Category: Zero Waste

We are a group of a dozen or so Unitarians and friends who like to share our enthusiasm for reducing waste. We’re very open to your suggestions and support.

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Holiday Advice from Zero Waste Team

Zero Waste Forum November 27, 2022

Create Memories Not Garbage from Metro Vancouver

Gift suggestions:


Forum will be linked here.

The Christmas Pledge

Believing in the true spirit of Christmas, I commit myself to…
* Remember those people who truly need my gifts
* Express my love in more direct ways than gifts
* Examine my holiday activities in the light of my deepest values
* Be a peacemaker within my circle of family and friends
* Rededicate myself to my spiritual growth


Free Study Guide
A study guide to use with the book (Copyright ©1991 by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli) is available for free online.


Contact for more information







UnPlug the Christmas Machine



Tips for Reducing Food Waste this Festive Season

Enviro Page  →  Zero Waste Team  →  Reducing Food Waste

Laura Trotta: “Every time we throw food in the bin we’re not just wasting our money. We’re discarding the vast amounts of resources, energy and water that it took to produce, process, store, refrigerate, transport and cook the food.

Reducing food waste: photo of a vegan dish

Humous with veggies, orange segments and nigella seeds / Credit: Unsplash

Reducing food waste is one of the top five solutions to climate change listed in the New York Times bestseller “Drawdown…” While animal agriculture creates an estimated 18% of greenhouse gas emissions.

As we move through December and into the New Year, let’s remember to reduce food waste and to include vegan and vegetarian dishes in our Winter season feasting.

Suggested Links

Tips for Reducing Food Waste

Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes

Food and Climate Action

Foraging for Wild Mushrooms in Maple Ridge



reducing food waste: photo of mushroom hunters in a Maple Ridge forest

reducing food waste: photo of mushroom hunters in a Maple Ridge forest

Credit: Slow Food Vancouver

In the photos above, we find a group of friends engaging in an ancient (even timeless) human activity …foraging for mushrooms in a forest. They’re members of the Vancouver chapter of the Slow Food movement.

You might ask: What is Slow Food?

Slow Food is a global movement that pushes back against fast food and industrialized food systems. Its mission includes defending local food traditions, promoting artisanal foods and preserving food biodiversity.

The movement calls for tackling the climate crisis through the adoption of environmentally-friendly practices along all stages of the food supply chain, following a seed-to-landfill trajectory.

A brief foray into the shameful state of food waste in Canada today

At the intersection of food, conviviality, agriculture, social justice and everyday climate action … we conclude with a brief foray into the shameful state of food waste in Canada today.

According to Second Harvest: Each year, nearly 60% of all food produced in Canada is lost or wasted. That’s 35.5 tonnes of food, or nearly $50 billion, lost annually. Furthermore, organic material in landfills produces methane gas that’s 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide emissions.

Nova Scotia farmer Richard Melvin reluctantly throws away enough cauliflower to feed a province. Despite being “perfectly good to eat,” up to 40 per cent of his 36 hectares of cauliflower gets plowed back into the ground each year. He’s looking for financial help to give surplus crops to food-insecure Canadians.

photo of a farmer in field holding heads of cauliflower in each hand

Credit: Jacqueline Melvin

photo of worker tossing produce into a huge pile of wasted fruits and vegetables

Credit: Ben Nelms/Reuters

In Langley BC, a worker dumps “pre-consumer food waste” which is fed to black soldier fly larvae to produce animal feed, at Enterra Feed Corporation.

(Edible insects are promoted as a solution to future global food shortages. But critics argue that black soldier fly farming is not an ideal solution for global food waste because it entrenches industrial animal agriculture and diverts attention from deeper food systems transformation.)

Simon Fraser University food researcher Tammara Soma says blame the system for food waste on BC farms and not the farmer. The main problems include shoppers who won’t buy imperfect fruits and veggies, a global food system that creates rock-bottom prices for produce, a decline in local food processors, and a lack of incentives to give away surplus food.

Federal agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau would not answer the question when asked if Ottawa would consider funding to help farmers salvage crops that would otherwise go wasted.

Food Waste in Canada

The Facts

December food eco-challenge: graphic on food waste in Canada width=
December food eco-challenge: graphic on food waste in Canada


Join the People’s EcoChallenge Oct 5—26, 2022

👫🌎 welcome

The People’s Ecochallenge is a 21-day challenge to take action for a better shared future. From October 5 – October 26, you commit to trying and doing new things. Fun actions encourage new habits. Small steps lead to big change. Together, we build a sustainable world and a healthy planet.

