For #GlobalRefillWeek, our local group took to the grocery stores to demand bulk, refillable, and reusable options.
We were equipped with small placards that read:
We placed these placards throughout the stores on products that were excessively packaged, could easily be offered in a more sustainable way, and/or products that we would be more likely to purchase if they were delivered differently. Our group took the time to consider pros and cons of the packaging in place and brainstorm possible solutions to reduce/eliminate the plastic packaging.
It was enlightening to take the time to REALLY consider how much unnecessary packaging is used for convenience purposes, such as; individually wrapped granola bars and juice boxes. As we looked around us, there didn't seem to be any alternative options for consumers to go without packaging!
Our day began at Safeway, located at 499 River Avenue, Winnipeg, MB. The location has been going through some renovations, which has presented a valuable opportunity to reduce plastic waste. After we went through the store with our placards, we visited customer service to speak with the manager. When we first introduced ourselves and presented the topic we wanted to discuss, they were quite put off and hesitant to engage. However, we were able to discuss the positive steps they were taking to reduce their plastic waste, which made for a meaningful conversation.
The store is expanding its bulk food section to be 4x the size it is currently. It will be full of bulk health foods, which are promised to be cheaper than their packaged counterparts. The store management has also been strategic in reducing plastic bag dispense stations throughout the produce section and have been placing additional reusable produce bags throughout.
The managers were helpful and allowed us to leave our flyer and letter from Greenpeace Canada. We look forward to seeing the new bulk food sections and further environmental initiatives this location takes.
Our second location was at Walmart, located at 1000 Taylor Avenue, Winnipeg, MB. We made our way through a sea of parked vehicles, with a serious lack of sidewalks and safe cycling infrastructure throughout. Nonetheless, we entered and were immediately overwhelmed by the amount of packaging. It seemed that nearly everything we saw was pre-packaged in unnecessary plastic.
Being at Walmart did force us to consider the different customer-base, with an emphasis on price and convenience, rather than sustainable packaging. We hope that Walmart will be able to make the transition to bulk, refillable, and reusable packaging options, without compromising those aspects that are most important to their customer base.
We decided to stick to the food section of the Walmart Super Centre, as we feared we would not have enough placards to tackle the rest of the store. Once we were finished, we made our way to customer service. Unfortunately, there was a lineup and the staff seemed quite overwhelmed. Once we made it to the front of the line, we expressed that we were hoping to speak to the store manager about plastic packaging and the transition towards more bulk, refillable, and unpackaged options. The staff did not want to engage with us, passing us along to several people before we were told that the manager was on break. A staff member called the manager, which advised us that we could only file a complaint online. We were also not allowed to leave our flyer or the letter.
It seemed as if the location had no authority to make improvements to their product delivery systems and it all had to be administered by corporate.
Our final location was Real Canadian Superstore, located at 550 Kenaston Blvd., Winnipeg, MB. The store was quite busy at 2:00 pm on a Saturday, so it was more difficult to navigate the store with the placards and take photos. We left several cards throughout the produce section, but were quite pleased to come across an expansive bulk food section. It ranged from candies, to nuts, to baking goods.
When we approached customer service, they called over the manager of the bulk foods section to have a conversation. The manager was very positive, very engaged, and wanted to know more ways to improve their location from a sustainability perspective. She expressed that they hear complaints from customers on this issue ALL THE TIME and this area is ready to make the transition and expand their offerings. Although this was positive, it was brought to our attention that corporate was looking to take out some of their bulk food section to put in place additional packaged items.
It is evident that individual locations only have so much authority on these issues.
Superstore also had reusable produce bags for sale and was partnering with the FlashFood App to reduce food waste. The bulk food manager was happy to take our flyers and letter from Greenpeace Canada.
Overall, it was a valuable experience for our team to have a more in-depth understanding of the systems in place which are contributing to our plastic crisis. It appears that many of our local managers are knowledgable, environmentally-minded individuals, however, they are unable to implement a lot of the changes they want to because of manufacturers and and corporate entities, which they are a part of. It is clear that these issues need to be solved at the top, and if we take enough action across the country, our message will reach the top.
If you'd like to get your hands on some placards to place in your local grocery store, come out to our next organizing meeting and upcoming events.
Stay tuned as Greenpeace Canada releases their report!
FIt is no secret that plastic pollution is one of the major environmental issues of our time.
It is an issue that cannot be solved by recycling, compostable plastics, and/or paper packaging. Although these solutions may seem promising, unfortunately, the root issue is single-use and disposable packaging, which is not addressed by any of these.
