Reach for The Top – Recycler!

Each year, schools continue to exceed recycling goals, recycling more and more beverage containers! We would like to congratulate all schools that participated in MMSB’s School Recycling Program in 2013-14, collectively recycling more than 14.4 million beverage containers and raising more than $1.5 million in recycling refunds and matching grants provided by MMSB. 

We have two top recycling schools for the 2013-14 school year that have both reinvested these funds in a wide variety of environmental and educational initiatives.

Click here for a complete list of top recycling schools in Eastern, Central, Western and Labrador regions of the province.

Mount Pearl Intermediate leads the way with more than 774,000 containers collected in 2013-14. “Connected, Contributing and Capable” is their motto. With the school’s Green Team taking charge, students are reminded to recycle through school announcements, posters and contests. Funds collected through the recycling program are used to continue the growth of environmental education programs and support current recycling efforts. And with the New Year, comes big plans to boost recycling at Mount Pearl Intermediate, with more blitzes and green team recruitment on the agenda.

MPI-recycling

 St. Anne’s School in South East Bight tops the chart for the most beverage containers recycled per student – with more than 3,500 containers recycled per student! This small school makes a big difference by making recycling a way of life and working with local community residents who are eager to help support the students. St. Anne’s School has reaped the rewards of recycling by funding a new school playground, educational field trips and an outdoor garden where students learn to grow plants and harvest vegetables. At St. Anne’s School, recycling is not just about the refund, it’s about building a strong sense of community and together growing their environmental commitment.

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Environmental awareness has become top priority for schools throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. School-coordinated recycling blitzes and student-led awareness activities showcase the importance of recycling and empower youth to make positive efforts to protect our environment.

Eco-Fashion Forward in 2015!

Every year on January 1st we are given a clean slate to start a new year with fresh ideas and promises to make ourselves happier and healthier.  Like many of you, as the New Year approaches, I like to pinpoint a few things in my life that I’d like to improve and then write a list of New Year’s resolutions to help keep me focused throughout the year.

This year I wanted my resolutions to also reflect my passion for the environment.  So, I’ve decided my goal for 2015 is to makeover my shopping habits and add a little green to my personal style.  I can’t lie, I love shopping and I love nice things, but I also love this beautiful planet.  And while I’ve embraced the environment in basically every other aspect of my life, it’s only fitting that my next step would be to make my personal style “go green.” So in 2015, I’m going to become an eco-fashionista!

A guide to eco-friendly fashionable finds:

To help connect us to our inner “green” throughout 2015, I’ve compiled a list of eco-savvy fashion resolutions: 

Shop Local – Help protect the environment and support the local economy by shopping at local stores. The selection of independent clothing shops across the province is impressive – make it your goal to shop local first.  

  • Johnny Ruth and Living Planet – This shop in downtown St. John’s is stocked with ethically-made, stylish clothing and accessories.
  • Cycle Solutions – This shop in Corner Brook features sustainably sourced Merino wool dresses, jackets, sweaters and more.

Go Vintage – Let your style evolve to include pieces that are new and old. Classics never go out of style so I’m going to look to fashions of the past to update my wardrobe.

  • Model Citizens – This dynamic shop has fashionable vintage and designer pieces for resale and is constantly adding new stock to their collection.  Be sure to check out their online store.

ModelCitizens

  • Beach House Vintage –  This little treasure is worth finding in Pasadena and features high-quality vintage clothing and accessories sourced from across Atlantic Canada.

Think Consignment – Fashion-forward consignment shops are popping up all over the place, allowing the fashion-savvy to reduce, reuse and recycle and prove that great style and quality don’t have to come at full price.

Donate – Make ‘Item in, item out’ your new closet policy. When you fall in love with a new item, pledge to remove something else from the wardrobe and donate it.

Thrift Stores – Thrift shops can be found throughout the province and will happily accept your donation of gently-used clothing.  While you’re there, be sure to check out their selection – you may find the perfect accessory to jazz up an old outfit.

Shop Your ClosestRediscover long-lost friends hiding in your closet and learn to love them again, and let go of some old friends that you don’t keep in touch with anymore.

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Quality Over Quantity – Shop for classic, quality pieces that will stand the test of time. And get to know a garment before purchasing – reading a label will tell you where a piece was made and the fabric that was used.

Be a Trendsetter – Don’t let the latest trends dictate what you should be wearing. Start with the basics and add a couple of funky accessories to start your very own trends.  

