October was Circular Economy Month in Canada, and it showed up in St. John’s.
October 15 was a glorious sunny Sunday. Perfect for the inaugural Zero Waste Festival. The event took place at the Centre des Grands-Vents on Ridge Road - a community centre and a school operated by the Association communautaire francophone de Saint-Jean (ACFSJ). Project lead was St. John's Tool Library with funding support from MMSB.
It was a day-long, milestone event that brought different parts of the sustainability community together for the first time. There were speakers, demonstrations, workshops, a market, food vendors and hundreds of people coming together to look for ways to live more sustainably.... and they found them.
Oddly and interestingly, the most remarkable thing about the Zero Waste Festival was that at the end, when it was all said and done, there was next to nothing left for the landfill. Obviously given the intent of the event, it shouldn't have been surprising, but it was so different from typical event break-down, it was!
Festival participants found dozens of ways to get closer to zero waste!
The event launched at 11 with greetings from representatives of the organizing committee Etienne Vuilliaume, Charley Mini, and Audrey Parnell. Provincial Minister Sarah Stoodley and Jill Bruce from City of St. John's voiced their support and delight in the Festival.
Throwing useful things to the landfill goes against the nature of many in Newfoundland and Labrador, but people are challenged by what to do with things that aren't part of the regular recycling pick-up.
The Zero Waste Festival had answers!
The joy on the faces of people dropping ¼ lb of aluminum pop tabs into the right bin was a sight to behold! They will do good for people as wheelchair materials through Pop Tabs for Wheelchairs.
Here’s the full list of Materials Recovery Stations at the Festival. The goal is for this station to be set up permanently at the St. John’s Tool Library, so people can bring their materials for recovery during Library opening hours.
People were so happy to bring in materials for recovery! In just a couple of hours more than 157 lb was collected, including very very lightweight items like aluminum pop tabs! Seven pounds were collected! Batteries were the biggest weight, at about 98 lb.
The Grands-Vents gymnasium was wall to wall with more than 20 community businesses and organizations who shared information, insights, products and services to help make a more sustainable lifestyle possible. It was a mini-marketplace bustling with eco- conscious vendors offering sustainable products, plastic-free alternatives, zero waste essentials, and locally sourced goods.
The message was clear - we have what we need in St. John's to create much less waste!
Guide to the Good played a role in organizing the event and was excited to be repping Guide to the Good ChangeMakers.
The focus of the day were businesses who have a specific role to play in helping people create less waste, and helping create community through quality products and services that are re-used, repaired, recreated, restored, or created to last.
Either way, it's so so much less to the landfill.
To get the good energy flowing, Guide to the Good created a great game specifically for the Zero Waste Festival.
Hello / Bonjour Guide to the Good Go Zero Trivia Challenge in English and French!
The goal of the game was to identify a dozen or so companies that help residents live a lower footprint just by doing what they do. From donating and buying used building materials to a good use for used linens to a restorative, zero-waste vacation - it's all here. Players used QR codes linked to the Guide to the Good website to find the answers for the entry form.
The Go Zero Prize Pack was worth hundreds of dollars! A happy zero-waste enthusiast Nicolai von Oppeln Bronikowski was the winner of the prize pack.
But you can still test your knowledge here - Click here to play!
Good conversations kept going around through the day! Visitors and vendors exchanged ideas and information all with the goal of leaving less.
The Bee’s Knees sold goods like laundry sheets that make zero waste possible in the home. Again & Again Furniture and Decor Thrift shared their work - they restore and upcycle furniture and housewares, and they do amazing craft work, including spinning wool.
Tech start-up founder and data scientist Heather Zurel of Data Farms showed how her company helps reduce food waste BIG TIME, with sensors that monitor crop conditions.
Newfoundsand Glass Recycling Co-op shared the vision of a province where household glass is recycled and re-used.
The Outfitters showed much of their stuff that let’s people enjoy the outdoors with a small little footprint, and Bern from The Bee Sisters brought gorgeous t-shirt quilts that made less waste and celebrated moments of a child’s life.
Reps from The East Coast Trail were on hand to share the how-to of the trail system.
Right on the spot, Marilyn Bessey helped kids (and adults) make carry-bags out of t-shirts!
There was also face painting, kid crafts, and a little playground for kids to play.
The Zero Waste Festival Committee was so happy to have support and cooperation to strive for zero waste from food service providers.
Food prepared by Cojones and Mama Africa was served on trays that were washed and reused on site. People were asked to bring their own containers if they wanted take-away, and Planeet Consulting set up an on-site food material recovery station in the cafeteria. It all went full circle!
Using the leftover organics (food but there wasn't much - it was too yummy!), Viviana Ramirez-Luna of Planeet took visitors through the process of small-scale composting.
The sunshine, the great outdoors, and the Grands-Vents facility with its small-scale compost system made for a perfect environment for the live composting demo. (Side note - anyone who is a member of the ACFSJ Community can bring their organics to the bins, and receive compost).
Three workshops helped participants build skills that lead to less waste. There was clothes mending with East Coast Quilt Co., recycled rug hooking with Hooked Creations NL, and bicycle maintenance with East Coast Groms.
Participants LOVED the feeling of learning to do things with their own hands.
The Festival featured an impressive line-up of speakers. Shelly Pardy from the City of St. John’s shared lots of unknown facts about the Robin Hood Bay Waste Management Faciility. Julia Canning and Mfon Oton spoke about the MMSB’s efforts in public education and waste diversion programs. Charly Mini of the ACFSJ shared his insight and experience about the community composting program at the Centre.
The St. John's Zero Waste Festival came together to help community realize there are real, practical things to do and choices to make that will make a difference.
Right here at home, there are options for everyday choices for purchase and lifestyle that leave zero waste!
And bring joy. Newfoundland Floral Design brought much joy to festival participants with random acts of flowers!
The full-day of events was wrapped up in song. The Francophone Association choir, La Rose des vents, gave an uplifing performance in the theatre to close off the 1st Zero Waste Festival.
The Zero Waste Festival was an initiative of the St. John's Tool Library. The organizing commitee included co-chairs Etienne Vuilliaume and Audrey Parnell, with Sabrine Adjinakou (Horizon TNL to August 2023), Charly Berrichon (ACFSJ), Dan O'Keeffe (SJTL), Mike Schultz (SJTL), Eric Tremblay (Horizon TNL), and Kim Todd (Guide to the Good).
Kim Todd is the founder of Guide to the Good, and being part of this Zero Waste Festival was really a dream come true. When thegreenrock, began, it was with a vision for a sustainable Newfoundland and Labrador. This was a giant step.
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