Recycling - In Canada, only 9% of our plastic waste is sent to recycling facilities. The remaining waste ends up in land-fills (86%), incinerated (4%), or in the environment (1%). The 1% in our forests, and lakes, and animals may seem like a small percentage, but when you consider that 3 million tonnes of plastic waste in produced in Canada annually, it is a BIG problem.
Compostable and Paper Packaging - Industry-led solutions risk shifting the problem to forests and agricultural land, which would be extracted for valuable resources, only to be used for disposable packaging.
The solution is to reduce production of disposable items at the source.
It is essential for large manufacturers and retailers to innovate in order to get products to consumers in a way that eliminates the need for disposable packaging. Most of the solutions are already being used in bulk shops, zero-waste stores, farmers markets, and local groceries; they just need to be scaled to meet the needs of large manufacturers and retailers.
These product delivery solutions can include, but are not limited to;
It isn't only grocery stores and retailers that play a role in changing these product delivery systems, as we must also consider manufacturers.
There are many multinational manufacturers of consumer products, such as; Nestlé, PepsiCo, Unilever and Procter & Gamble, who have more than enough money and resources to drive innovation and change these systems. Although some are making strides to test filling stations and limit packaging, they are not doing nearly enough to ditch their disposable models.
So what is stopping retailers and manufacturers?
Many suggest that the packaging they provide helps to maintain hygiene. However, a recent study published by the American Society of Microbiology found that bagged salads provide the ideal conditions for salmonella. Furthermore, many fresh foods don't require any packaging, as they come wrapped in their own skin, such as; oranges, bananas, corn, avocados, etc. Under the right conditions, most food can be safely transported and consumed without the single-use plastic packaging.
Retailers and manufacturers have also pointed to the risk of cross-contamination for persons with allergies as a reason to maintain the current systems. To mitigate risk, retailers can focus on reducing food handling, for example, pre-packing bulk products in returnable/reusable containers to avoid cross contamination.
Most of all, retailers and manufacturers are not taking action to change their systems because the are not feeling consumer pressure. That is exactly what we are going to do with our #ReuseRevolution campaign. Find information about the event here.
To learn more about how retailers can implement these solutions for the supermarket of tomorrow, visit act.gp/smartsupermarket.
There are many people unable to grasp the harsh realities of the climate crisis because it feels too distant, whether they believe it is in the far-off future or in far-away places.
The harsh reality is that it is happening now and it is happening here.
One of the most tangible ways people can understand the state of our environment is to understand our waste.
Over-consumption has contributed to an overly wasteful society. We waste food, clothes, electronics, and just about everything we come into contact with. When we are done with something, these items find their forever homes in landfills (or the oceans, the rivers, the forests, etc.) where they will break down and continue to release harmful gases, further contributing to climate catastrophe.
It is about time we audited our consumption habits and how they are contributing to the harmful waste stream.
Introducing, Waste Reduction Week. A week that sheds light on our current consumer systems and urges action to reduce our waste. Each day of the week focuses on a different area of waste and we have added some tips on how to participate.
Monday: Circular Economy & Kick-Off
The first day of Waste Reduction Week highlights a large goal of the week itself. To achieve a circular economy, we must see our materials and products going back into the economy, rather than the landfill.
Some tips for a circular economy are;
The focus on textiles is meant to raise awareness for the energy that goes into the production of textiles and the environmental impact, both in production and disposal.
Some tips for tactical textiles are;
Wednesday: Champions & Innovators
This day highlights those who are disrupting traditional business models to advance waste reduction initiatives.
Some tips to take part are;
The production of plastic, especially single-use plastic, requires an incredible amount of unsustainable extractions and leaves harmful microplastics across our land, our water, and even inside of us. Reducing plastic is made possible through the adoption of a circular economy and driven by individual action.
Some tips to reduce your plastic are;
Friday: Food Waste
Food waste is a huge issue, especially from an environmental and social justice lens. When food is wasted, all of the time and resources that went into it's production is wasted.
A few tips to reduce your food waste are;
Saturday: Swap, Share, & Repair
Swapping, sharing, and repairing is not only good for the environment, but also good for community and your wallet! These methods help to extend product/material lifecycles and diverts them from disposal.
Some tips to swap, share, and repair are;
E-Waste in 2018 amounted to 44.7 million tonnes, with shockingly, only 20% of it being recycled. As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace and new innovative products are released each year, disposed electronics are on pace to be the largest waste stream in the world. If you're resisting that latest version of tech, we commend you!
