Archive for the ‘Waste’ Category

Meet the EcoStar Summer Camp Staff

Green Venture is getting ready for their first EcoStar camp! With topics like Bugs & Blooms, H2Whoa that’s a lot of Water, and EcoExplorers, campers are sure to learn new skills and an appreciation for the environment around them.  As camp director I’m excited to introduce our two camp counselors Bright Eyes and Dandy.

 

A message from Bright Eyes:

Hi everyone!

My name is Bright Eyes, I’m the Environmental Programs Assistant and Camp Counsellor for EcoStars! I’m so excited to meet all of my campers and spend my time in the great outdoors. I’ve been living in Hamilton for three years now and can’t get enough of the hiking and waterfalls; needless to say, I’m pretty stoked for our hiking trips. When not hanging from the side of a tree you can find me in our crafts room (where the magic happens). I’m hoping to kick-start some really awesome art projects this summer, and will definitely need some campers that aren’t afraid of getting their hands dirty.

I study science at McMaster, and have fronted some neat science projects at past camps. I’m really excited to bring these experiments to EcoStars, and add an environmental twist!

Although I am new to the Green Venture family this year, I already feel accepted and proud to be working with such environmentally-forward individuals. I’m now even more excited to welcome our campers aboard, and cannot wait for camp to begin!

 

Staff Pic Bright eyes

 

 

A message from Dandy:

Hi there!

My name is Dandy and I am super happy to be a part of the EcoStars camp this summer! I study science at McMaster so I love to analyse things and figure out exactly how they work. I am especially stoked for the “Bugs and Blooms” week because I like learning about how animals, insects, and plants interact with each other. My favorite tree is the Willow tree and my favourite animal is the Cheetah. I am an avid hiker, paddler, and skier. I recently started bird watching and I hope to learn some bird calls during the time spent outdoors at the camp.

I first became interested in the idea of sustainable living when I saw An Inconvenient Truth as a kid. Being a counselor at EcoStars camps gives me great chance to share my knowledge concerning sustainability to the leaders of tomorrow all while having a blast in the great outdoors!

Dandy Pic

The camp takes place at EcoHouse in east Hamilton, and there is a cost of $175+hst per week.  For more information or to register, visit greenventure.ca, email education@greenventure.ca, or call 905-540-8787 x154.

 

Hope to see you all at camp

Virginia

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Climate Change Action of the Month: Hamilton Conservation Authority and E-Waste

Written by: Ashley Keenan

This year the Hamilton Conservation Authority held an e-waste recycling day that yielded 850lbs of electronics that could then be recycled sustainably. Think about all the waste that this one event diverted from the landfill!

What is E-Waste?

In simple terms e-waste is short for electronic waste and includes everything that has ever run on batteries or a plug – including the batteries and plugs themselves! E-waste is a fairly new environmental issue compared to some since the technologies are new themselves. One thing is for certain, every year we produce more and more e-waste as many aspects of our lives are digitized.

E-waste Includes:

  • Batteries – household and automotive
  • PCs and Laptops
  • Monitors
  • TV’s
  • Printers
  • Wheel WeightsE-Waste
  • Capacitors
  • Circuit Boards
  • GPS Units
  • Radios
  • Pagers
  • Power Tools
  • Calculators
  • Toner Cartridges
  • Mercury Devices

Why is E-Waste an Environmental Issue?

  • Toxic Leachate – Electronics contain toxic chemicals such as mercury, cadmium, lead, phosphors, arsenic, and beryllium which lead to environmental and health complications, which is why e-waste is banned from local landfills, but many people still throw out these products in the trash releasing these toxic chemicals into the landfill – contaminating soil and groundwater over time.
  • Toxic Emissions – In some areas of the globe, much of the e-waste created is being illegally exported to developing countries like China and India for disposal due to their less strict environmental laws and regulations. Most of this waste gets incinerated, releasing the toxic chemicals discussed directly into the atmosphere.
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions – Both production and disposal create large amounts of GHG emissions that can contribute to climate change. This is amplified when e-waste is not disposed of properly or shipped to other countries for disposal.
  • Creation of Unnecessary Waste – Most of the time when we get a new phone or laptop it isn’t actually necessary; there is usually an upgrade or exciting new gadget that catches our eye. By approaching consumerism that way we create unnecessary waste, a cycle that continues as demand continues. There are so many steps that go into making electronics – mining the minerals, manufacturing, distribution, purchasing and disposal. Anything we can do to ease this never-ending cycle can make huge impact. Check out the Story of Stuff for more on the lifecycle of electronics.

Think Globally, Act Locally

When tackling the issue of e-waste and all the environmental problems that come with it every municipality and country has different regulations so be sure to check out what rules apply to you when disposing of e-waste. In Hamilton, you can bring any items that are not permitted in the landfill to a Community Recycling Centre to have it disposed of properly.