  • Whink – Rely on their fashion-forward style to help you select accessories from their trendy and classic jewellery lines.
  • Twisted Sisters Boutik – Featuring jewellery and accessories by independent Canadian designers.

Swap – Host a clothing swap party. They’re a great way to exchange threads with friends and have a little fun at the same time. Be sure to donate any unwanted items.

What an exciting challenge I have ahead of me! I look forward to sharing my eco-styling journey with you throughout 2015!

Entertain the Environment this Christmas

Sitting alongside the Christmas tree in a house bustling with family and friends, the warmth from the wood stove and snow gently falling on the window sill – that is what Christmas means to me.

With Christmas just days away, I think of my childhood – my Mom busily decorating, baking cookies and cleaning the house in preparation for visiting family and friends. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; I just love holiday entertaining.

Planning the Perfect Party

Leading up to Christmas, time is precious and planning the perfect Christmas party can certainly seem overwhelming, especially while trying to minimize waste in the process. But keeping the environment top of mind will ensure you successfully entertain both guests and the natural environment this holiday season.

Preparation is key.  Why spend money on gadgets you may never use again when everything you need is already tucked away somewhere in a cupboard, drawer or box that you haven’t seen in a while. 

Plan ahead.  People appreciate a heads-up, so skip the paper invites and create your Christmas party Facebook event or send an an e-invite. Ask people to RSVP to make it easier to plan your menu and reduce unnecessary waste.

Waste Reduction on the Menu

Setting the menu is always a challenge – and considering that up to 30 percent of the food you buy ends up in the garbage, a well planned menu can help cut costs and waste.

Tried, tested and true.  Stick with familiar recipes that can save you time and help reduce food waste. Hamburger dip is a crowd pleaser at my house.

Hamburger-Dip-Recipe

Up with the birds. The day of the party, start preparing early.  This avoids rushing to clean up which can sometimes lead to throwing things away unnecessarily.  If you prepare extra, consider freezing it for your own family; leftovers are always great during the busy holidays. 

Reduce, Reuse Recycle.  Before you head to the grocery store, grab your reusable shopping bags.  Buy in bulk if you are preparing for a large crowd and purchase items that can be recycled.

Everything in moderation.  Guests enjoy variety, but be careful not to go overboard. Choose five or six appetizers and you are set. And don’t forget to compost all those organic food scraps.

 A Table Set for Sustainable Success

A beautifully decorated table during the holidays will complement any menu.  

Be Real.  Make paper and Styrofoam dishes a thing of the past.  Use real dishes and cutlery to impress guests while cutting waste and don’t forget the cloth napkins – spice up your display with this great idea from Kate at Apartment Therapy

Hidden Treasures.  You never know what you’ll find in the shed.  Check out this old piece of wood that showed up in a load of firewood one day – this year it’s showcasing as a serving platter!

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Make Do.  Christmas decorations can do double duty.  Use what you have and move it around your house for entertaining purposes.  Christmas bulbs in a glass vase or bowl makes a great centrepiece!  

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Go Natural.  Look to your own backyard – nothing says Christmas like pine cones and the smell of fresh fir trees.  Find great inspiration for pine cone centrepieces at Digs Digs or learn how to turn pine cones into place card holders at Wedding News Day.

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Eat, Drink and Recycle!

Curled up in the coziest patchwork quilt, watching a Claymation Christmas classic and wielding a cup full of my favorite holiday beverage…  that reminds me.

While eating, drinking and being merry – let’s remember to recycle our beverage containers.

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A Grown-up Guide to Christmas Recycling:

  • Irish Coffee perking up your holiday decorating? You can recycle those brown glass liqueur bottles at the Green Depot.
  • Hot Toddy keeping you warm? Recycle whiskey, brandy and bourbon bottles at the Green Depot.
  • Circling the punch bowl at the holiday party? Recycle steel pineapple juice cans and 2L pop bottles.
  • Celery and Caesar kicking off cocktail hour? Toss the steel tomato juice cans in the recycling bin.
  • Eggnog filling your holiday cup? No problem. You’ve paid a deposit – recycle the carton at the Green Depot.
  • Sipping on a fancy imported beer during the holiday season? Remember, return your imported beer bottles to the Green Depot for a refund. (Return domestic beer bottles to a retailer or brewers’ depot).
  • Wine with your cheese? Wine bottles and bag-in-a-box wine can also be returned to the Green Depot.

recyclebeveragecontainersCan’t find your favourite holiday spirit on the list? Visit mmsb.nl.ca for a complete list of beverage containers accepted at your nearest Green Depot.  And remember, whether your glass is half full or half empty, make sure your bottles ARE empty before returning them to your nearest Green Depot.

