Green the City Vancouver is a visual documentation of Vancouver’s journey towards our goal of becoming the World’s Greenest City by 2020. space

Delicious, organic, local and re-usable. What else is there?

Avalon DairyOk, so being a graphic designer, I LOVE a nicely designed package, even better is when the package is re-usable, not just recyclable but 100% reusable, like in the good ole days when you could buy pop and return the glass bottles for refills. Seriously, what ever happend to that?

So the other day I was in Whole Foods to get some basics when for one reason or another my eyes landed on the Avalon Dairy classic milk bottle. I have no idea why I have not tried this before but it is delicious, local, organic and again in an amazing package. Bring the bottle back next time you go shopping and they send it back to be used again. PERFECT!!!

The only problem is is that the bottle is so nice I almost want to keep it. BUT reuse it either way and your good to go. Oh ya, and you get a buck back when you return it!

Great job Avalon!

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Cash Reward for Great Green Ideas!

Do you know youth with great green ideas? Vancouver Foundation has launched a special initiative called Generation Green Awards, which will provide cash awards of up to $12,500 for environmental projects created by young people.

The awards are:

• for people 6-24 years old
• open to individuals or groups
• for projects taking place in Vancouver

There’s lot of cash available for local, green projects – nice!! In each age group, there are awards for small ideas ($1,250) and big ideas ($12,500).

Age 6-12
3 awards of $1,250
3 awards of $12,250

Age 13-17
3 awards of $1,250
3 awards of $12,250

Age 18-24
4 awards of $1,250
4 awards of $12,250

Visit to check out the great design, and submit ideas or photos. Event sponsored by Filthy Cleaning, check out their natural alternative cleaning tips to make sure every inch of your house is safe and sanitary.

I can’t wait to see what fantastic ideas these bright young minds dream up! The deadline is March 4, 2011 so think fast!

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Deck the halls with…a living christmas tree!

Photo by: Jaime Kowal

I love seeing product and service offerings that provide smart, sustainable options that meet existing consumer demands. Changing consumer behavior can be a lengthy process, so I am a big supporter of creative problem solving in the meantime. One of the most exciting offerings I saw this holiday season was the option to rent a locally grown, live, potted evergreen.

This year, there were two companies in the greater Vancouver area offering environmentally friendly Christmas trees – Carbonsync Christmas in Squamish, and Evergrow Christmas Trees in Burnaby. Both companies offered to drop off your selected tree at your door and pick it up at the end of the holiday season, either to be given to habitat restoration groups for replanting, or to returned to the nursery to be cared for until it can be rented out again.

Apparently this service really hit the mark, because both companies completely sold out this season!!

In the December 2009 issue of Oprah Magazine, Nina Shen Rastogi reported that the average conifer can absorb 1 ton of carbon over 60 years. She also reported that:

  • 28.2 million real Christmas trees were sold in the United States in 2008
  • 8.9 million artificial trees were imported to the United States in 2008
  • 7.3 pounds of plastic, mostly polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in a typical artificial tree
  • A consumer must use an artificial tree for 20 years before it has a lower carbon footprint than a real tree

It’s insane to cut down millions of trees to use for one week during the holidays, and then throw into landfills! I hope the ‘live’ Christmas tree will be a ‘growing’ trend in the future…

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Vancouver’s Solar Homes Pilot Project

Photo: Rob Baxter

So here’s the deal…according to the City of Vancouver, water heating accounts for 25-30% of residential energy use. THAT’S A LOT, and in Vancouver’s climate, solar hot water systems can provide up to 60% of the energy required for water heating.

The City of Vancouver’s Solar Homes Pilot is offering $4,300 towards the cost of solar hot water systems in Vancouver – this is roughly 50 per cent of the cost of a system. The funding is available to 30 homes on a first come, first served basis. In order to qualify for the rebate, your system must be installed by December 31, 2010. Beginning January 1, 2011, the city will be offering $3,000. Systems must be installed by February 15, 2011.

Pretty sweet deal in my books!

