Earth Day #50 in Sooke ~ Community Clean-Up and Repair Cafe

CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19. Safe healthy, everyone, and take care.

The 50th anniversary of Earth Day is on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, yet Transition Sooke and its working groups will be marking this landmark occasion on a number of days this April. Our contribution will be the following two events …

1. Sooke Repair Cafe, Sunday, April 26, mid-morning until early afternoon downstairs at the Sooke Community Hall under the direction of Zero Waste Sooke’s Bernie Klassen.

2. Announcing the Earth Day 2020 Sooke Community Clean-Up ~ Sunday, April 12 everywhere in Sooke! Over to organizers Marlene Barry and Wendy O’Connor for the details.

“Good day folks,

Planning is under way in preparation for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. We would love to match and exceed the amazing participation we had in our 2018 Sooke Region Earth Day Clean Up!

This year’s clean-up will take place on Sunday, April 12th, (yes, the Sunday of Easter weekend) to coincide with the Surfrider Foundation Vancouver Island Whiffen Spit Beach cleanup. This is two weeks prior to Transition Sooke’s planned Sooke Earth Day Celebrations at the Sooke Community Hall.

Surfrider has assured us that clean-ups held on long-weekends have not appreciably reduced the number of volunteers participating. We hope this will not deter you from joining in this great community and family event, possibly hunting for garbage instead of Easter Eggs. There will be a great “apres-trash” for teams.

As with the previous region-wide clean-up, we will need a key contact person for each participating community / neighbourhood. Early registration ensures we will have enough garbage and recycling bins delivered to each community.

One big change is that we will need at least one volunteer assigned to stay at the bins to assist with sorting and security. Bins will be locked when not manned. Sadly last time, we had banned items put in bins after hours, and little sorting out of recyclables.

Mark your calendars, spread the word and start gathering your teams again.

Thank you!

p.s. Don’t hesitate to contact Wendy at with questions or comments.” 

Sooke Repair Cafe #5 ~ Oct. 20

Sooke Repair Cafe #5 ~ this Sunday, Oct. 20, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sooke Community Hall.

Free admission as ever, no charge for fixes (though donations are always appreciated). Everyone is welcome to bring whatever malfunctioning or broken items they can carry in themselves. Our expert crew of local volunteer fixers will do their best to see them right.

This officially sanctioned event again marks the end of the annual (10th anniversary in this case) International Repair Cafe Week organized by Repair Cafe HQ in Amsterdam. According to it, 1,653 Repair Café groups were active world-wide last year. Collectively, they prevented approx. 350,000 kilos of salvageable stuff from going to landfills ~ the same weight, we’re told, as 58 adult African elephants!  Following the calculation method by British researcher Steve Privett, up to 8.5 million kilos of CO2 was saved in 2018.

What a victory in the pushback against the manufacturing world’s favourite phrase: built-in obsolescence!

Our event also signals the start of the annual Waste Reduction Week in Canada, launched in 2001 by the Recycling Council of Ontario and now involving a coalition of not-for-profit environmental groups and governments from each of the 13 provincial and territorial jurisdictions across Canada.  This year’s activities focus on seven daily themes: the circular economy; textiles; champions & innovators; plastics & packaging; food waste; shop, share & repair; and electronic waste.

Summer 2019 Update

Ahead of tomorrow night’s monthly meeting at the Sooke Public Library, here’s an update and call for participation from our Wendy O’Connor …

“Good day everyone,

ZWS meets once a month at the Sooke branch of the Vancouver Island Public Library on the third Wednesday of the month from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Why not just mark it in into your calendars or set up a recurring digital reminder? If you would like to attend but cannot make it on Wednesdays, then let us know your preference and we can see if we can find a better meeting day for the majority. Nothing is written in stone!  Email your thoughts to  zws-logo
         Zero Waste Sooke will once again staff a non-profit table at the Sooke Country Market one Saturday a month this June, July, August and September.  If you could spare a couple of hours once a month it would be greatly appreciated.
A brief summary of who we are and what we have done so far
      The impetus for our goals and direction came from a brilliant  “Talk Trash” Community Open Space meeting that we organized on local waste management issues back in April 2016 at Sooke Community Hall, which in turn led us to present a report to the District of Sooke Council.  At that meeting we presented our 3 main “asks” from the District: 
2)  Public drinking fountains in Sooke to discourage the use of plastic water bottles; and
3) Resource Recovery Centre featuring Compost Centre, Re-Use It Store, and related cottage industries.