And my favourite holiday beverage? A steaming cup of hot cocoa of course, in a reusable mug!

ps. If you plan to leave milk for Santa, recycle the cartons at the curb if a curbside recycling program is available in your community. Milk cartons are not included in MMSB’s Beverage Container Recycling Program and therefore not accepted at a Green Depots.

Sweet Treats All Wrapped Up

Two of my favourite things – Christmas and baking.  So when the holidays come, a sugary rush takes over as I begin sprinkling cinnamon, sugar and Christmas cheer in my mixing bowl.  And wrapping my Christmas treats into sweet little packages has always been a part of the fun.

When I first started my annual holiday baking regime, I’d wrap my cookies in wasteful little cellophane Christmas bags, not considering their environmental impact. But these days, I’m sure to add some environment-friendly creativity to my gift wrap ingredient list. 

Last year, as I measured my baking and decorating requirements, I looked no further than my collection of glass jars gathering dust in the basement (I knew they’d come in handy one day). So after my gingersnaps, sugar cookies and shortbread had cooled, I placed them neatly in those old jars, decorated them with ribbon salvaged from last year’s gifts and labeled them using old Christmas cards.  It felt good to use all those things I’d been hoarding (and prove to my husband they were worth storing!).

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Cookies-in-Jars

Over the years I found some fun ways to wrap up my sweet treats, and I thought I’d share a few ideas to inspire you:

Be sure to check out last year’s Gifts in Jars and Sustainably Sweet blog posts  for more great ideas on how you can make culinary gifts to satisfy the palate of everyone on your list!

So, when you’re baking this holiday season, find creative and waste-free ways to wrap your sweet treats and you’ll be sure to impress even the jolly old elf himself!

Here’s my gift to all of you this Christmas – my family’s gingersnap recipe. Enjoy!

Gingersnap-Cookie-Recipe

Deck the Halls with… Boughs of Holly!

It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of holiday shopping, with all its glitz and sparkle to tempt your Christmas-loving senses.  So easy, in fact, that a trip to the store for a few simple Christmas decorations can leave you feeling less than festive, as you wade through the resulting plastic, packaging and waste.  I can attest; I’ve been there. This year, in an attempt to keep Christmas simple, I’m keeping Christmas natural.

The lyrics of the classic Christmas carol still ring true today.  Deck the halls with boughs of holly!  That seems pretty doable – just go outside and snip a few branches.  If you’re not lucky enough to have a holly bush at your disposal, try using cedar branches or take a walk in the woods and see what kinds of greenery, cones and berries you can find.  Use your scavenged treasures to make a wreath, centrepiece, tree ornament or anything else you can dream up. 

Here are some natural Christmas decorations you can try making, or simply use as inspiration for your own holiday creations:  

Simple Pine Cone Tree Ornaments – If you can cut string, tie a bow and use a glue gun without burning your fingers, you’re crafty enough for this simple Christmas tree ornament from Ashley at Make It and Love it.

P.S. When crafting with cones, it’s a good idea to bake them first to keep insects and sap from messing up your work.

CA---PineConeOrnament

Natural Floating Christmas Candle – This one from Better Homes and Gardens is pretty simple – just add greenery, colourful berries and a floating candle to a mason jar of water and, voila – floating Christmas candle!  Use beeswax or soy candles to keep it natural and preserve indoor air quality.

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Experience the Gift of Green

With Christmas fast approaching, there’s one task on everyone’s minds—finding the perfect gift. How will Santa make this Christmas exceptional and keep smiles on children’s faces all while leaving behind a minimal environmental footprint from his sleigh? My shopping list may be short: mom, dad, dog, but I can share some insight on gifts that make a lasting impression. 

It seems like yesterday that I was waking up at 4 a.m. screaming SANTA! But growing up, I didn’t have the same world views or concern for the environment or for the amount of waste generated during Christmas as I do today. I was unaware of the excess packaging on my toys – all the wrapping paper, Styrofoam and hundreds of plastic twist ties sealing away those Christmas presents that at the time meant so much. It was about having the biggest and best toys. 