Some E-Waste reduction tips include;
If you'd like to get involved in the Winnipeg environmental community during Waste Reduction Week, keep an eye out for upcoming events (like our build-a-bin workshop on October 24th)!
Have you heard of vermicomposting or worm composting?
It is a process where Red Wriggler worms turn food waste into a nutrient-rich naturalizer (worm manure!). It's an easy way to turn garbage into a valuable resource.
One of the biggest benefits to vermicomposting is that it can be done INDOORS - perfect for an apartment. It's quick, easy, doesn't smell, produces natural fertilizer, and it can reduce your waste.
About 40% of household waste can be composted, so the extra effort to compost can reduce the waste that ends up in our landfills, significantly!
Ready to get started?!
What you'll need:
1. Red Wriggler Worms
Collect your worm food in a container and feed your worms once or twice a week. To help break down the food as quickly as possible, you can cut the food into small pieces. Storing it in the freezer also helps break it down and reduces any odours from the stored food. Just thaw the food before feeding it to your worms.
To feed your worms, simply bury the food under the bedding and the worm manure/castings.
It's THAT easy!
If you have any further questions about vermicomposting, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday April 22, 2018
There are many ways you can participate in Earth Day 2018 to help make the world a cleaner, more environmentally friendly place. Here are some fun events going on around our great city! Whatever you do, be sure to share it with us by using the hashtag #greenpeacewpg or tagging @greenpeacewpg in your photos!
Join us for live entertainment, environmental workshops and exciting outdoor activities. Help us celebrate the planet with lessons in sustainability, special programming at FortWhyte Farms and a chance to explore the site at no cost — admission is free all day!
Assiniboine Park Zoo:
We are celebrating Earth Day with not one, but TWO action packed days of family fun at the Zoo. Be an environmental superhero and learn about conservation and what you can do at home, at school, at work and in your communities to be kind to our earth!
Oak Hammock Marsh:
Join us for a events such as a Compost Tour, Cache-in Trash out Walk and an Un-Nature Trail Game. You can learn the benefits of wetlands to our environment with various demonstrations, films and presentations. Lastly come craft something useful for the birds using recyclable items!
After a few beautiful days in Winnipeg, it is starting to feel like Spring is in the air. That calls for some Spring cleaning and getting your garden ready for growing season!
If your goal is to create a beautiful garden while reducing water use and eliminating the need for synthetic herbicides and pesticides, follow some of these tips to get you started.
Choose plants and grasses native to your area
Check out www.veggiedelight.ca/ to see the vegetables doing best on the banks of the Red River.
Choose flowers, trees, ground cover and vegetables over a monoculture grass lawn (think of the bees)
To add some flowers, try pussy toes, wild bergamot, coneflower, three flowered avens, black-eyed Susan, and wild iris.
Use less water
Let rain water your yard as much as possible. If you must water your lawn and garden, do so in the early morning or at night to prevent evaporation.
Choose certified organic potting soil and seeds
Consider using organic potting soil and seeds to avoid genetic engineering and toxic chemicals.
Avoid gas-powered equipment like lawn mowers and leaf blowers
Gas-powered equipment is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. Try using manual, electric or even solar-powered lawn equipment when possible.
Avoid pavement where possible
Natural ground cover absorbs groundwater, while rainwater that lands on hard surfaces like pavement can drag toxins into lakes and rivers.
Choose organic pest and weed control
Synthetic pesticides and herbicides can be harmful to the environment and your family. Keep bugs and weeds away naturally by manually weeding your garden, companion planting, and putting bird seed in your garden.
If you'd like more information, come out on March 31st to our sustainable gardening workshop. Find details here.
Or go to www.yougrowgirl.com - a web resource and forum for lateral, organic gardeners who want to experiment, play, and develop a refined appreciation for everything that grows.
This month's event is happening on January 27th, 2018 with a film screening of the documentary 'Demain'/'Tomorrow'. --> Get your tickets here.
To prepare for the event, I wanted to provide some insight into the film and the environmental state of tomorrow.
After the publication of a study which outlined the potential demise of the human race and a world where food, water, and oil would be scarce, the creators of 'Tomorrow' felt it was their responsibility to inform the world.
They knew they could not approach this harsh reality head on, as it would leave most people feeling entirely powerless and render the cause as hopeless. So they took on the environmental crisis in small increments, only to find that the answers were already there.
Tomorrow sets out to showcase alternative and creative ways to view agriculture, economics, energy and education. It offers constructive solutions that can be implemented on a local scale in order to make a difference on a global scale. In showing these small and easy changes that individuals are able to make, it can restore a sense of agency and contribute to a positive shift within society.
