Teaming Up to Clean Up the Sooke Region on April 14

Local teams are forming in communities across the Sooke region as residents enter into a friendly competition on Saturday, April 14 that will ensure the area is truly spick and span prior to the Sooke Region Earth Day Celebration the following weekend.

To register or learn more, contact Wendy O’Connor by email  or phone (250) 361-6965

Organizers are inviting teams of one or more people to register to clean up sections of where they live — big or small, beach or park, highway or byway, even private garages and backyards, it’s entirely up to the person or people involved. Teams can get busy anytime on April 14 and continue as long as they like.

Registration is free of charge. Bins for garbage, recycling and metal will be provided in each community and teams will be supplied with gloves and bags. (A few grabbers are also available, however it’s easy to create one by hammering a large finishing nail into a pole.)

When complete, participants are asked to take a fun photo of themselves alongside their haul, then submit it with a final registration form. 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, Sunday, April 22. The day-long celebration will involve an exhibition, Repair Cafe, vendors, family activities, upcycled fashion show, evening dance, zero-waste food trucks and more. It is presented by our parent organization Transition Sooke and ourselves in association with the Sooke Fall Fair Association and Creatively United for the Planet.

Ideally, 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.  Teams are already coming together, and there is no limit to the number of teams that can be involved across the region.

With warm thanks to our Sooke Region Communities Clean-Up sponsors & supporters …  District of Sooke (foundational funding), Capital Regional District, PMD Recycling Solutions and Sooke Disposal Limited.

Sooke Community Grant Report

On March 22, 2017, Zero Waste Sooke presented a grant request to the District of Sooke in the sum of $750 for assistance with the following:

  1. Roadside Clean-Up on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22
  2. Repair Cafes at the Sooke Community Hall (May 27, October 21)
  3. Visit by Victoria Compost Education Centre to the Sooke Country Market (July 8)

Each of our events was offered as a public service either free of charge or, in the case of successful fixes at the Repair Cafes, small donation.

Sincere thanks to the District of Sooke for this support, which is essential to a volunteer-run non-profit operating with a small reserve budget and no full-time staff. We trust that our work has helped the District meet its public education and outreach targets related to climate change.



Sooke Region Earth Day 2018 Celebration

Exciting news! We’re partnering with our parent organization Transition Sooke, the Sooke Fair Fall Association and Creatively United for a Sooke Region Earth Day Celebration on Sunday, April 22 at the Sooke Community Hall. A team of locals under the direction of event coordinator Marlene Barry have started meeting regularly and are planning a truly diverse, fun and meaningful family event.  Booths, exhibits, displays and activities are planned for the upstairs hall. Workshops will run in the lecture room. And our third Sooke Repair Cafe will proceed downstairs. We’re also hoping to organize another street clean-up (as we did on Earth Day 2017) to encourage folks to get outdoors on what ideally will be a perfect spring day and give our beautiful region a fresh shine and polish.

This year’s international Earth Day Network theme is “end plastic pollution,” and that fits perfectly with much of our work locally, of course. #BYOB.  If you’d like to get involved, the Earth Day Sooke working group welcomes your ideas, inspiration and, especially, your valuable time and energy. Please contact Marlene by email at to learn more. Okay, that’s all for now and stay tuned for more. Yes, we’re pumped about this one too! 🙂 

Furoshiki: Zero Waste Gift Wrap!

Who knew that scarves, t-shirts and random scraps of cloth could be put to such good, practical, zero-waste use?!! 

In addition to all its joys and pressure, the holiday season impells many of us to think about waste, notably the reams of festive gift wrap that is typically used once and then chucked.  Other cultures have solved this dilemma in style as our Wendy O’Connor will again demonstrate during a mini-workshop on the traditional Japanese art of Furoshiki ~ Wed. Nov. 15, 6:30 to 8 pm at the Sooke library.  

Those who took Wendy’s first workshop on the subject last Christmas were delighted at how fun and easy it is to learn this simple, wonderfully creative way to personalize your gifts.  Here’s one easy how-to article if you can’t make it to the library that night.

