Zero Waste in the Kitchen, July 27
For our July workshop, The Food Connection was treated to a custom presentation by Jacquie Rolston—an artist who's obsessed with garbage. As one of the four faces behind Zero Waste Club Vancouver, Jacquie is passionate about art education, the environment and building more connected communities.
A monthly community potluck and workshop series, Zero Waste Club Vancouver has a lot in common with The Food Connection. On the third Wednesday of every month, they host a gathering at The Hub on East 11th Ave, and share knowledge and skills on on reducing, reusing, and recycling.
Jacquie's presentation taught us that rethinking is just as important as the three R's we learned about in school. Her commentary was rich with knowledge on how to live a zero-waste life in Vancouver.
One of the main takeaways from the evening is that recycling is a business. Multi-Material BC is the non-profit organization responsible for recycling in our province. Even though technologies may exist to break down many materials, they will only be recycled where there's a market for manufacturers to incorporate materials into new products.
We learned why plastics #3 (polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, the hard plastic that so many things are packaged in these days) and #6 (polystyrene, like the trays containing produce and raw meat) are more wasteful—and more toxic—than the rest. Since they cannot be heated at a high enough temperature to ensure all biological contamination has been removed, they can't be used for most food containers.
What's more, putting these low-market demand plastics into our recycling bins contaminates the supply, and a batch of plastics could end up in the landfill instead. That's the bad news.
The good news is that we were inspired by Jacquie's presentation, and we all shared tips with one another that got us excited about the challenges of cutting waste from our lives. Jacquie encouraged us to think about our motivations for considering a zero-waste lifestyle, and how we'll challenge the barriers we will inevitably face.
In the weeks following our workshop, there have been changes to the system, and Zero Waste Club Vancouver has shared them on Facebook. For instance, some chip bags are now recyclable, and London Drugs is accepting plastics and other materials in their stores. Now that we've followed them, we're so glad our zero-waste friends are helping us sort through the possibilities of keeping recyclables out of the landfill.