Carol Folhasi grew up in Brazil watching her grandmother and other women making soap for personal use and household cleaning. An Italian immigrant to Brazil, Carol’s grandmother brought the skills of making soap from used cooking oil to her new home and passed that knowledge on to her children and grandchildren. Used cooking oil was saved to have another life as soap.
As an adult moving to Canada, Carol was surprised to find the reuse/ repurposing of cooking oil was not happening in Canadian kitchens and in some cases the fate of used cooking oil was into landfills or poured down drains.
Carol’s partner, Cynthia Gabay started to have allergic reactions to store bought hygiene products which sent her on a quest to learn what exactly was in the products she was buying.Most commercially produced bars contain synthetic lathering agents, artificial colors, and a slew of chemicals we can’t even pronounce. Antibacterial and antimicrobial soaps often contain triclosan. Triclosan is a toxic chemical that is known to cause cancer. The vast majority of the products on the shelf don’t say “soap” on their labels, because these bars are actually detergent.
Using a grandmother’s wisdom and the research about the health and environmental impacts using more natural products, the team decided to start their own business making soap.
C Soap is a new business taking its first steps into the market in Victoria BC.
C Soap collects cooking oil for recycling, there is a pick up order form on the website . There is an online shop for ordering product as well as they are beginning to stock at local shops.
The soap has no packaging and is a hard bar.
We are using the soap. There is no food residual smells from the bar, it is a creamy ivory colour. We have tested it bathing, and washing hair as well as washing dishes and have had good results. The soap leaves skin and hair soft. There was no need to use a cream rinse to detangle hair. Apparently commercial soap manufacturers make it a practice to remove the glycerine that is produced during the saponification (soap-making) process therefore more natural soaps actually moisturize skin.
A recent report by the UK’s Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) revealed that synthetic chemicals from soap, body washes, shampoos and other healthcare products were sneaking through the filters at water purification plants. The list of offenders included phthalates, which are linked to reproductive disorders in humans and animals, and parabens, a preservative, which links to cancer.
C Soap is another small Canadian business helping to create a more sustainable home and country. C Soap is proudly made on Vancouver Island.
Psychologists, anthropologists, and marketers have found that giving gifts is a surprisingly complex and important human interaction that helps to define relationships and strengthens bonds between family and friends. Gift giving has been part of many cultures and rituals for thousands of years. First Nation’s potlatches were a giving feast and in fact the word potlatch comes from the Chinook jargon meaning “to give away” or “gift” Giving is embedded in our celebrations, our history and our expressions of caring.
Psychologists often point out that giving to others reinforces our feelings to them and makes us feel effective and caring.
Many individuals today lament that Christmas has become too materialistic. Many of us have enough stuff.
All the stuff associated with gift giving including packaging and wrapping also creates lots of waste. Household waste increases by 25% from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
Instead of banning gifts perhaps it is time to rethink what we actually are giving. Instead of objects perhaps we think of creating feelings, memories and experiences.
Creating memories can start with joining family and friends to prepare for the season. Baking cookies with mom may be a memory children remember long after any memory of shopping. Creating memories is about moments of togetherness and caring.
Sharing memories with parents and older relatives reconnects that past and present. Sharing family stories connects children with their family history.
Giving the gift of time enriches the lives of children and perhaps the neighbour who is alone. Reading a Christmas story with a child or inviting a neighbour for tea is about giving your time and attention.
Giving the gift of your services by volunteering with a community group or cause is another way of gifting the spirit of Christmas. Christmas is a time that food banks, charities, rest homes, animal shelters and hospitals are in need of volunteers.
Donating money or needed items to a charity is a gift that can help to create positive change.
Give a hug.
Give a hand, Offer to help someone.
And with these gifts we can create fuzzy warm feelings not waste.
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Apps are an important tool to promote better recycling.
Smartphones have transformed the way we live our lives so it is imperative we adapt the latest technologies to make it easier to engage citizens and solve problems including making zero waste solutions more accessible.
Communities across Canada from Halifax to Victoria are offering free apps to help residents manage their recycling and disposal needs. The apps come in different forms, including calendars and reminders for curbside collection and detailed maps that outline depots that take specific items such as paint, electronics or compact-fluorescent light bulbs. Winnipeg’s MY WASTE mobile app, as well as collection days and items recycled, offers instruction on how to recycle and what not to include in blue bins.
Provincial recycling organizations also offer informative apps. The Recycling Council of BC in partnership with the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC), the free app is a quick and simple tool that helps users find over 1,000 drop-off locations and recycling options for over 70 materials or products across BC. BC Recyclepedia App is available for bothiPhones& Androids, provides users a list of the 10 nearest locations to recycle your item, based on the phones location, as well as a Google map with directions.
EPR stewardship programs are also using apps to educate the public about their programs. Multi-Material BC (MMBC) is announcing its partnership with ReCollect, a BC-based waste collection mobile application developer, to create a new MMBC mobile application (app) for residents in areas serviced by MMBC’s packaging and printed paper recycling program.
