Crowdsource clean up :Mapping illegal dumpsites

trash-193355_640Mapping illegal dumpsites, litter and plastic pollution is a method that allows individuals to be environmental activists.

Mapping sites where illegal dumping, litter or plastic pollution is a problem brings a dirty secret into the public forum. It not only documents location, type and amount of materials but it helps to organize logistics for clean up. Mapping helps track reoccurring issues, and also it helps us to analyse the causes of waste not being disposed or recycled properly. Mapping also shows the real extent of the problem.

TrashOut is a smartphone app that enables users to actively take part in documenting the illegal dumps by uploading pictures and GPS data, which can then be verified and reported to the appropriate local authorities. It is an app used by Let’sDo It Movement and it is a tool to create a global map of illegal dumpsites.

Comox -Strathcona Waste Management Service (Comox Valley Regional District) as a means of engaging citizens to combat illegal dumping have created a facebook page “Keep Our Region Beautiful” and encourage citizens to download the TrashOut app to their phones.

To use the TrashOut app first the app can be downloaded to a cell phone and then report or confirm illegal dumpsite in your region. While mapping you don’t even need reception. Once the location of the garbage is mapped, it will be possible for us to see the locations, type, and size of the most troubling dumping areas around the world. Illegal dumpsite pictures that contain people, personal information or car registration may be rejected or blurred. TrashOut, also recommends that you share our pictures on facebook and twitter.

Litterati is mapping litter around the world and the types of litter. Geotags pinpoint the pieces of litter worldwide. An app can be downloaded through itunes. They call this crowdsource cleaning of the planet.

The Global Microplastics Initiative  enlist citizen volunteers  to take water samples while having outdoor adventures including hiking, snowboarding and canoeing. Adventure Scientists is the nonprofit organization collecting data for The Global Microplastics Initiative. Their mission is includes recruiting and training individuals with strong outdoor skills so that they can bring back hard to obtain data from far corners of the globe. The “adventurers” then become informed ambassadors as they retell the stories of their experiences.

The purpose of The Global Microplastics Initiative is to build one of the largest, most geographically diverse data sets on microplastic pollution to date.  In addition to publication in a scientific journal, this work will be used to inform decision makers about the realities of microplastic pollution globally, offer insights which may guide and inspire innovative solutions from individuals and corporations, and can be built upon by future research.

Taking part in global environmental actions is getting easier.

Global Clean Up – Let’s Do It

20110721_lets_do_it_logo_convertedCanadians would you like to be part of a global clean up day? On September 8, 2018 a massive civic movement to clean up litter and garbage around the globe is planned by Let’s Do It.

The Let’s Do It movement started in 2007, when a group of individuals in Estonia noticing the problem of garbage was being dumped in their beautiful forests decided to make a difference. They organized a countrywide clean up event for one day. They were able by partnering with 500 Estonian organizations to create a very well developed plan to not only clean up the entire country but to map out illegal dump sites.  With massive community support the first clean up in Estonia saw over 50,000 citizens (over 4% of Estonia’s population) participate in cleaning up 10 tonnes of garbage in 5 hours.

Since that first clean up, other counties have used the model to have one day countrywide clean ups. Each Let’s Do It Clean Up has galvanized thousands of people in each country having clean ups. Volunteer citizens picking up garbage has been high: Latvia (210,000 participants), Lithuania (250,000), Portugal (100,000), Slovenia (270,000), Romania (250,000), Albania (147,000), Hungary (200,000), Bulgaria (375,000), Ukraine (500,000), India (54,000), and Philippines (28,000). To date over 113 countries and 16 million volunteers have joined the Let’s Do It movement.

On September 8, 2018, a massive global clean up is planned, uniting countries around the world to create a global effort to clean up the garbage littering the planet. The goal is to bring together people from 150 counties to join together to participate in this one day event. The rationale for 150 countries is that it would be approximately 1/5 of the world’s population. This number represents the estimated amount of people necessary to create lasting change and go beyond just one day of incredible activism.

Trash is a world problem. One need only read the dozens of headlines daily to realize that we have a global problem.

Long Island , Johannesburg , Region of Waterloo ,West Wimmera , Merthyr , Kochuveli are just some of the millions of communities that have problems with illegal dumping.

Could uniting as a global movement help us to increase awareness, change behaviours and create solutions for our trash problems?

September 8th 2018 Let’s Do It!