Stick around afterwards and learn more about Zero Waste Sooke at our regular third-Wednesday-of-the-month meeting. Warm thanks once more to the library’s staff for making their reference-room table available to community groups such as our own.

Sooke Repair Cafe #2: Photo Gallery

Snapshots by which to remember a fun and rewarding Sooke Repair Cafe #2. Our gong was sounded more than 25 times during the day to mark successful repairs, each time generating a round of cheers and the sound of cash being deposited into our donation jar. Warm thanks to all our fixers and all the Sookies who dropped in with either an item for repair or simply to enjoy the warm, communal atmosphere. We’ll be back again next spring and, in the meantime, be sure to hold onto any malfunctioning whatevers so that our team can do their thing next time. A memorable way to celebrate  International Repair Cafe Week as well as Waste Reduction Week in Canada and, thanks to Mayor Maja Tait’s declaration, in Sooke as well.

#BYOB Sooke

First raised as a wildmind idea at a Transition Sooke meeting some years ago, the BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) plastic-reduction/public awareness initiative is finally good to go.  Prominently posted reminder signs in parking lots and on storefronts have done the trick elsewhere in the world, so why not Sooke too?  After much planning, we’re happy to report that customized versions of our Zach Ogilvie’s eye-catching design will be going up at Home Hardware, Pharmasave, Village Food Markets and Western Foods in the days ahead. Sincere thanks to all these responsible retailers for signing on for what’s intended to be, among other things, a cure for the frustration we all feel when arriving at a check-out counter and only then remembering the pile of canvas bags stuffed in our back seats and car trunks.  Credits: Thank you Zach at Ogilvie Creative for the concept and design; Tony Green at Sooke Signs; and the team that approached and sought buy-ins from our town’s major local retailers ~ namely Jo Philips, Glyse Clarkston and her kids, Mark Ziegler (who broke ground with retailers on behalf of TS), several students from the Youth for Change team at Edward Milne Community School, and also pats on the back to ZWS regulars Wendy, Bernie and me too. Now everyone, please remember to #BYOB and let’s make reducing plastic use in the Sooke region an everyday habit.

Repair Café #2 – Saturday, Oct. 21 at the Community Hall

Broken zipper? Faulty clock radio? A toaster that won’t pop? Zero Waste Sooke’s Repair Café is your answer to the throwaway culture.   

Because it was so much fun the first time, we’re again rallying local volunteer fixers for a second Sooke Repair Café, Sat. Oct. 21 from 9 am to 1 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 someone 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.

Volunteers are confirmed for bicycle repairs, wood and furniture, textiles and fabrics, and small appliances. Workshops on tool maintenance and the art of converting old t-shirts into funky fun shopping bags will also be offered along with an encore demonstration of 3D printing and its mind-boggling potential. Coffee, tea and light refreshments will be available.

The Repair Café coincides with the final days of Waste Reduction Week in Canada, organized annually by recycling groups across Canada (including the Recycling Council of British Columbia). This year’s week has daily themes. Through a happy coincidence, the date we picked back in the spring turns out to be the national “swap, share and repair” day.  🙂

Anything that is broken is fair game — lamps, hair dryers, clothes, electronic appliances, furniture, bikes, toys and crockery included. No guarantees, but more than likely these items can be repaired by our fixers. And if not, well, it was broken anyway and it didn’t cost you anything. In deciding what to bring, please be sure you can carry it in yourself, i.e. no large appliances, please!

Note: We’re still building our list of go-to fixers for this and future events. Want to be involved? Drop us a line at And if you’d like to contribute in another way, we’re happy to receive donations of repair material (finishing nails, adhesives, screws, etc.) that we’ll be sure to recycle back into good use. (Large piles of unmarked bills also gladly accepted, of course, if you happen to be the philanthropist of whom we and all volunteer groups in Sooke routinely dream.) 

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 and this will be the second café in Sooke following the all-we’d-hoped-for-and-more debut in May. Zero Waste Sooke, a working group of Transition Sooke, operates these events under license with Repair Café International.

O’Connor notes that the cafés also promote skill training as experts share their know-how with those keen to learn. “It’s an ongoing learning process for everyone involved,” she says. “If you have nothing to repair, you’re still welcome to drop in, check things out and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee. Better still, you might be handy enough that you can help out with someone else’s repair job!”