Rejoice with us in the acceptance and on-going implementation of the first 2 of our 3 asks! 🙂 


  • District of Sooke’s May, 2019 plastic bag bylaw (which you can read in full here) comes into full effect on Jan. 1, 2020. Wonderful that so many in the community — retailers and shoppers alike — understand and champion #BYOB!
  • A three-tier drinking water fountain is planned for near the new washroom at John Phillips Memorial Park, and is also intended for washroom facilities at Whiffin Spit in 2020.


Some of our other accomplishments over the past 4 years since inception are:
  • We were extremely involved in the Sooke Region Planet Earth Day Celebrations in April 2018;
  • We have held 5 VERY successful Repair Cafes and continue to do so twice a year, spring and fall;
  • ZWS has hosted an annual community clean-up each year, twice in conjunction with ProjectServe and students from the University of Victoria;
  • 3 Delegation presentations to the District of Sooke Council over the past 3 years seeking follow-up action on our requests to Council;
  • Hosted an information table once a month each summer at the Sooke Country Market, of which 3 of those 10 or 11 sessions have involved hosting the Victoria Compost Education Centre;
  • Family Literacy Day workshop for youngsters on creating musical instruments from recycled materials. A collaboration with the Sooke Region Literacy Project at Edward Milne Community School;
  • Presentation on electronics re-use and recycling by Triston Line, a member of the EMCS Robotics team, at the Sooke library;
  • Numerous workshops at the Sooke library, including sessions on zero waste Furoshiki gift wrapping, making your own laundry soap and kids workshops;
  • Working with reps from Village Foods, Home Hardware and Western Foods regarding plastic bag use in Sooke, creating a “Bring your Own Bag” sign for display in these stores; and
  • in Oct 2016 Major Tait officially declares “Waste Reduction Week in Sooke” at the request of ZWS. Litterless lunch and waste audit held at John Muir Elementary School.
     The majority of this has been accomplished with a dedicated handful of people………who could really use some more support! Please spread the word and share this post with any like-minded friends.  We need younger people as well, we need someone with graphic designing skills, we need someone who would like to push out tweets on twitter, and others who like working with Facebook.  We don’t need much of your time, a couple of hours a month.

Wendy O’Connor

Sooke Repair Cafe #4 ~ Oct. 21 at the Community Hall

Marking the end of International Repair Cafe Week 2018 ~ and because it was so much fun the first three times ~ we’re again rallying local volunteer fixers for the next of our Sooke Repair Cafes. It’s set for Sunday, Oct. 21 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. downstairs at the Sooke Community Hall.

The premise remains the same: If you have something that isn’t working right, bring it to the Café and one of our ace fixers will try and help you get it back to working condition. The service is free, but you’re also invited to bang our gong to mark a successful repair, then drop a tip into the donation jar.

Repair Cafés have become increasingly popular around the world since the first was held in Amsterdam in 2009. Several now take place regularly on Vancouver Island. We operate these events under license with Repair Café International.

All Welcome! Monthly Meetings at the Sooke Library

We’re back tonight with the first of a new season’s third-Wednesday monthly meetings at the Vancouver Island Regional Library – Sooke on Anna Marie Road.  Join our regulars at 6:30 p.m. and stay as long as you can or like until our kind and accommodating librarian friends show us the door at 8 pm closing time. Topics on the always relaxed agenda include our fourth Repair Cafe (set for Sunday, Oct. 21 at the Community Hall), a status update on our call for a single-use plastic bag ban in Sooke, and perhaps whatever YOU have on your own mind and wish to share as we work towards the aspirational goal summed up in our name. Please join us! 😍

PS On the subject of zero waste policies in BC, here’s some good news: The City of Victoria’s call for provincial plastic-bag legislation was passed last week at the Union of BC Municipalities convention in Whistler.  A sister resolution for a broader BC Zero Waste strategy also received the thumb’s up from municipal representatives.

The latter resolution reads: “Provincial Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy — Endorsed as amended: ‘Therefore be it resolved that the Province of British Columbia engage the packaging industry to develop a Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy as a part of a provincial Zero Waste Strategy, which would include but not necessarily be limited to plastic and paper shopping bags, polystyrene foam cups and polystyrene foam containers, other hot and cold drink cups and take-out containers.'”

Now that’s worthy of a sincere toast (in a ceramic cup or glass) to all responsible.  Over to Premier Horgan’s government to make it happen!