The People’s Ecochallenge gamifies behaviour change and makes your impacts measurable! Think about and act on proven soutions through 100+ actions across nine categories.

Ecochallenge is free to join and everyone is welcome. Join our BC Unitarians team.

Go to for more posts and upcoming events


ZW Blog 1 – Recycling Masks and Making Compost

A quick audit check confirmed that only masks were in the box and not other garbage

ZW at UCV Blog Post 1 –
Recycling Masks and Creating Good Compost

If you  haven’t yet noticed, it but thanks to Karen Bartlett and Yvonne Marcus, we have a box where you can deposit used face masks. And yes, you can bring ones from home and add them. We’ve already filled one box and with congregational administrator, Casey’s, support, Karen is prepared to continue donating the cost and organizing getting a new box when one is full. It’s just inside Hewett Hall.

Karen says, “Thank you to Casey for being the point person to pass along the information when the box was ¾ full, giving us time to organize the new box.

Also thanks to everyone who is using the box. A quick audit check confirmed that only masks were in the box and not other garbage.”

You Can Do It! We Can Help!

Karen (and the ZW team) want to share this as a good example that anyone at UCV can take on a small project and “make it so.”

Here are some quotes found by googling “zero waste quotations” that were read at the start of our meeting. The theme is “just do it”! Or as Home Hardware says: You can do it. We can help

The world is changed by your example not by your opinion.

To do good you actually have to do something.

Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.

Waste is a design flaw.

If you have an idea related to zero waste and want to know how to go about it and who you might need to check in with, we’d be *very* happy to lend support!

It looks a little gross, but I guarantee that the red wriggler worms will appreciate this soup!

Compost bins. We’re about to enter “peak dry leaves” season when our stalwart gardeners rake up the barrels and barrels full of leaves.  As well as the bins for organic waste that go to the city, we have 6 round black bins with some hardy red wriggler worms in them that can, with a little help, create “black gold” compost for our gardens.  Mary Bennett has been chief compost enthusiast and worker, but got behind during the time we weren’t regularly meeting in person. We need your help to get the red wrigglers healthy and working again, and the key thing is they need some food (vegetable and fruit scraps especially, although they seem to love their coffee!) and, even more importantly, water.

Our team are all going to take turns taking out the green counter top bin in Hewett Centre on Sundays. A quick way to add moisture, is to fill it 2/3 or so full with water before taking out. (Full might make it difficult to walk easily without spilling). As well, we’re going to make a concerted effort over next month or two (before the damp weather returns) to regularly fill one of the tall white containers near Hitschmanova entrance with water and add to the bins.

Right now it’s very dry, so if you can help, you’ll find you’ll need to pour in slowly or add 1/4 of a bucketful to each of 4 bins.  You can do this any time you’re on site.

No meat or bones, but the red wrigglers are ok with napkins, coffee filters, (most) tea bags.

(Speaking of which, let’s not use the silky ones, ok?)

The black round bins are on the Fremlin (east) side adjacent to the lane. There’s one right near the city waste bins as well.




Cathy and Rosemary added some water to all the bins. (But they still need more. Please help. The worms, and the earth, will thank you.)
Mary ready to dump the bin from the office, having added water to help provide a drink to our thirsty red wriggler worms.
Step 2 – just dump in. If you had some fruit and vegetable waste and are able to add some of the dried leaves around the bins to cover that will help keep rodent-activity down.

More information about our Zero Waste (part of Enviro Team) Circle can be found here.

Zero Waste


Zero Waste Book Group

The BC Zero Waste Team has started a monthly one-hour zoom book club focused on books that relate to sustainability, zero waste etc.


Or send an email to

Zoom Link:

Open group. Registration appreciated.

It is open to any Unitarians in BC or even beyond.

A reminder and link details will be sent to members of the googlegroup.

Go to for more posts and upcoming events
Posted by Mary Bennett for the Zero Waste Team

Past books have included

Saving Us by Katherine Hayhoe

The Environmentalist’s Dilemma: Promise and Peril in an Age of Climate Crisis by Arno Kopecky

Zero Waste mini conference held at UCV: Plastic Free July – Ecochallenge


by Vivian Davidson

On July 3, 2022, the UCV environment team (Zero Waste group) met at the Unitarian Centre of Vancouver where over 10 people met in person and took in a varied Zoom Eco mini-conference with the input of other Unitarian Congregations, Beacon, North Shore and South Fraser.