Surveys of Canadian cell phone usage report a growing reliance on smart phones as the majority of users “do not leave home without it” and use the phone at least two hours a day. More than one in five Canadian households uses cell phones as their sole telephone service.
Smartphones are allowing Canadians to have information at their finger tips anywhere and at any time. According to Statistics Canada, 84% of household owned at least one cell phone. Canada is the fourth heaviest mobile data users in the world and mobile data traffic is expected to grow by 600% from 2015 to 2020(Cisco, VNI Mobile Forecast Highlights, 2015-2020).
The average smartphone user has 30 apps installed on their device and they have used 12 apps on their smartphones in the past month.
People are using mobile to change all aspects of their life, whether it’s their job, travel, shopping, the way they communicate with others, and specifically trying to understand the world around them; recycling apps can help.
When we are consuming fruits and vegetables, we often focus on the flesh of the fruit or the heads of the broccoli leaving usable parts of the produce to be discarded in the compost, but we can get even more value from the goodness of the plant.
In our Zero Waste kitchens our goal is to maximize the use of our food resources. Here are some ideas how to use pits, stems, leaves and skins.
Pits: The almondlike seeds in pits from peaches, nectarines and apricots do a good job of carrying on the desirable traits of their parents. You can simply sprout and grow a seed from a great-tasting specimen, and you have a good chance of sinking your teeth into sweet, juicy fruit from your own tree in only three to five years. Choose pits from fully ripe fruit. Avoid seeds from early maturing varieties because their seeds may not develop enough to sprout. Locally grown varieties are more likely to prosper in your garden compared to varieties grown a thousand miles away.
Peels: Grow potatoes from peelings by planting any piece of a potato that contains at least one eye. Work the soil in a sunny garden bed to a depth of 8 inches, incorporating 3 inches of organic compost. Plant your potatoes a month before the last frost, or any time after that through September. Potatoes prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH of about 6 to 6.5.
Pits: : For the adventurous cook use pits to flavour vinegar and sauces (warning peach, apricot and nectarines pits contain amygdalin, a cyanide and sugar compound that degrades into hydrogen cyanide (HCN) when metabolized so follow proven recipes. Avocado pits are also dried and ground to add to smoothies.
Peels: Potato peelings make into tasty chips by baking them in the oven. The best part is you don not have to make them right away. You can put them in a bowl, cover them with water and refrigerate you can wait up to 3 or 4 days to bake them. Save them for movie night munchies. Banana peels also can be cooked and banana peels are packed with nutrients like vitamin A, lutein, and other antioxidants, including B vitamins, which your body needs to keep its metabolism stoked. What’s more, they have tons of soluble and insoluble fiber, even more than the fruit itself—both can slow digestion, boost feelings of fullness, and even work to lower cholesterol.
Leaves: Carrot tops are highly nutritious and can be used in salads, made into pesto or included in stews.
Stalks : Broccoli stalks make great additions to stock, salads and a variety of dishes. The stalks can be grated, chopped, puréed to add a mild flavour to dishes.
Peels : Use peels to make lovely scented skin tonics and scrubs, Make hair conditioner by adding the peels of several lemons to a jar, and fill almost to the top with apple cider vinegar). Allow it to sit for 1-2 weeks and strain out peels. Add about 1 tablespoon of this citrus vinegar solution to 1 cup of water, and use as a conditioning rinse after shampooing. Allow the rinse to remain on hair for a few minutes, then rinse out or just leave in.
Peels: Citrus peels contain oil called D-limonene which is a powerful solvent for dirt and especially grease. Citrus peels are an ingredient in homemade furniture polish and cleaners.
We can make the most of many fruits and vegetables we consume by using all parts from stalk to skin.
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More and more consumers are realizing to achieve their Zero Waste lifestyle goals they need to change their methods of shopping. The demand for less packaging of materials, less plastic, more local products and less food waste is growing.
This week, Zero Waste Canada interviews Crystal Lehky, the owner of Green, Canada’s first Zero Waste Grocery.
Green, located on Salt Spring Island B.C., has recently opened in June for business. The grocery store offers a one-stop shopping experience where shoppers can eliminate packaging by purchasing products from bulk-style bins, using their own jars, bags, containers or baskets. The store offers a choice of over 300 products that are locally sourced, non-gmo, organic, natural or low-spray, with local products and producers from Salt Spring Island, the Gulf Islands, Vancouver Island featured. Green’s selection includes dairy products, fresh produce, eggs, pastas, herbs, cleaning and personal care products.
ZWC: What was the motivation to open a Zero Waste grocery store on Salt Spring Island?
There were two reasons. First, I think that Salt Spring people are open and ready for this business model. They really care about the environment, and also about where their food is coming from. I’m not saying that everyone everywhere doesn’t, I just think that if anyone is going to be early adopters of the concept, it’s people for whom recycling is a challenge (because it really is on this island). They also really care about local food and products, and there are tons of things being grown and made on Salt Spring. People who don’t live here may not realize this, but it’s a farming community first and foremost. The second reason was that I knew I’d have to live where I started my first store, and Salt Spring is a place I have always wanted to live. It turned out to be a good choice. Starting a business is so stressful, but it has been really hard to be stressed out on Salt Spring, it’s so relaxed.