One Big Step Closer to a Single-Use Plastic Bag Bylaw in Sooke

Sincere thanks to District of Sooke council for sending our third-time request for a local single-use plastic bag bylaw to District staff for further study following our council presentation on Monday night. With the comprehensive Capital Regional District (see Sept. 13, 2017 agenda) and City of Victoria bylaws as reference points, we hope and anticipate that it will be relatively simple for staff to draft local legislation.

Here’s the Sooke PocketNews/Britt Santowski take on our portion of a busy council agenda. Appreciation to all our councillors, with a special hat tip to Councillor Logins for recommending that the District explore local initiatives regarding other single-use plastics — straws, bottles and foam containers included. Her amended motion did not pass given the complications that would be entailed in such legislation, but it has set the stage for further action when (and still if) a bag bylaw goes ahead locally.

Until then, we’re pleased to know that our BYOB signs outside four major town-centre retailers are having an impact on shopping habits, according to anecdotal feedback from check-out clerks. Keep up the good work, Sooke!

PS Here are our talking points from July 9 …

~ Single-Use Plastic Bag Regulation: Sooke council noted last year that it would be keeping tabs on how the City of Victoria proceeds with its Checkout Bag regulation. Council was also anticipating the creation of a model bag bylaw by the Capital Regional District.

The CRD model bylaw was included in the Environmental Services Committee agenda dated Sept. 13, 2017. As Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins noted at the meeting: “This is a model bylaw that municipalities can take under advisement and choose to pursue if they so desire.”

The CRD report explained, “an emerging topic of interest is the management of single-use items, such as the City of Vancouver’s single-use item reduction strategy aimed at disposable cups, takeout containers, shopping bags and plastic disposable straws. Single-use plastics are also attracting national and international attention.”

Eliminating single-use plastic is a global priority, and was the theme of Earth Day 2018 internationally. United Nations Climate Change Director Achim Steiner has called for a world-wide ban on plastic shopping bags; representatives from 200 nations passed a resolution at the UN Environmental Assembly this year to eliminate plastic pollution from oceans.  Bag bans and/or taxes have been instituted in recent years in Kenya, Taiwan, the UK, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Australia, France and Morocco. There are anti-bag regulations in 133 US cities.

On Jan. 1, 2018, Montreal became the first major Canadian city to institute a ban on lightweight plastic bags with a thickness of less than 50 microns; just 14 percent of the roughly 2 billion bags used annually in the Montreal region are recycled, a figure consistent with national and international averages.

This June, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Britain and the European Union endorsed the G7 ocean plastic charter, which calls for signatory countries to reduce the use of plastics and, where alternatives are not available, find ways to include more recycled materials in the plastics they do use.

 The City of Victoria’s bylaw went into effect on July 1 following a BC Supreme Court decision that rejected a challenge by the Canadian Plastic Bag Association. Oak Bay, Saanich and Esquimalt were among CRD municipalities taking a wait-and-see approach pending the resolution of this case.  On June 18, the court upheld the rights of BC municipalities to i) regulate business transactions within their jurisdictions; and ii) manage the local waste stream.

~ City of Victoria ‘Reducing Single Use Plastic Bags” webpage (bylaw text included)

~ City of Victoria “Retail Toolkit”“developed to help businesses educate their staff and customers about Victoria’s Checkout Bag Regulation Bylaw.”

~ Sooke Public Awareness & Education ~ Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) signs:  Many Sooke residents are keen to bring their own canvas shopping bags — provided, that is, they remember to get them from their back seats and car trunks before entering stores. (design for Zero Waste Sooke by Zach Ogilvie/Ogilvie Creative)

 Our colourful reminders to BYOB were posted prominently outside Western Foods,Village Foods, Pharmasave and Home Hardware in the fall of 2017. These leading local retailers enthusiastically supported this initiative; all are registered stewards with Recycle BC. The latter is funded 100 percent by BC businesses and is evidence that retailers are dedicated to reducing their environmental impacts.

 – Sooke Retail Survey: At council’s request, ZWS canvassed a range of local retailers for their views on the subject in the fall of 2016. The Little Vienna Bakery and A Sea of Bloom supported an  outright ban on plastic bags. Whiskers & Waggs favoured a ban on heavy-duty plastic while asking that biodegradable plastic bags be permitted. Peoples (now Pharmasave) did not support a ban for various reasons related to store operations. Chain outlets (i.e.,Subway) and the local BC Liquor Store are bound by corporate decisions made at head office.