Let’s Do It is an accredited partner of UNEP and the campaign World Cleanup Day is directly addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Tackling waste pollution, adopting sustainable waste management systems, redesigning and innovating for maximum material recovery will play a significant role in reaching the goals for sustainable development.

Proclaiming Zero Waste

clean-1223168_640The months of January and February find Zero Waste Canada involved with events flourishing from proclamations for Zero Waste made by local political leaders. Each of these proclamations helps to elevate awareness and participation in enacting environmental solutions for a month.

January is Zero Waste month in the Philippines. Every month of January is Zero Waste month in the Philippines, since 2014 when President Benigno S. Aquino signed   Proclamation #760.

Each January there has been a host of workshops and events hosted across the country with the main event being the International  Zero Waste Conference held on the 25th In Quezon City. This year’s theme is On the Road to Zero Waste, with Zero Waste experts from around the globe sharing both successes and challenges for communities, businesses, and individuals to create local and global Zero Waste solutions. Zero Waste Canada is very honoured to have director, James Kaminski speaking at this conference.

In February, the Canadian community of Red Deer Alberta will proclaim the month Garbage- Free February. Officially declared in the City of Red Deer by Mayor Morris Flewwelling in 2012 and renewed by Mayor Tara Veer in 2016, GFF remains a yearly celebration of sustainable living. The goal of Garbage Free February is not to live completely free of garbage from the start, but is an invitation to begin the journey towards a sustainable future. 

One of the things that make both of community actions so positive is both “Zero Waste” months have become yearly events. This means that each year the community can plan and build on previous awareness. The conversations about sustainability are ongoing.

Both awareness months while supported by government are really about people.

In the winter of 2006, a single individual in Red Deer Alberta took up the challenge to try a garbage-free existence for a month. From that effort Garbage-Free February was born in the community. For the tenth anniversary , volunteers have organized a series of events include a two day Repair Cafe, presentations on recycling and reuse, challenges and a film presentation. Alex Villeneuve, owner of Ceres Solutions Ltd, will be speaking at the kick-off event on the 1st at Red Deer College. Ceres Solution Ltd, a winner of TEC Edmonton’s Venture Prize. Ceres Solution Ltd , has found a use for the spent grain from beer brewing by recycling the grain .The grain is pasteurized, the inoculated with mushroom  mycelium to break down leftover fibre, which produces enough nutritional biomass to yield protein-rich mushroom crops.

Zero Waste month in the Philippines also has a focus on people. Waste pickers will be centre stage at a number of events. The integral role that waste pickers play in model Zero Waste communities in the Philippines will be showcased. Waste workers allow barangays to divert up to 92% of their waste from dumpsites and landfills. Youth groups and schools and citizen clean-up groups are also an active part of events.

We look forward to sharing news about the events and achievements stemming from these two “Zero Waste Proclamations”, we encourage other communities to make Zero Waste Proclamations.

Zero Waste is a call to action that aims to bring an end to the current take, make, and waste mentality of human society.


The Mason Jar- Zero Waste Living

The Mason Jar
The Mason Jar

The Mason jar is a versatile container for Zero Waste living.

In 1858, John Landis Mason, patented a square-shouldered jar with a threaded screw-top, matching lid and rubber ring for an airtight seal. His design would revolutionize home preserving allowing food to be safely stored and used beyond the season of harvesting, but it would be after his patent expired in 1879 that competitors would market his design to the masses. While the invention would continue to bear his name, John Landis Mason would die in poverty.

By the early twentieth century, industrial advances made jar manufacturing faster and more economical. Mason jars became the container for home canning. Wartime efforts promoted   “ Victory Gardens” and preserving food by home canning but after the war years with the proliferation of supermarkets and the marketing of store bought products home canning declined.

Sales of mason jars are once again spiking up, in part, because  there is a revived interest in home canning, but also because the brand owners like Ball and Bernardin recognized that consumers were looking for eco-friendly packaging , versatile products for do it yourself projects, and healthy comfort food. Marketing strategies changed to social media and online canning demonstrations instead of traditional print ads. Pinterest and facebook help to connect to a younger market.

Many of us for health and environmental reasons are attempting to use less plastic, the Mason jar offers us an alternative container. One of the easiest places to reduce plastics is in the kitchen. Glass advocates highlight that glass containers do not leach harmful chemicals into food or drink, glass does not absorb odours or food colours, glass lasts longer, glass can be made of recycled content and can be recycled.