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500,000 Children and a Zero Waste Future

Photo: David Cooper w/permission from DreamRider

DreamRider Theatre’s mission is to build a generation of ecologically-responsible citizens. Through live theatre and multimedia, DreamRider introduces the fundamentals of environmental awareness and action to school-age children. Every year they provide 250-300 performances free to schools, engaging 60,000 youth. Over the past ten years, they have performed live theatre for over a half a million Greater Vancouver kids!  Impressive.

Their new live show for the 2011 season is called Zero Heroes – a play envisioning a bright green future with zero waste. They’ve also produced a fun pilot webisode – the first of their environmental education comedy series, called Esmerelda Superspy: Walk to School. Can Esmeralda Superspy Planet Protector and her sidekick Goober stop the Evil Dr. Carbon’s dastardly plan to stop kids from walking to school? Grab your kids and find out!

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Seeds of Plenty

Photo: Jaime Kowal

Just got word of an emerging CSA in Vancouver. Urban Grains has over 300 members and is growing fast in more ways than one!

Being the first community supported agriculture program to provide local grain to people living in the Vancouver area, Urban Grains started in 2008 as a pilot project. Aiming to demonstrate new possibilities for local eating, UG provides Vancouver residents with access to grain grown locally in Agassiz, B.C.

Check it out and get your grain on!

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Shared Harvest – the Craigslist of Community Food Sharing

Photo: Jaime Kowal

Last night Ryan and I attended the final installment of the Museum of Vancouver’s popular Food and Beers Speaker Series, hosted by The Tyee’s editor David Beers. The discussion explored what’s new in the world of food writing in the city, and was part of the current exhibition Home Grown: Local Sustainable Food. The exhibit features documentary photographs highlighting local food production in the city by photographer Brian Harris.

I learned about a website called Shared Harvest, which is essentially a Craigslist-type resource for community food sharing. It’s an online food hub where farmers, retailers, fishers, restaurants, charities, schools, and community members source and list food and agricultural products for sale or donation. I hopped online today and found out about a Basic Pruning and Tree Care Workshop happening in February, and the availability of local, craft beer-infused sausages made with unmedicated meats and award-winning beer from BC’s best microbrews. YUM!

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Urban Orchard – Apples in the alleys?

Photo: London Permaculture’s Flickr photostream

The crew at Evergreen are busy working on crafting a great new project for 2011.

Located in Vancouver’s False Creek Flats, the Urban Orchard will be in the heart of the Great Northern Way Campus. The space will be transformed in 2011 into a community-based orchard, with up to 80 fruit and nut trees and other edible plants.  All to provide nutritious food to the local community as well as a space for engaging people of all ages and backgrounds.

Urban orchards are growing in popularity across North America and Europe as effective land management strategies to enhance community food security, increase the urban forest canopy and connect communities with nature and local food production.

To find out more about this project or to get involved, contact Allison Houser at

Can’t wait till harvest time!!!!

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Green Over Grey’s fabulous vision for a greener city

Last night Mike Weinmaster’s presentation at Pecha Kucha Night v14 wowed the audience. He and his partner Patrick Poiraud are the founders of Green over Grey, a visionary company offering both interior and exterior vertical garden design services. They have created the largest outdoor green wall in North America, located at the Semaihmoo Sky Garden in Surrey. This design covers almost 3000sq ft, has over 10,000 plants and represents 120 species!

Mike presented a radical vision to literally green Vancouver by covering some of the ‘fugliest’ buildings in the city with living walls. Not only do these living walls beautifully transform our urban landscape, but they provide buildings with protection from the elements, purify the air, provide energy savings, dampen noise pollution and provide owners with LEED Credits. Wouldn’t you love to see this happen?

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Vancouver’s Future

What does Vancouver’s future as a global leader in sustainability look like? The City of Vancouver’s Sustainability Group asked us to present a multimedia show at their event Ideas Slam with Mayor Gregor Robertson in October, 2010. We curated a selection of images of Vancouver’s past, present and future integrating the theme of sustainability. The presentation was accompanied with live improvisation by Veda Hille and Maria in the Shower to a sold-out crowd. Here is our collection of images of the future, many of which were curated from Vancouver Public Space Network’s Where’s the Square Contest.

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