Vancouver Unitarian Mary Bennett was moderator and time-keeper and did a very eloquent Chalice lighting with reading from Joanna Macy’s book Active hope.

The theme was Plastic Free July – Ecochallenge.

From the South Fraser Unitarian Congregation Donelda Henderson spoke about vegetable gardening and community food sharing; Dianne Dilts discussed how she makes yogurt and avoids plastic yogurt containers by using her own glass containers.

From the North Shore Unitarians, Shelley Hrdlitschka discussed the use of laundry strips while Shelley discussed compostable containers used by farmers. Barbara Kroon gave a very informative chat about home cleaning products and information about cornstarch containers.

And of course, getting to the source of where we buy products, the grocery store is an area where a lot of lobbying has to take place. So, to lead that discussion Teresa Morton from Beacon Unitarian Church shared a success story about Canadian Plastics Pact and the UN Plastics Pollution Treaty.

Towards the end of the event Vivian entertained a few questions about Reusable, single-use containers and cups as her video (link) was shared to those who RSVP’d to the meeting so they could formulate ideas and any questions they had. Several people in person and on Zoom shared how they take actions every day to reduce their reliance on single-use plastic items like taking their reusable mugs to cafes and bags to the grocery store.

Mary Bennett rounded up the event by sharing her use of ‘pee wipes’ and how it is much easier and user-friendly once one gets over the ‘oddity’ of it. It was mentioned by an in-person attendee that toilet paper is used mostly in Western countries but Asia and other parts of the world do not rely on it.

Other issues were discussed in conversations  including eating insects as a sustainable protein source; reducing one’s transporting foot print by commuting, biking and ride-sharing; being involved with community gardening and more ‘connected to nature’ and very importantly, making sure to encourage friends and family as much as possible by sharing tips, updates and one’s own habits to remind others that change is not hard and often simple solution go a long way to making our world more sustainable.

Links and resources from the meeting:

More information from Plastic Free July here:

One-minute video here:

Zero Waste Unitarian group on Facebook:

David Suzuki Queen of Green diy:

Canada Plastics Pact:

Go to for more posts and upcoming events


Contact if you have questions or want to get involved.


Zero Waste Circle – New for 2022

Want support for reducing waste?

We’re starting a short, monthly, check-in and sharing of successes and challenges. Join us on the 3rd Sunday at 12:30 pm or fill out this form to suggest other ideas:

Zero Waste Circle

a monthly, fairly social, definitely supportive zero waste circle check-in. We usually meet in the Family Room and most people bring their lunch to munch as we share.
We *might* come up with initiatives but it would be mainly those of us wanting to share successes, ask for support and ideas to meet each other and learn more about reducing waste.

Plan for each session

  • opening reading
  • check in – less than 1 minute – introduce yourself with a “success” (even an ongoing success – e.g. I’m still getting to London Drugs regularly to recycle all my plastic bags or I’m still paying attention to food waste and improving in that regard.)
  • 2nd round – something you’ve been struggling with and would like feedback from others.
  • UCV Action Planning and/or Education/sharing: A focus on an educational piece by one of the members.
  • Summarize action decisions
  • closing: reminder of future meetings and events
Leadership roles of facilitation, zoom hosting, note-taking if needed will be rotated.
It might even be a “gateway drug” towards more involvement with UCV in general and Enviro team in particular.
More information: contact
To join our email group, send a note to

Join the DECEMBER Food Eco‑Challenge

Enviro Page  →  Zero Waste Team  →  ZW Notebook → December EcoChallenge

It’s a beautiful idea to remind ourselves in December to feel gratitude for our food, and to be aware of food waste and the impact this has on our planet

Come join the Metro Vancouver Unitarian Food Ecochallenge in December by changing your habits and reducing food waste. Check-in to see how we’re lowering food waste during the challenge

*If you missed the start date, you can join any time. Just sign up below, or

eMail to connect with the Zero Waste Team


Would you commit to reducing your waste for just 30 days?

Enviro Page  →  Zero Waste Team  →  ZW Notebook → 30 Days

It takes 30 days to create a new habit

Photo: from SPEC’s Waste Reduction page

Zero Waste 30-Day Resolutions

By Mary Bennett

I recently watched this TED Talk by Matt Cutts suggesting we give up on New Year’s resolutions, and just try something new for 30 days. (It’s only three minutes!)

He says 30 days is the right amount of time to create a new habit by adding or subtracting something from your life. Matt is a software engineer (with big credentials). If you’re curious about his 30-day goals, here is Matt’s blog, and here are his credentials.