ZWC: What will you be stocking to assist individuals with a Zero Waste lifestyle.
We do have an excellent selection of cotton drawstring bags and lovely jars for folks to buy and fill up with delicious whole foods. However, I don’t think you need to go out and buy a bunch of things to start living zero waste. You probably already have a ton of jars and plastic containers lying around your house – probably tons. We would prefer that people bring their own containers and reuse what they already have instead of adding more ‘things’ to the environment. It’s mostly about making good decisions in the stores you visit. Most foods are packaged in plastic and you just have to learn to say no. We offer the same products with no plastic, and I feel that’s the main way we are helping folks do zero waste. We do carry a great beeswax food wrap product that eliminates the need for saran wrap and plastic baggies- that’s kind of a game changer in my opinion.
ZWC: Will any of the products you sell be in packaging? If so will your customers be able to recycle or compost this packaging?
Yes we have several products that have some paper type packaging on them. Sometimes it’s unavoidable. Dairy products need to be labelled by law, so they need that packaging. We knew this was going to be an issue early on, and worked hard to try to find a solution so we could really call ourselves zero waste. The solution was a worm farm. A pound of worms can eat up to half a pound a day in paper scraps and vegetable waste (50/50 mix) per day. We got a worm farm and sure enough they love eating the paper! So we encourage our customers to bring back the paper on any products we carry and we will feed it to the worms. It really helps with office paper waste and debit card receipts people leave behind as well. Between our home and the bit of vegetable waste from the store, we keep them fed very nicely. They seem like very happy worms.
ZWC: On your website you spoke about researching and working with suppliers to have reusable or recyclable shipping materials, how difficult was it to create a greener supply chain?
We are always trying to help our suppliers find alternate ways to package their products that would be better for the environment. We do this by sharing information on what other suppliers are doing to cut down waste. Honestly most of our suppliers are constantly looking for a better way to do business, and we appreciate that about them. We really have the best suppliers on the planet. In order to create this green supply chain though, it was necessary to cut out the distributers altogether and go directly to the source. Distributors have no power to change the way shipping happens. For some of our suppliers they just made a small change, and you know what, any change is awesome. Ship us things in reused boxes that I will reuse and then repurpose on a farm! That’s using the item three extra times, so no waste in that. One customer is using vegetable cellophane instead of plastic now. It’s amazing what people are interested in doing, and spending money on, if only the demand arises. I spend a lot of my day speaking with new suppliers and trying to find a way to get the products my customers want in a zero waste way. I’m very close on about six products right now but some will be a huge challenge. The bigger the company the more difficult the change is the trend I see. For that reason we work with a lot of small companies that are more open to change and don’t have active policies that work against being more green.
ZWC: How will you be minimizing waste at your store?
Well the worm farm really helps to take care of any waste we do accumulate. That takes care of any paper and vegetable scrap problems, and we don’t have any plastic garbage for the most part. What we do have gets reused as much as it can, and then recycled. We do have a lot of cardboard that comes in shipments. We have dealt with this cardboard in a bunch of ways, but a few of them are really cool. We have a Salt Spring resident that was building a path through is forest and mulching cardboard as the base for the path. That took up a ton of cardboard and is fantastic reuse of material. Our cardboard can also be used in goat pens to create a ‘floor’ that works better for goat health. Honestly I’m not sure how that one works, but they come and get the cardboard pretty regularly. We have also given some of our larger boxes to local children for fort building. We’ve had a great time watching where our ‘waste’ ends up being reused instead of recycled.
ZWC: How will you reduce food waste?
We work with the local food bank to make sure that nothing here goes to waste. They have been wonderful in taking things off our hands that we really don’t want to throw out but can’t have displayed in the store anymore.
ZWC: What did you do before opening the grocery store?
I have done many things on my journey to this goal, but only a few are pertinent. I was a manager at a large grocery chain and I started another company as well, that is still in operation but I no longer manage the day to day operations. For the last several years I was really just trying to figure out where my passion was leading me. I had this amazing idea last year but I really didn’t know where to start. Having a husband who has unconditional confidence in my abilities really helped. When you have enough passion for something it’s easy to see the obstacles as opportunities for learning. I get a lot of ‘opportunities for learning’ with this business, but I love a challenge. I love that people said this couldn’t be done, and now here it is up and running and doing great.
Crystal Lehky describes herself as an environmental crusader and a Canadian grocer, Zero Waste Canada is proud to introduce you to the new breed of Canadian entrepreneurs helping us achieve Zero Waste.
Green is located at 110-150 Fulford Granges Rd., Salt Spring Island, BC V9L 2T9. Telephone: 778-256-2437, Proprietor, Crystal Lehky, firstname.lastname@example.org. Hours: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily.
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