In addition to municipal drop centres and e-waste drives like the one hosted by the HCA there are also drop offs at many of the large electronic store chains like Best Buy that will collect and recycle your e-waste in a safe and sustainable manner.

What can you do?

Here are some next steps any individual can take to reduce e-waste volumes if possible or recycle the materials properly

  • Reduce and Reuse whenever Possible – it can be difficult with new technologies coming out on a yearly basis to not upgrade; in fact they do this on purpose to tempt you! Your 3 year old phone still works perfectly but all your friends have shiny new models and you think why not – think twice
  • Recycle – If you have to have the latest and greatest in technology but your old device is still functional then recycle it! Whether you gift it to a friend in need or you try and sell it, recycling prevents the need for someone else to go out and purchase their own new product. Old electronics can also be donated and given out to low income areas who might not be able to have their own computer otherwise. Just remember to wipe all your personal information before donating electronics.recycle mobius loop
  • Share! – Tell people about what you have accomplished; it is ok to celebrate doing something good. Also by sharing your stories you unconsciously invite others to make similar changes as well. The key to environmental initiatives is awareness and engagement, by sharing your stories you let people know what is possible on an individual level.
  • NEVER throw E-waste in the garbage – In no situation should you ever throw e-waste in your garbage bins. It can be tempting to think ‘it’s just one battery’ when you are in a hurry but like I have been saying; small actions lead to large changes. If everyone in Hamilton threw out just 1 battery a week there would be over 500 000 batteries in the landfill every single week! Tip: Save all your small electronics in a jar or bin and when it is full take it to a drop-off location. This saves your time by not making a special trip every time you need to dispose of a battery and keeps it out of our landfills.

Local actions are capable of global changes and can be as simple as saving all your batteries in a jar and disposing of them properly when it is full. Leave us a comment below and share what small actions you do that add up to help the environment!

Climate Change Action of the Month: The Green Cottage

Start Climate Change awareness at the home! That is what the Green Cottage in Hamilton has done, this house has many ecofriendly features, which helps eliminate its lasting effects on the climate. The house, located in the north end of Hamilton by the harbour, was originally built in 1885 with many similar houses surrounding it, but since then it has had some major renovations, and although the house does not look much different than the ones surrounding it the Green Cottage is unlike any home in Hamilton.

The Green Cottage

The Green Cottage

Starting on the outside the house is trimmed with salvaged wood, reclaimed wood helps eliminate the process of manufacturing and saves a few trees from being cut down in the process. The house is also insulated on the outside, this is called Exsulation, which provides more thermal heating for the house, eliminating most of the use of furnaces. The roof is also adorned with many solar panels and solar water heaters. Up to 30% of new greenhouse gases around the globe are contributed by non-renewable energy, and using solar energy as an alternative helps to decrease that number and the impacts of climate change.

On the inside the house is NOT equipped with a clothing dryer, air conditioner, stove, refrigerator or microwave! With the house lacking these amenities they are not sucking out energy for appliances that are not essential for everyday needs. The Green Cottage has significantly reduced its energy use, and has set a very high standard for energy conservation.

The house is also surround by a vigorous and beautiful garden. The garden creates green space in a mostly asphalt ridden area, and the plants not only look great but they are absorbing carbon dioxide and eliminating that from out atmosphere. The Green Cottage has gone above and beyond to eliminate their negative effects on climate change and the environment in general. This house is not only proof that you can take an old home and make environmental improvements, but it also demonstrates the many changes you can make a home level.

Written by: Brittney Massey

Get Involved with Green Venture

Green Venture is a non-profit organization and, like many non-profits, we rely on the help of community volunteers for many of our projects. Whether it’s weeding a garden, guiding a tour, promoting Green Venture at an event or taking part in a clean-up, our volunteers help in all kinds of ways.

Having fun after a volunteer cleanup event

Having fun after a volunteer cleanup event

Many of our volunteers get involved with Green Venture for various  reasons. Everyone is different but most volunteers have a few things in common and many volunteer because they want to help the environment, get experience, learn skills, meet new people and have fun. Some people also volunteer to add to a resume or earn volunteer hours for high school.

Green Venture has several ways you can get involved, including maintaining the grounds at our EcoHouse, joining us at special events or helping lead a tour (for more details on these opportunities, visit our website). These are not the only ways people volunteer with Green Venture though, we also have interns, co-op students and all of our board members are volunteers.

Making paper during an EcoHouse open house

Making paper during an EcoHouse open house

Getting involved is easy:

  • Sign up for our Green Post (online Volunteer Mailing List) to receive regular updates on volunteer opportunities
  • Email volunteer (@) greenventure.ca to receive a Volunteer Application and information about current opportunities to volunteer
  • Visit Green Venture’s EcoHouse or speak with us at an event to learn more about volunteering
  • If you have skills or experience you would like to share as a volunteer let us know!

