Winter 2016 Update

Clean-ups, surveys, meetings + a few ideas for a merry Zero Waste Christmas

Busy times for the Zero Waste Sooke team.  Our Wendy O’Connor, Jo Phillips and Jeff Bateman presented the “Talk Trash” Open Space report to District of Sooke council last month, in the process identifying three requests for municipal action: i) Staff investigation of the possibilities for a full-service Resource Recovery Centre in Sooke; ii) A plastic reduction and/or ban-the-bag initiative; and iii) the installation of drinking water fountains in key spots around town. We were pleased with the response, and are excited to see how things develop (while also doing our part to move these ideas forward as best we can and keep them on the District’s radar).

On the plastic front, Jo has been surveying Sooke retailers for their thoughts on a possible local ban-the-bag bylaw. Chain outlets couldn’t comment given that major decisions of this kind are made in head office, however a number of locally owned retailers (including Home Hardware, Village Foods and A Sea of Bloom) would favour a ban on single-use plastic bags provided it applied to all retailers in the District. Given that it has a sister store in Langford, Western Foods would like to see a CRD-wide ban, while several retailers are fine with the status quo. A key piece in this process is public education, and ZWS designer Zach Ogilvie is now working on BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) signage that could be hung outside Sooke stores.


October started with our second (maybe annual considering how much fun it is) ProjectServe day of volunteerism in Sooke. We again welcomed a squad of University of Victoria students to town for a roadside clean-up that netted ten bags of litter, some large items tossed into the Wadams Way forest and countless cigarette butts; special thanks to Sifu Moonfist and the District’s Jessica Boquist (back row right in this gleeful photo) and Laura Hooper for their help. After lunch, we escorted our volunteers to Sunriver Community Garden for a different but no less essential kind of clean-up.

At our request, Mayor Maja Tait declared the week of Oct. 17 “Waste Reduction Week in Sooke.”  Wendy worked with staff and students at John Muir Elementary School to set up a litter-less lunch and a waste audit.  And at that week’s regular Zero Waste meet-up at the Sooke library, she demoed the Queen of Green laundry soap recipe. It’s simple and effective, no Borax is involved and the cost is just seven cents a load.

Looking ahead, the November 17 meeting at the library will feature a presentation on electronics reuse and recycling by Triston Line, a Grade 12 EMCS student involved with the school’s award-winning Robotics team.  And at a zero-waste Christmas workshop at the library on Dec. 14 (6-7 p.m.), Wendy will demo a Japanese practice known as “furoshiki” that allows you to wrap objects of various shapes and sizes in a single piece of cloth. No need at all for glittery, glitzy throwaway gift paper.

As ever, ZWS events are free of charge and everyone with an interest in turning Sooke into a model zero waste community is most welcome to attend. Please join us on the third Wednesday of almost (check our Facebook page for updates) every month at 6:30 p.m. at the Sooke library (thank you, Adrienne Wass). Nearly two years since our first meeting, we’re making encouraging progress. With more community interest and volunteer support, we’re excited to explore other initiatives and directions in the year ahead (for instance, we’d like to follow the lead of the Otter Point, Shirley and Jordan River Resident and Ratepayers Association, which has done some awesome work this year in posting signs and cleaning-up notorious illegal dumping spots in their region). Thank you Debb, Bill, Brenda, Marika, Rosemary, Meg and other good Sooke region neighbours for the effort and inspiration.