Now, I realize none of that really mattered. The gifts I truly cherished were those I did not ask for. When I reflect on my favourite Christmas memories, they don’t include toy trucks or Lego sets, they’re the tickets to a hockey game that turned into a family outing and a handmade quilt that makes me feel at home, even when I’m away from home. I never realized these gifts would mean so much. 

This holiday season I encourage you to give gifts that will last a lifetime of memories. 

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Gift Ideas
  • The Gift of Giving – Give a gift that can help improve the lives of others. Find what is near and dear to your heart – give in lieu of a gift to someone, give in addition to a gift or simply just give.
  • Think Global – Shop Local – Explore craft fairs and markets and support local businesses.
  • Pawsitive Presents – If you are like me, with a dog on your Christmas list, keep these simple tips in mind for a pawsitive impact on the planet this holiday season (these may also apply to two-legged family members).
  • It’s Easy Giving Green – Respect the Environment; by giving gifts that are environmentally conscious, that have less packaging and a smaller footprint on the earth.
  • The Gift of Experience – Whether its a weekend getaway at a quaint B&B or a sharing a snowshoe adventure on your favourite trail, make memories with family and friends! Give a gift that will stand out from the rest, be appreciated and create a lasting memory to cherish for years to come – a gift truly low on waste but big on impact! 

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That Reminds Me

I took my two young children for a nature walk last weekend and watched in wonder as they stopped to collect little pine cones and pebbles and stuff them into their jacket pockets, then pull them out again and toss them in the river. As they toddled and skipped along, I smiled and thought “this is what it’s all about.” Following behind, watching as they enjoyed Mother Nature, I thought about our community and how lucky we are to have this beautiful walking trail so close to our home.

Now, THAT reminds me.

When we returned home, I prepared a snack for the kids and poured juice into their cups. As I emptied the container, my mind flashed back to our morning walk and I was reminded of something very important. I quickly placed the empty bottle into the recycling bin. I knew this little action would make a difference and help ensure that my little ones continue to enjoy nature walks in a pristine and respected environment.  Everyone has a different reason for recycling and reducing waste, mine is protecting the environment for my children’s future.

PBD park     Adia

So, what reminds you?

For some people, it’s helping fundraise for youth sports teams and local charities. For others, it’s the cash in their pockets.   

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Building Sustainability

Office Tower Waste Reduction Soars to New Heights in Downtown St. John’s

East Port Properties Limited and its tenants at Scotia Centre are making heroic strides, implementing meaningful and measurable workplace waste diversion practices – and achieving success every step along the way.

scotia-tower

Located on Water Street in downtown St. John’s, NL, Scotia Centre is an 11-storey building that is home to more than 190,000 square feet of office space and more than 350 employees.  As you would expect, a building of this size can generate a significant amount of waste over the course of a year.  And with a commitment to measure the numbers annually, East Port Properties was determined to let nothing go to waste.

With successful recycling programs for paper and cardboard, beverage containers and toner cartridges already in place, it was second nature for the tenants at Scotia Centre to step up and incorporate even more waste diversion initiatives into their daily work routine.  Some highlights include:

  • introducing a fluorescent light bulb recycling program in 2008;
  • launching a battery recycling initiative in 2009;
  • adding mixed containers to their current recycling program in 2011; and
  • offering an electronic waste recycling program in 2012.

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Just Get Out!

In Newfoundland and Labrador, June has probably been more of a “Good”Outdoors Month as opposed to a Great Outdoors Month. Nonetheless, growing up in Newfoundland & Labrador, we have been surrounded by one of the most beautiful places in the world – you don’t have to go very far past your front door to enjoy the finest that Mother Nature has to offer.  

And, as good turns to great – many of us are looking to get out and explore.  Here are our top five ways to enjoy the great outdoors:

1.  Start a veggie garden – Spend time outside while learning to grow your own food. Start small with a raised bed or some containers. Try a planting a few rows of peas, carrots and some leaf lettuce – learn as you go – be sure to connect with the knowledgeable folks at your local garden centre for growing tips.

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 2. Visit a park – With 3 National Parks, 13 Provincial Parks, 7 Natural and Scenic Attraction Provincial Parks, 10 Provincial Park Reserves, a Waterway Provincial Park and the T’Railway Provincial Park – there really is something for everyone! Click here for a list of parks, rivers and natural areas in our province.

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