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Waste reduction efforts pile up in North Okanagan

More than $67,000 handed out to five organizations for a variety of projects
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FoodMesh, an organization that works to build food recovery ecosystems by connecting organizations looking for alternatives to throwing out their unsalable or surplus food with a network of charities and farmers, is one of a handful of Regional District of North Okanagan 2023 spring ReTHINK Waste Grant recipients. (Black Press - file photo)

From food to construction waste, several local projects are trashing the idea of sending such garbage to the landfill.

The Regional District of North Okanagan’s ReTHINK Waste Project Grant Program has awarded thousands to six projects.

The successful applicants include FoodMesh ($45,000), Habitat for Humanity Okanagan ($10,000), Gaia Productions ($5,000), Destination Silver Star ($3,500 and $1,200), and Fresh Outlook Foundation ($2,500).

Funds awarded to these organizations support a wide range of projects aimed at preventing the creation of waste and diverting and reusing materials to support a local circular economy.

“An average of 500 kilograms of garbage per person ends up in RDNO landfills yearly,” said the regional district in a release.

“Wasted resources negatively impact our environment and are a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. Priority is given to waste reduction projects focused on the first 2 Rs – Reduce and Reuse.”

FoodMesh works to build food recovery ecosystems by connecting organizations looking for alternatives to throwing out their unsalable or surplus food with a network of charities and farmers. Through the program, FoodMesh will work to identify, expand and connect a network that supports the recovery of surplus food so that it can be put to its highest end use. For instance, quality surplus food can support charitable organizations like food banks, and leftover food that is no longer acceptable for people to eat can go to farmers for animal feed.

Habitat for Humanity’s Kitchen Salvage Program helps community members save money from contractor removal costs and waste disposal fees for kitchen renovations or demolition projects. Skilled Habitat staff and volunteers carefully remove kitchen cupboards, islands, pantries, vanities and appliances and resell them in their ReStores. This program diverts those kitchens from landfills and provides a ready supply of high-quality building materials at a low cost, representing an excellent example of the circular economy.

Gaia Productions is making a documentary about food waste solutions in B.C. called Food Synergy. The goal of the movie is to demonstrate how the food supply chain is connected and how the problems faced from farm to home and seed to soil can be solved with sound and practical solutions. The documentary is expected to be completed in 2023.

Destination Silver Star was awarded funding for two proposed projects. One is through their Bear Stewardship Group in support of a Black Bear Education Trail located around Brewer’s Pond. Grant funds would contribute towards installing two bear art pieces that encourage ReTHINKING waste, made of reusable materials and sharing stories which promote respectfully co-existing with wildlife. The second project involves creating educational material to support the community’s use of recently acquired composting and recycling facilities.

In collaboration with School District 22 and other community climate action leaders, the Fresh Outlook Foundation intends to develop and implement the Climate Action Ripple Effect (CARE). CARE engages youth and the broader community with on-the-ground projects that support a wide range of climate action initiatives, including waste reduction. Student projects were prepared and displayed at two CARE Summits in 2022, and another summit is planned for 2024.

If you have an idea for an innovative project that would benefit our region, or want to get tips on how to reduce waste, visit rdno.ca/rethink. Now is a great time to start planning ahead for 2024 projects as the grant program is expected to open for applications in fall 2023.

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roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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