Tag Archives: Zero Waste Economy

Three Start-ups That Want To Reduce Your Waste

This week Zero Waste Canada decided to give a shout out to three start-ups businesses working hard to grow their businesses. Taking a great idea making a product and then finding people who will use and buy is always a challenge. One expert likened growth hacking to building an engine while you are barreling down a freeway.

Here are three different start-ups offering products that reduce waste.


Launched by entrepreneur Andrew Stromotich from Gibsons, British Columbia his platinum silicone products offer a solution to single-use plastics. Andrew’s product line includes bagz, pouches and lids.

His products are boilable, bakeable, sterilizable, dishwasher-safe, airtight and watertight, not to mention multipurpose and endlessly reusable.

As a start-up, Andrew has used crowdfunding such as Indiegogo to help finance several product innovations.

To market his products he has a website, twitter and facebook. He also used video presentations to show the uses and benefits of his products.


Karen Moore and her sister Lisa wanted to help other women become more healthy, environmentally friendly, and confident during their period. Karen, who is currently a student in the health field and Lisa, an ESL teacher used their sewing skills to turn a hobby into a product – colourful reusable pads.

SmartyPantsPads are a Canadian made product made from cotton, flannel, Zorb( a highly absorbent fabric that can absorb 10 times its weight) and a polyurethane laminate as a moisture barrier. The benefits of using cloth menstrual pads include both saving money and reducing waste. You can do the math: assuming a woman menstruates for 40 years, buys $8 pack of disposables every other month, it eventually adds up to $1,920 over her lifetime. If she’s using a pack a month, that’s $3,840. A half-dozen set of reusables for the same period, at an estimated cost of $84, replaced every five years, total only $640.  An average woman will use up to 16,800 disposable pads and tampons during her lifetime.

SmartyPantsPads are currently available on Etsy. Karen has a Faacebook page to promote the product.

Leaf Republic

For three years this start-up based in Munich Germany been doing research in the area of sustainable packaging. Leaf Republic wants to push the market a bit further towards sustainability. Believing: “Revolutions are not started by a market leader, but by lateral thinkers following a clear vision: Not to work within the system and to accept the standards as given, but to change the system and to set new standards”, Leaf Republic is the very first company to develop sustainable one-way disposable tableware and food packaging material made of nothing but tree leaves.

The tableware and packaging is made leaves with no synthetic additives, no colouring, no glue and no trees have been cut down. The product is biodegradable in 28 days. It is free from petroleum derivatives and genetically modified components.

The company has launched a 29 day Kickstarter campaign to introduce its’ green, biodegradable and vegan tableware (one-way dishes) to the public.

Leaf Republic has a well-organized marketing campaign that makes use of social media, media announcements and a website.

Check out these innovators and help them grow.

Another Path Towards Zero Waste – A Glass Blower Leads The Way

Guest blog post: Erich Schwartz is a Management Consultant and Entrepreneur focused on developing and implementing sustainable business practices for a variety of businesses, governments, and organizations – globally and across industries. Specifically, he has been highly successful with sustainability programs, large scale information and educational technology projects, and telecommunications infrastructure integration projects for Fortune 500, Crown Corporations, Governments, and mid-size businesses throughout the world.

Wayne Harjula and Miyuki Shinkai have been evolving their glass blowing studio, Mellon Glass, since 1996. By evolving, I mean they have consciously moved away from industry trends by creating hand formed drinking glasses from discarded bottles and jars. These drinking glasses are distinct from a number of perspectives in that they; support community engagement, use materials that would otherwise be crushed or recycled, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create local employment opportunities in a small community.

The evolution of their glass blowing practices were built upon Wayne’s experience growing up in a small scale farm where he learned to be resourceful, reuse or repair things, and be environmentally aware. From this foundation, Wayne has always been concerned about waste and has become very much involved in promoting Zero Waste and developing solutions to move toward a Zero Waste society. Wayne had heard of the “Glass Mountain” and finally got to see it first hand at the Gibsons Resource Recovery Centre located in Gibsons, BC, Canada and owned and operated by Buddy Boyd and Barb Hetherington. Buddy and Barb are leaders in Zero Waste and are board members of Zero Waste Canada. They have cooperated with Wayne in helping him develop his glass prototypes by supplying the bottles and jars for Wayne’s experiments.

Creating drinking glasses from the “Glass Mountain” was not enough for Wayne, as he also wanted to use the seductive medium to constructively engage the community. To do so, Wayne engaged local merchants and individuals to develop distinct glasses with a message that increased awareness of the environment, the community, or anything else of cultural importance in a positively engaging way. For example, one of the first creations was a Zero Waste glass with a picture of a pig. Another more politically oriented series include the words “Delete, delete, delete!” which refers to an extensive series of emails being deleted by the ruling political party in British Columbia (See inserted picture).  Further opportunities to engage people is through local merchants developing their own line of glasses that may reflect the street on which they are located, the town, or any kind of distinct personally derived theme they fancy. Think Knitting or Seed Bombs.

In addition to being able to make large numbers of the same glass themes, Wayne has reduced his greenhouse gas footprint by 95% due to the unique heating process for making his glasses. Of course, as demonstrated by much of the work done by Greenomics, a consultancy in sustainable business practices, a reduction in green house gas emissions correlates directly to reductions in operating costs. Thus, Mellon Glass has reduced its gas bill from approximately $24,000/year down to $1,200/year. Plans are also underway to capture the excess heat used to create the glasses for heating bottle washing water, warming homes, and meeting other energy needs. Zero Waste applies to energy too.

While Wayne explained in his unassuming and humble manner the processes that led to his up-cycled glasses, I realized that what was really being described wasn’t the glasses at all. Rather, it was more an expression to build community, explore and learn together, be respectful of our environment, and  seek greater meaning. In other words, to create an attractive and lifelong alternative to the mainstream consumerism that is alienating and destroying our environment. The glasses are one example of creating something that is functional, captivating, environmentally sensitive, and brings people together.

This is one light toward a better future.