Waste reduction talks by Re:Generation put Greenest City goals into motion

Engaged Vancouverites come together at SFU Woodward's for a night of inclusive, intergenerational dialogue -- this month tackling the issue of waste reduction in the city.

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“So we had three different types of compost—we had worm bins for people in apartments, we had backyard composters and we also had this thing called a ‘green cone’ and that’s one that can digest even animal bones. It uses solar heat,” she explained.

According to Rogers, composting can drastically reduce the amount of waste coming out of a household, especially when combined with good recycling practices. For the Zero Waste project, she says her team also used an empty shed to sort the more difficult recyclables before dropping them off at various depots.

Obviously, not everyone is in a position to take on this type of challenge. It’s a lot of work, and as Millsip suggested, it can be tough to get people on board without the proper infrastructure in place.

Fortunately for Vancouver, events like Re:Generation are helping to bring people together to talk these issues through and come up with practical solutions.

Intergenerational collaboration

The Re:Generation dialogues are dedicated to showcasing people or groups in the community doing really inspiring things. Before the audience gets a chance to interact, there will be speakers representing four main age cohorts: Generation X, Generation Y, Baby Boomers and “Vets of Change”.

Wednesday’s lineup includes Ann Johnson of the Gulf Islands Recycling Coalition (Vet); Ken Lyotier, founder of United We Can (Boomer); the duo responsible for the documentary film The Clean Bin Project (Gen X); and a group of students from Windermere High School (Gen Y). Millsip says in addition to younger generations learning from the experiences of their elders, there’s also a lot that adults can learn from engaged and creative youth.

The students at Windermere are a perfect example.

“They have an amazing composting system there, so they compost all kinds of things on site from their school. And they have a cycling system with a trailer set up, so that students cycle to different elementary schools and a senior’s home to pick up their compost as well and bring it back to the school where it’s composted. Then once the compost has gone through a cycle, some of that soil goes back to the various sites.”

The students’ compost program is just one of many innovative waste-related initiatives going on around the city. Through Re:Generation, these independent groups and individuals can connect, exchange ideas and share insights on how best to move forward.

“A big part of it is just showing how individuals have made changes in their communities, or have chosen to do something to get engaged or involved,” said Rogers.

Since the whole project is based around Vancouver’s Greenest City goals, the events also give guests and audience members the chance to interact with public staff and elected officials. This week, Councillor Andrea Reimer will be in attendance to talk about the City’s progress on waste reduction, and to collect feedback.

The Re:Generation series is just one of a number of creative citizen engagement events popping up all over Vancouver. There’s Carbon Talks, Pecha Kucha, the Civic Policy Society’s Public Salons…the list goes on. It seems to be a growing trend—but why now?

“Things seem to happen when the timing is right,” Millsip said, describing such social initiatives as “little flowers cracking through the cement”.

“[There’s] a lot of pent-up energy for a profoundly different way of how we govern ourselves, and how we try to live this life.”

Creating opportunities for intelligent and inclusive dialogue is an important step towards facing global challenges like climate change, whether it’s in our cities or on a broader scale. According to Millsip, if we’re going to face these problems, “we need all hands on deck.”

Re:Generation – Wasteless in Vancouver happens Wed. Feb. 22 at SFU Woodward’s. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the dialogue starts at 7 p.m.

Visit the website for more information about Re:Generation.

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