Repairing rather than junking items saves money and resources while minimizing CO2 emissions that result from the manufacturing process. But above all “we just want to show how much fun repairing things can be and how easy it often is,” says ZWS coordinator Wendy O’Connor, who’s again organizing the day with colleague Bernie Klassen and the ZWS team.

Thanks to the District of Sooke for funding support through its 2017 Community Grants program for the two Repair Cafés and our Earth Day street clean-up. 


Talking Trash (encore) with the District of Sooke

Our Jo Phillips and Jeff Bateman returned to the District of Sooke’s Municipal Hall on July 10 to remind council that we’re still keen to see action on the three recommendations arising from our May, 2016 Talk Trash Open Space community meeting (which we first presented to the District last September). Our asks:  i) a full-service resource recovery centre with free store and affiliated upcycling businesses; ii) a ban-the-(single use plastic)-bag bylaw for Sooke; and iii) three-tier (adults, children and pets) drinking fountains as both a civic amenity and a solid step towards discouraging bottled water (which sells at the staggering rate of a million bottles a minute world-wide). Here’s a download of the latest paperwork we’ve presented:  ZWS July 10 delegation. The immediate good news is that Mayor Tait is eager to see the results of a model ban-the-bag bylaw that the CRD is now preparing with the City of Victoria and the Surfrider Foundation for potential use by any South Island municipality. Councillors remain keen about drinking water fountains in the town centre while also urging ZWS to seek partial funding through the CRD’s Environmental Services Committee. As for the resource centre, we know it’s a big-picture ask and that it will require strong leadership and zoning clarity from the District along with a private-sector partnership to become a reality.
Onwards we go with patience and persistence. 🙂  (pictured: an Elkay three-tier water bottle-fill station with bonus taps for adults and children; there’s also a model with a water bowl for dogs at the base, a variety of which can be seen at the Galloping Goose parking lot half-way down the Sooke River Road.)  

Good vibes, great turnout for debut Repair Cafe

A report from ZWS coordinator Wendy O’Connor, who organized our first Repair Cafe with Bernie Klassen

“If you could harness all the positive energy and good vibrations in the room at the Repair Cafe, I’m sure it would have powered my sewing machine.  Once again, the people of Sooke fill me with joy.  A call was put out by Zero Waste Sooke on social media that brought out volunteers of all ages, each one eager to help in some way, from the fixers to the water boy (who did much more than that).

A heartfelt thank you to all the volunteers that helped make this event so special. Check out the photo gallery here

You could hear Elgin’s drill, or the thud of a chair leg returning to it’s snug socket, the clacking of knitting needles as Paula and Sarah waited for customers to bring them their darning or woolen mending.  Garrath working his magic over kids as they raptly watched him pull apart their parents mixer and then get it to work again.  Garrath’s dad Chris worked cheerfully beside him on other electrical or small engine repairs.  Jeremy from Cast Iron Farm was busy getting radios and clocks working again, while outside the Russell family provided a group effort in getting bicycles into better running shape than how they came in.  At a station beside them Forest worked with kids at helping them use tools to assemble mini bat houses for them to take home.

Nick and Triston from the EMCS Robotics team fielded questions on the 3D printer they had set up and running, Marion gave a great little workshop on how to save tons of money while taking care of your probiotic health in the making of homemade kombucha.  Bernie came up with an awesome design of a raised fist holding a screwdriver — “DIY or Die” is the theme — and was silkscreening  t-shirts that people brought along. 

Sookies brought the sunshine in through the door with them along with their broken items. The day was a huge success, 28 people filled out registration forms, but we estimate that about 40 people brought multiple items for repair.  At least 21 items were repaired and kept out of the landfill. The list included several chairs, a chainsaw, sweat pants, hairdryer, picture frame, purse, electric drill, alarm clocks, pressure cooker, two lamps and a steady series of bikes. Inevitably, some items couldn’t be repaired, but others were diagnosed for further work. 