So for anyone who’s already broken or never made a New Year’s resolution this year, the Environment Committee’s Zero Waste Team would like to encourage you to give this 30-day commitment a try in the effort to reduce your use of single-use plastic. We all intend to bring our own bags and not use Styrofoam, take out cups or… well, you can fill in the blanks with your confession.

The Zero Waste Team got together after the Environment Committee sponsored a Sunday forum presented by Zero Waste Canada going over their program for how organizations can be certified as zero-waste. While people found the forum interesting, what followed a call for more suggestions on what individuals can do. Zero Waste Canada presented a pyramid with Rethink at the top and Recycle only half way down. As many of us know, we can experience a moment of feeling virtuous (well deserved) when we sort our garbage and make sure all the recyclables go into the right bin, but they—and I—think rethinking how we live our lives is the first order of business.

We plan to offer a one-day Zero Waste workshop at the church in the spring. In the meantime, we’re going to offer some suggestions for small steps you—and we—can take to change some of our habits.

We invite you to join us in creating SMART goals for Waste Reduction.

SMART goals are

S – Specific: Goal explains clearly exactly what you want to accomplish
M – Measurable: Has measurable results
A – Achievable: Clarity about how the goal could be accomplished
R – Relevant – Related to waste reduction
T – Time-bound: 30 days

Here are some suggestions gleaned from various posts about reducing single-use plastic. We hope you’ll join us in deciding to add or subtract something for the next 30 days—and maybe start a new habit.

  • At restaurants ask for your beverage by adding “No straw” or bring your own stainless steel straw.
  • Carry your own container to restaurants so you can avoid their Styrofoam or plastic ones.
  • Take mesh bags for putting produce in when you shop.
  • Find and buy toilet paper that is not wrapped in plastic. (And please let me know where you found it.)
  • Use reusable cloths instead of paper towels.

Is there something you’re prepared to do differently for the next 30 days? Pick one of the above (or create your own) and let us know:

Some References

Eight Single-Use Plastic Items You Can Quit Right Now

Queen of Green’s Local Recommendations for Green Newbies

SPEC BC — Note: We plan to continue to have a representative from our team attend their monthly meetings.

The Vancouver Unitarian Zero-Waste Team is: Mary Bennett, Mairy Beam, Eleanore Dunn, Randall MacKinnon, Sandy Riecken, Cathy Sevcik, Teresa Morton. You could join us! Our plan is to focus on actions more than meetings and fun as much as work.

Buy Nothing Groups Are Now All Over Vancouver

Enviro Page  →  Zero Waste Team  →  ZW Notebook → Buy Nothing


Above: Meet your neighbours while buying nothing

Buy Nothing Groups are now in every neighbourhood in Vancouver, and many areas beyond the city as well.

They’ve been growing both in membership and number of groups since March 2020, many doubling in size in six months from the start of the pandemic.

Cayla introduced Mary to the Buy Nothing Project in early 2019, after meeting at the womens’ gathering.



Above: Buy Nothing Champions Cayla (left) and Mary (right)

It began with one group and 81 members. Three years later, there are five groups in Kitsilano with nearly 3,000 members.

Cayla and Mary are now administrators on their respective neighbourhood Buy Nothing groups, Marpole and Kitsilano North East.

These are facebook groups where people give stuff away, ask for what they need, and express their gratitude.

Importantly, expressions of gratitude are what keeps community building in the forefront.

In 2019, CityTV visited a Buy Nothing “free store” that Mary coordinated. (You can view the Youtube video above.)

Kitsilano is the largest group in Vancouver and has recently helped to mentor volunteers and promote new groups in West Point Grey and Dunbar-Kerrisdale.

Do you want to declutter without contributing to the landfill?

If you’ve ever frequented, or have ever fantasized about, a “free store” here’s a way to try it out.

Janice Doyle with small cook set for hiking trips

Above: At Buy Nothing Kitsilano, Janice is happy her little camp stove (bought 40 years ago) will find a new home. Many years ago she and her husband purchased an outdoors cook set for hiking trips. It comes a part so you have a kettle, fry pan, sauce pan, and a little gas cooker

You can find a group in British Columbia by going to Buy Nothing BC on Google Maps.

image links to google maps buy nothing bc

Google Maps / Buy Nothing BC

*Note: The story was first published in January 2021 and updated January 2022. Cayla and Mary have both stepped down as admins but remain enthusiastic members of their Buy Nothing groups.