We hope you will come out and volunteer with us soon!

NEW! EcoHouse Greywater System

At Green Venture we are very excited to say that we are in the process of installing a greywater system for our EcoHouse! A greywater system recycles wastewater from showers, baths, sinks, laundry machines or rainwater on-site. The system then reuses that same wastewater for either irrigation or toilet water. With greywater not only will you be diminishing the amount of water you take from the waterways, you will also be saving on your water bill, helping you while you help the environment. On average, a greywater system saves a residential home between 30-40% on their annual water bill.

Here at Green Venture we obtain our greywater from rainwater runoff from a portion of our roof. We then recycle that water through our greywater system and the same water is used for flushing our dual flush toilet. Before the greywater reaches the toilet bowl it is purified through a BARC tank, which eliminates any floating or sinking substances. After the filter gets rid of unwanted substances, the greywater is stored for future cn toweruse. The system will also automatically flush down the greywater if that water is stagnant for too long, or there is too much greywater to store. By using the rainwater runoff from just a section of the roof, Green Venture will be conserving over 20,000L of water per year. That means less fresh water being extracted from local waterways, saving on water bills and doing our part to live more sustainably.

The greywater system allows us to conserve a significant amount of water as the toilet is responsible for using up to 30% of a household’s water usage. On average a family of four who uses a dual-flush toilet will use around 28,000L of water per year for flushing alone. That amount of water could fill over 50,000 conventional sized water bottles. If you stack all of the water bottles on top of one another they would be over two and a half times taller than the CN tower building.

The greywater system can be installed on both a residential and commercial scale.

Although we are only collecting greywater from our rain runoff most locations incorporate wastewater from sinks, showers/baths and laundry machines. If you were to incorporate the wastewater from your sink and if while brushing your teeth you left the sink on for two minutes then you would have accumulated 32L of wastewater. Our dual flush toilet only uses 4L per flush, therefore, those 32L of wasted water from brushing your teeth could sustain up to 8 flushes of the toilet.

The greywater system is an innovative solution to recycling our water. Even the Mars Desert Research Station uses greywater, and experiments with having the greywater
system used for future potential trips to Mars. Not only is the greywater system helping us protect our environment, but it’s allowing us to bring and sustain water in place where we never could before.

Written by: Brittney Massey

Indoor Composting with Red Wiggler Worms

Do you live in an apartment or house with no backyard and still want to compost? The solution to your composting needs are worms, Red Wiggler Worms! These worms are the most common species of worm used for indoor composting. What’s so great about indoor composting? Indoor composting is a great way to reduce the amount of waste you produce and create nutrient-filled compost for your plants and garden when you have a limited amount of outdoor space. VermicompostingUsing Red Wiggler worms to compost is odour-free and a fast way to break down kitchen scraps with very little maintenance. Red wigglers can consume large amounts of organic material, digest it, extract its food value and expel the residue as worm castings, which are very rich in nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Under ideal conditions each worm can consume its own body weight in one day. Pick of some of these worms from Green Venture in two litre quantities that include worms, bedding and some worm castings to start your indoor composter off right. Pick up a worm chalet or you can even make your own composter by drilling holes for aeration into two Rubbermaid containers with a lid (find out how here). Indoor worm composters use little space, produce high nutrient compost and reduce your garbage output, so why not start your own today!

Written By: Christine van Beest

Davis Creek Clean Up (My Green Adventures Part 1 of 5)

My Green Adventures is Green Venture’s open house event, taking place on Saturday October 13th from 10AM until 3PM, at our demonstration home, EcoHouse (22 Veevers Drive, Hamilton).  In the weeks leading up to My Green Adventures, we will feature blog posts highlighting some of the exciting activities taking place on October 13th.

_______________________________________

Come early on October 13th and help Green Venture and the local community to clean up the area around Davis Creek.  Roadside litter is a significant issue in our neighbourhood.  Some litter makes its way down to the side of Davis Creek as it winds its way towards the Red Hill Creek.  Green Venture, along with some great partners from Lowe’s, the Clean City Liaison Committee and the Bay Area Restoration Council (BARC) are organizing a community clean up for the morning of October 13th.

This project will achieve two major goals.  Firstly, the litter that is collected during the clean up will be audited by Green Venture staff to try and understand the most likely sources.  Then, Green Venture will propose strategies to prevent litter from accumulating at all.  Secondly, BARC will be conducting water quality sampling to assess the health of the creek.

No registration is required, just show up at 9AM willing to work for a couple of hours.  Volunteers taking part in the clean up will receive a voucher for lunch from one of the food trucks attending My Green Adventures (stay tuned for more on our food trucks!).

This project is generously funded by the Keep America Beautiful foundation through the Clean City Liaison Committee, and by Lowe’s.

For more information contact Matthew at matthew.sweet@greenventure.ca or at (905) 540-8787 x151.

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