There are over 1300 Repairs Cafes throughout the world today, and more being added each month. This is a gathering movement of people wanting manufacturers to build better products that last longer, and are repairable, and of people recapturing the skills of their parents and grandparents.

I would love to see more senior citizens sharing their skills with us at the next Repair Cafe Sooke!  Coming to you again in October.”

Zero Waste Sooke is a working group of Transition Sooke, both are always on the lookout for more volunteers or team members. If you’re interested in helping Sooke become a more sustainable community, please get in touch via and/or

Sooke’s First Repair Cafe

Bring your tired, your huddled, your broken masses* of stuff to the Sooke Community Hall on Saturday, May 27 as we kickstart what we intend to be a Repair Cafe tradition in Sooke.

Local volunteer repair experts will gather downstairs at the hall that day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Their mission: To ensure that as many malfunctioning local household items as possible are repaired and returned to productive use. Bonus: The service is free of charge.

The family friendly event welcomes everyone in town to bring items for repair. Anything that is broken is fair game — lamps, hair dryers, clothes, electronic appliances, furniture, bikes, toys, teapots and crockery included. No guarantees, but more than likely these items can be repaired by the specialists. And if not, well, no harm, no foul, no cost in making the effort.

“We trash mountains of stuff on this planet and it’s got to stop,” says our Wendy O’Connor. “Many people have forgotten that they can have things repaired or have been convinced by manufacturers that it’s somehow easier to buy the latest, greatest models. These cafes are a fantastic reminder that we can maintain our possessions over the long term.”

Volunteers confirmed so far include Wendy and Paula Johanson (fabrics), Bernie Klassen and Elgin Ambrose (wood products), Garrath Morgan and his dad Chris (small appliances), and Cast Iron Farm‘s Jeremy Newell.

Additional volunteer fixers are welcome! If you’d like to participate in this cafe or a future one, please check in with our team leads Bernie and Wendy at

Other attractions on May 27: “Community Mike” Russell and his 10-year-old son Kasian will host bike repair clinics for adults and kids respectively. Marion Pettinger will demonstrate how to create healthy batches of kombucha. Bernie will demonstrate silk-screening techniques. And Triston Line from the EMCS Robotics team (and the EMCS Society Programs’ Makerspace work group) will introduce 3D printing.

There will also be a fun work station where youngsters can safely participate in building their own takeaway bat houses. As the Habitat Aquisition Trust has noted, bat populations on southern Vancouver Island are in decline for a variety of reasons and they need our help desperately.

Repair Cafes have become increasingly popular around the world since the first was held in Amsterdam in 2009. They now take place regularly in Victoria and occasionally elsewhere on Vancouver Island.  This will be the debut cafe in Sooke. Operating with a license from Repair Cafe International, ZWS is also planning a follow-up at the Makerspace once it opens at EMCS in the fall. 

O’Connor notes that the cafes promote skill training as experts share their know-how with those keen to learn. “It’s an ongoing learning process for everyone involved,” she says. “If you have nothing to repair, you’re still welcome to drop in, check things out and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee. Better still, you might be handy enough that you can help out with someone else’s repair job!”

Repair Cafes elsewhere are known for creating community connections as strangers become friends. “If you repair a bike, a CD player or a pair of trousers together with another resident, you look at that person in a new light when next you run into them on the street,” explains Wendy.

It almost goes without saying that repairing items rather than junking them saves money and resources while also minimizing the CO2 emissions that result from the manufacturing their replacements. “But above all,” says Wendy, “we just want to show how much fun repairing things can be and how easy it often is.”

*”masses of stuff” … this is a pun and paraphrase of a famous line etched onto the Statue of Liberty. You’re welcome to bring a selection of malfunctioning items that you can carry with you — no large appliances or automobiles, please. (yes, someone asked!) We’ll operate on a first-come, first-served basis, one item at a time.  You’ll be greeted at the door, assigned a number putting you in the queue for the appropriate work station. Coffee, tea, baked goods and some healthy snacks will be available by small donation.  You’re welcome to gather around our fixers as they work, picking up valuable insights into DIY repairs in the process. We’ll also have a table of repair how-to books to browse. And by all means say hello to whoever’s in your proximity and get to know your fellow Sookies! 🙂