also important to have some disposable plates on hand in case people forget to bring their own. World Centric sustainable and compostable fibre plates are a great green option. They are made from wheatstraw fiber – an annually renewable resource – and they are soak proof.

Have a Dishwashing Station

If your neighbours are on-board with bringing their own dishes, have a dishwashing station that allows them to clean up their plates, cutlery, and cups afterwards so that you can minimize the mess. All you’ll need is dish soap, a few wash tubs and some wash cloths and you’ll be all set for your eco-friendly potluck or barbeque!

Choose Green Food & Beverage Options

Food and beverage are a big part of any event, but they can create a lot of waste. To keep your community space clean after the big party, Green Calgary recommends opting for food and beverage items that minimize waste – this can be a wide variety of things, from providing tap water instead of bottled water to serving drinks and condiments in bulk form.  Asking your neighbours to bring their own reusable water bottle  and provide jugs of tap water instead of individual disposable bottles for re-filling.

Recycle & Compost Leftovers

Set up waste stations at your event that include recycling and compost bins in addition to garbage bins; this way, your community can recycle and compost as much as possible. If you use compostable dishware like fibre plates, be sure to let your neighbours know they can go in the compost bins. Bag to Earth food waste bags  are made from all natural materials and are designed to disappear fully into the earth: perfect for disposing of food scraps and other compostable materials at your party.

Since the 2008 launch of  What’s the Green Deal, London Drugs now tallies more than 42 million pounds of materials recycled including over a million kilograms of electronics and devices, and over 200,000 pounds of Styrofoam.

June 21st, 2013

It’s time for green beach days and guilt-free picnics.

non-paper-plates

Sustainable living doesn’t mean you have to give up on the summer fun. If you’re throwing a beach party and don’t want to worry about washing dishes, World Centric has a line of almost-guilt-free disposable dinnerware. The plates and bowls are made from wheat straw fiber instead of trees. Their cups are made from paper and 100% bio-based lining instead of petroleum-based plastic. World Centric cutlery is made from TPLA, consisting of 70% non-GMO corn and 30% talc. All of their products conform to the ASTM D-6400 standard of biodegradability, meaning they break down in commercial composters in 3-6 months. (Should be no problem for municipal systems like those used by Vancouver’s Green Bin program) If you’re a real green picnic geek, you can learn more on the World Centric website.

recycled-platesIf throwing away your plate still seems evil, try the reusable plates and bowls from Preserve. Made in the USA from 100% recycled plastic, (including take-out containers) these green beauties are BPA-free and dishwasher safe. Preserve will even take them back and recycle therm AGAIN when you are done.

green-sunscreensAs you are basking in your righteous green-ness, don’t forget to keep the warming sun at bay with sunscreen alternatives by Green Beaver and Badger. Green Beaver Sunscreen is certified organic, biodegradable and gluten-free. The Badger formula is non-nano, biodegradable and water resistant.

Barbecue and beach season await, so get out there and enjoy the world. And leave a smaller footprint at the same time.

February 25th, 2011

Green Deal 101 – Composting


Did you know that kitchen waste makes up some 30% of household waste in Canada? Or that the methane created when these organics decompose in a landfill can be 20 times as potent a greenhouse gas as CO2? The good news is, organics are not really garbage. Most of this waste can be easily converted to rich, healthy soil. That’s composting. And it’s one of the best things you can do to cut waste and regenerate the soil.

If you have a back yard, or even a balcony, it’s relatively easy to get a composter going. Many municipalities sell them and some have special seasonal discounts. Composting right in the kitchen is also possible with a worm composter, but it takes a bit more dedication and care.

The composting process is pretty straightforward. You put in uncooked fruit and vegetable peelings, grass clippings, leaves, stale bread, eggshells, teabags, straw, coffee grounds and even dryer lint. Bacteria, fungi, microorganisms and worms turn it all into a dark, earthy, soil-like substance that actually smells rather fresh.

It’s important for a compost pile to have the right combination of ingredients and that it contain the right level of moisture. There are some good resources online where you can get specific information on compost content and maintenance.

Some municipalities , including most of Lower Mainland Vancouver, even have pick-up programs for compost, along with yard waste. Here is a link to information on the Vancouver program.
London Drugs also has some products that make composting a lot handier, like the Bag to Earth cellulose-lined compostable paper bags (a great choice for municipal programs) and the SureClose Food Scraps Container.

So whether you do it yourself or use a local municipal program, it’s a good idea to dig into composting.

Where to find out more:

City of Vancouver Food Scraps Collection Program
‘Here’s the Dirt’ PDF on composting from Metro Vancouver
‘Here’s the Dirt’ PDF on WORM composting from Metro Vancouver
Winter composting in Calgary
City of Saskatoon Composting

March 13th, 2009

What is the best dressed garbage wearing this year? Award winning kitchen bags by GLAD®.


In the world of retail, Canada’s version of the OSCAR® has to be the Best New Product Awards, held in Toronto. In this year’s awards, or the first time, a non-food product won best of show, with the award going to… GLAD® 100% Compostable and Biodegradable Kitchen Bags.
According to Robert Levy, president and CEO of BrandSpark International, which hosts the awards, consumers rated the product highly for being “an environmentally friendly product that works well,” adding that he suspects the green movement has much to do with it. “I think we’ve passed the tipping point and consumers are willing to act.”
According to the package, the GLAD® compostable bags are made from ‘vegetable based material that is 100% biodegradable’. This is backed up with certification by the Biodegradable Products Institute, which means they are designed to compost quickly, completely and safely, without leaving any plastic residues. (Unlike some ‘degradable’ plastics, which only break down into smaller plastic pieces)
The bags are designed for municipal compost systems, which unfortunately, don’t yet exist in all areas of Canada. I called the GLAD® Customer service number (1-800-561-5039) to find out more. Albert, from Peoria Illinois, seemed surprised that we didn’t have municipal composting in Vancouver. Even his supervisor didn’t have an answer when I asked about how well the bags might break down in a backyard compost system. So I guess it’s up to your faithful GreenDeal blogger to find out. Stay tuned.
For regular garbage, using a compostable bag is still a good idea, according to the person I spoke with at the Vancouver Landfill, especially if it contains leaves, food waste or other compostable material. It’s one less piece of plastic, and it does help in the long term.
Glad 100% compostable and biodegradable kitchen bags, made by Clorox, are available at London Drugs.