Aftermath: Earth Day 2018

Coming up for air 72 hours later! We’re delighted with how Sunday unfolded on many fronts as our unofficial coalition of earth-firsters gathered to honour and celebrate this blue dot we call home. Thanks to every last one of you who participated: attendees, exhibitors, dearly beloved volunteers, Repair Cafe fixers, musicians, upcycling fashionistas, EV trailblazers, PEP talkers, food-truck vendors, sponsors and supporters. Oh, and not forgetting Marjory the Trash Heap (from this weekend’s Amber Academy Fraggle Rock-A-Thon), a surprise guest and literal show-stopper who joined us in the late morning shortly after all of us in the Sooke Community Hall paused for a minute of precious contemplative silence in honour of the 48th annual Earth Day.

Bonus: Beautiful weather, too, hooray! We were delighted so many folks opted to join us for an hour or two while also taking time to do what comes so naturally year-round in this beautiful region, i.e. getting outdoors for quality time by the water, deep in the forest or up a mountainside on two wheels or feet. That’s right: Every day is a fresh Earth Day in the Sooke region.

It took a village! (part one of several). 💚💚💚 to our dedicated, creative and hard-working organizing team (in alpha order by first name): Bernie Klassen, Carol Mallett, David Mallett, Ellen Lewers, Jeff Bateman (aka me), Jo Phillips, Keli Dunn, Leslie Hering, Marlene Barry(coordinator extraordinaire), Mary Dunn, Paula Johanson, Shawna Knight, Tracy Waters and Wendy O’Connor. Without them — Marlene especially — this year’s Earth Day wouldn’t have had much PEP at all! Also raising a coffee mug to Kelly and Yvonne at Kelz Sweet & Savory Bake Shop for hosting our Friday morning planning meetings.

It took a (really pretty big) village! (part two). A deep, respectful bow to our VIP collaborators (and apologies to those we’ve inevitably missed): Christa Rossner (for suggesting in the first place that Sooke needed an Earth Day event); Donna Patterson, Edith Newman and Jean Moncur for the delightful upcycled fashion show; DJ Ron Larson; music coordinator Peter Jonassen and musicians Bob Menzies, The Ed Fury Band, Eric & Linda James and Gord Phillips; PhoebeWood‘s Phoebe Dunbar for the inspiration and the beautiful raffle prize, the hard-working teenagers from the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps Admiral RC Waller; our poetry competition judge Wendy Morton; Rosanne Day, Sifu Koshin Moonfist, Frederique Philip, Glyse Clarkston, Carolyn Bateman, Ron Barry, Richard Sharman and George McFetridge for above-and-beyond volunteerism; ALL our volunteers (too many to mention, but we 💚 you too); Repair Cafe fixers Elgin Ambrose, Cyal Cassette, Dan Cottrell, Pam FitzGerald, Triston Line, Jeremy Newell and Tina Saikaley; the Victoria Electric Vehicle Club and their sparkling array of wheels; our line-up of PEP Talkers (Guy Dauncey, Project HOWL‘s Finn Unger, Wild Wise Sooke‘s Debbie Read & Sam Webb, Forest Adam, Steve Unger, Melanie Fast, Andrew Moore, Jenny Ambrose); the kids from Amber Academy Youth Fine Arts Society – Sooke; Sooke Mayor Maja Tait for joining us with Ewan for the opening ceremony; Councillor Brenda Parkinson for making the motion and the District Of Sooke council as a whole for its unanimous and generous foundational funding of our fledgling event; and all our other valued major sponsors, namely Capital Regional District, Interactive Construction, Sooke Home Hardware, Building Centre & Furniture Stores, Speedsource Fitness 24hr Access, Tesla Tours, Vancity, Viridian Energy Co-Operative and Wittich Environmental Svc. Again, without all of the above … 