Tomorrow is the beginning of a movement seeking to encourage individuals and communities around the world to change the way they live for the sake of our planet.
What are you going to do today, for tomorrow?
This film will help to educate and inspire with ideas and systems that are already working around the world. It should be approached with optimism and the understanding that each person must be part of the change. Try looking for things that you can implement in your home, your office, and your community.
We will be having an open environmental discussion after the film and we would love to hear your thoughts on 'tomorrow' and what you want to do about it today.
Environmental changes to make today:
See you on Saturday!
It is no secret that consumption of animal products has a harmful impact on the environment. During the holiday season, consumption of these products are at an all time high with traditional foods like turkey, egg nog, ham, gravy, and those milk & cookies for Santa.
At a time when animal consumption is high, it is that much more important to make an effort to reduce YOUR impact. One of the best ways to do that is by having a plant-based holiday feast.
Our guide will give you recipes and tips to switch out animal based recipes for plant-based versions and how to make a vegan feast DELICIOUS for everyone.
Plant-Based Breakfast Recipes
Spiced Hot Fruit Bake
Overnight Vegan Pecan Sticky Buns
Vegan Coffee Cake
Leek and Broccoli Vegan Tartlets
Vegan Gingerbread Pancakes
Potato, Mushroom, and Kale Hash Skillet
Holiday Snacks and Baking Recipes
Cranberry and Thyme Vegan Cheese Ball
Vegan Sausage Rolls
Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies
No Bake Vegan Eggnog Bites
Christmas Tree Spinach Dip Breadsticks (using vegan butter, cream cheese, and cheese)
Salted Almond Chocolate Truffles
Plant-Based Holiday Dinner Recipes
Lentil Loaf with Balsamic Onion Gravy
Cranberry Almond Spinach Salad
Quinoa Stuffed Squash with Walnuts and Pomegranate
Vegan Mushroom Gravy
Baked Cauliflower and Spicy Lentils
Festive Hasselback Potatoes
Vegan Holiday Dessert Recipes
Gingerbread Chocolate Mousse
Cinnamon White Chocolate Cheesecake
We hope you found this list helpful!
Wishing you a very happy holiday and a delicious (plant-based) feast.
- Your friends at GreenPeace Winnipeg
From Black Friday to Cyber Monday, this weekend was heavily based on consumerism. It was fuelled by competitive sales and the impending doom of the holiday shopping rush.
So how can you go about your holiday gifting while being green?
We have your Holiday Guide to Green Gifting right here! Full of tips and tricks to reduce your environmental impact this holiday season.
Where to Buy.
It is always best to shop locally, all year round. This does not mean going to your 'local' mall for gifts, it means supporting locally sourced, made, and sold products. Shopping locally will open your eyes to the incredible makers we have in Winnipeg, from macrame plant hangings to gorgeous pottery, all made in this amazing city.
Some of my favourite spots to shop would be:
What to Buy/Make.
One of the biggest problems with presents, especially toys, is the amount of packaging they come in. Once everything is unwrapped and the packaging is finally off, you are left with a big pile of trash. Try finding toys with recyclable packaging, reusable packaging, or no packaging at all. This can be achieved through buying second hand or from local makers.
Another issue is the break and buy cycle. This happens when you purchase cheap items that will soon after break and it will be more cost effective to purchase another rather than fixing it. To avoid this, make purchases of quality products that will last the test of time. It may be more expensive, but it will be more worth it for the person, as well as the planet.
You must also consider what the person will use. If you buy them something you know they probably won't use or touch, it may not be worth it. Consider getting them something of necessity to ensure it will be used for years to come. Another approach is to replace something they already use with a green alternative, such as reusable food containers, travel mugs, or washable snack bags.
The other option is of course to make it yourself.
DIY holiday gift ideas include:
How To Wrap it
Wrapped presents typically result in a pile of ripped apart paper, ribbons, and bows covering the floor. Where does it end up? The garbage. Using Holiday bags as opposed to gift wrap is a good way to re-use packaging every season, but there are other ways to ensure your gifts are being given in recyclable and reusable materials.
In the season of giving, give to those less fortunate, give back to the community, and give to the earth that gives so much to you.
This Tuesday is #GivingTuesdayCa, so donate your time, your skills, or your money to the causes you care about.
Hi, I'm Nicole. I work as a sustainable transportation project coordinator at a local environmental non-profit. I am keen on photography, cycling, eating delicious food, tending to my plants, and helping the environment.