The Mason jar is more that a jar. The versatility of the design of the jar with the metal rim top and screw-top neck make it a container that can easily be adapted for uses beyond holding jam. The standardized design of the product allows innovators to create accessories that turn the jar into a reusable drink cups and soap dispensers.

The attractive appearance of the jar has encourages the consumer go beyond the display in the kitchen cupboard and find more uses for the containers. Mason jars can be seen as hanging lights, centre pieces for weddings, bathroom accessories as well as individual serving containers for oatmeal and salads. It is a container that can easily be repurposed.

Mason jars can be used to freeze foods. Both Kerr and Ball brands of jars have a freeze fill line marked on jars. Remember to thaw slowly and that to leave room for expansion of liquids when frozen.

Rodents and pests can get into dry goods stored in jars. Kombucha and ice tea can be brewed in Mason jars. Mason Jars have lots of uses for The Zero Waste household.

The original use of the Mason jar that allows safe, convenient preserving of food for another day is also incredibly important as we do our part to remedy food waste and food insecurity issues.

The Mason jar is a product designed for a Zero Waste lifestyle.

 More ideas on recipes and Mason jar uses

Salad in a jar
Salad in a jar

Cookie Dough in a jar

Bernardin website


Creative and decorative uses for mason jars

Our Material Selves; We Are Over-Stuffed

clutter-360058_640Forget the Christmas turkey; we are the ones who are over-stuffed. Our lives, homes, bodies, businesses, shops, backyards are filled with stuff. We are part of a tsunami of consumption. As we drown in the masses of objects and products we bring into our lives we fail to see the environmental impact of the resources we are using.

The earth’s natural resources are finite, which means if we use them continuously we will exhaust them. Evidence is that at the present rate of growth in their use, we are near peak extraction for many sources of energy and materials. Peak oil has had the most attention. No one knows whether we are at peak oil now, or within another decade or so, but it does not have an infinite horizon. Peak does not mean that we run completely out. It means that we can no longer extract at an increasing rate. After hitting peak, the annual draw of any virgin material cannot support continued growth in its use. Indeed, assuming two percent annual growth in use, even iron ore will hit a peak within 50 years.

The air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil we need to grow food are all impacted by our desire for stuff, but we continue to accumulate and to make room for more or newer stuff we dispose of stuff.

Author James Wallman , Stuffocation: Living More With Less (2015, Penguin), writes that Western countries are “stuffocating” under the weight of our possessions, he writes that we have more possessions than we need or use, and this stuff is not only cluttering our lives but it is stressing us.. it might even be killing us.

Many of us can relate to the feeling that James Wallman writes about, ““Stuffocation is that feeling you get when you look in your bulging wardrobe and can’t find a thing to wear; when you have to fight through piles of stuff you don’t use to find the thing you need, and when someone gives you a present and your gut reaction isn’t ‘thank you,’ but ‘what on earth makes you think I could possibly want or need that pointless piece of stuff?’

James Wallman is promoting The Experience Revolution to help people be happier by nudging them less stuff and more experiences. He believes that individuals, businesses and governments have a part in this revolution.

Do we really have too much stuff? Yes. Everything from shoes , toys and just stuff. We have lots of stuff. Imagine the average American household is filled with over 300,000 things.

With all these things you may wonder if there is room for actual living. U.C.L.A. researchers tackled the question of when does all the things stuffing our homes become too much. The anthropologists were given access to 32 “ordinary” middleclass families to document how they lived. The study produced the book, “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors” and a web series called “A Cluttered Life: Middle-Class Abundance”

Consumerism is not new in our culture but many factors have created the hyper consumerism we see today. “The Empire of Things : How We Became a World of Consumers, from the Fifteenth to The Twenty-First” by Frank Trentmann documents the history of consumerism as he writes of the many reasons that our society is moving faster with consumption accompanying the faster pace. As The Program Director for The Culture of Consumption project , a program the consisted of 26 projects that looked at the changing dynamics of consumption, past and present, and the implications for the future. Included in the programs presentations was a short overview of 4 ½ Lessons About Consumption

Frank Trentmann ,Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London believes we can learn from history and that history can prove how we can create change. His lecture recorded at The London School of Economics and Political Science is well worth listening to.

There may be no silver bullet to save the day, but we can all work harder at changing our habits and behaviours. We can learn to reduce and support others to change. We can become more mindful of the impact of our material selves.