It took a village (part 3): Extending thanks to our many supporters who contributed prize packages, gift certificates, silent auction items, forethought, and all round cheerleading. Hat tips all around to (in alpha order) 17 Mile House Pub, Academy of Excellence Hair Design & Aesthetics Ltd., Amber Academy Youth Fine Arts Society – Sooke, The Artisan’s Garden, BC Transit, Bits of Bliss Confectionery, Spirit Bay Developments Cafe, Cathy’s Corner Cafe, Dakini Tidal Wilds, upcycler Edith Newman, Glenrosa Farm Restaurant, Go With the Flow Technologies, Great Canadian Dollar Store Sooke, Guy Dauncey, Hara Sushi Japanese Restaurant, Project HOWL, Jenny’s Country Pantry & Tea Shoppe, Kelz Sweet & Savory Bake Shop, Little Vienna Bakery, Livin’ the Dream Farm, Mai Mai’s Bistro, Mom’s Cafe, @Nyoka, Pacific Mobile Depots, Pizzability Glen Lake and Sooke, Route 14 Sooke, SEAPARC, Serious Coffee – Sooke, SFRS Community Thrift Store, Sheila Wallace‘s Coastal Crunch, Shirley Delicious Cafe, Sooke buy & sell – The store, Sooke Family Resource Society, Sooke Montessori Jr Kindergarten, Sooke Mountain Cycle LTD, Sooke News Mirror, Sooke PocketNews, Sooke Region Museum, Saint Vincent De Paul Thrift Store, Stick In The Mud Coffee House, Stoked Wood Fired Pizzeria, Tomi’s Home Cookin, @Touch of Class Chimes, Village Food Markets, Vivienne Gibson Green, West Coast Refill, West Coast Grill at the Prestige Ocean Front Resort Sooke BC, Westcoast Natural Foods, Western Foods, Weston A. Price Foundation, Victoria BC Chapter, West Shore Voice News, Wild Mountain, Windsor Plywood and the Zero Waste Emporium.

Thank you #Sooke. 


Third (First Anniversary) Repair Cafe

Once again, we’re issuing the call to everyone in Sooke to bring their out-of-sorts gizmos, gadgets, chain saws and whatevers to the  Sooke Repair Cafe #3 (First Anniversary) on Sunday, April 22. It’s one big, critical (to the 5Rs worldview) aspect of our town’s Planet Earth Party: A Sooke Region Earth Day Celebration.  Our coordinator Bernie Klassen has again rounded up an ace crew to assess, troubleshoot and hopefully return to working order whatever you carry in through the door. Hearty hat tip to (in alphabetical order) Elgin Ambrose (wood repairs), Cyal Cassette (bike tune-ups), Dan Cotterell (soldering), Pam FitzGerald (sewing/mending), Paula Johanson (knitted goods), Triston Line (networking demonstration), Jeremy Newell (general repairs), Benoit Renault (electro-mechanical) and Tina Saikaley (appliances). Doors will be open from 10 am to 3 pm, and you’re again invited to bang a gong and drop a donation in the tip jar for any successful repairs.

Cleaning Up for Earth Day 2018

Beecher Bay, East Sooke, District of Sooke, Otter Point, Shirley … and with the promise of more clean-up action to come throughout the Sooke region. The total haul: Five dumpsters packed to the brim (with recycling and metal duly sorted out, of course).  Thank you AGAIN Sooke Region residents! 🙂



Sooke Region Clean-Up on April 14: The Fine Print

Here’s how to participate in the definitive good, clean fun that will be part of the Sooke Region Communities Clean Up, set for Saturday, April 14.

Download the registration form here. Once you’ve filled it out, please email coordinator Wendy O’Connor (  If you have any questions, please call Wendy at 250-361-6569.

Fine print about the clean-up:  Teams can get busy anytime on April 14 and continue as long as they like. Metal, garbage and plastic recycling bins will be set up in strategics spots in each community. Select an area to clean up that is near and dear to you (neighbourhood, favourite spot, an area that has you concerned, even your own backyard or garage). Then check in with Wendy to see whether or not another team has already chosen that area. Feel free to come up with a team theme, crazy team names, wear costumes (while still staying safe), and challenge others to compete against your team! 

 Team Captains can pick up their team kits (high visibility safety vests, gloves and bags) and attend a very short safety briefing with Moonfist, Sooke’s own litter buster hero, at the Stick in the Mud Coffeehouse on Thursday and Friday afternoons, April 12 and 13, between 3 and 5 pm. 


The duties of a team captain are: 1) setting a time frame for your clean-up; 2)  picking up the team kit and listening to the aforementioned  safety briefing with Wendy and Moonfist; 3)  distributing the kits to team members; 4) ensuring team members sign a waiver (if you’re working within District of Sooke boundaries); and finally, when the job’s complete, 5) submitting a team snap of you and your haul + a copy of your registration form and any waivers.

Prizes in a wide variety of categories will be awarded at the Planet Earth Party set for the Sooke Community Hall on Earth Day itself a week later. We’re hoping clean-up crews will be in action across the region on April 14 — Scia’new First Nation, East Sooke, District of Sooke, T’Sou-ke First Nation, Otter Point, Shirley, Jordan River, Port Renfrew and the Pacheedaht First Nation included.

Okay, now let’s team-up to clean-up the Sooke region!  Once more with feeling: Thanks to our sponsors & supporters ~  District of Sooke (foundational funding), Capital Regional District, PMD Recycling Solutions and Sooke Disposal Limited.