Your Community, Your Impact

If you’ve read my previous articles you know my passion for waste reduction lies in composting. As much as I love my worms they are just one tool in the shed for managing waste. I would like to explore some quirkier community initiatives, programs, and personal practices for waste reduction that are easily obtainable in the Valley. So, here is a list of a few feel good habits and awesome local programs to support a happy, healthy, Fernie!
1. Bagless is the New Black- The ‘Zero Plastic Project’ initiated by Wildsight was taken up by many local businesses like ducks to water. You’ll likely find most stores in town no longer offer bags unless requested and have done away with the classic white plastic bag and replaced it with its prim and proper paper partner. You can find free reusable bags offered outside of many stores in Fernie. At Save-On-Foods, you can also request paper bags if you have forgotten your reusable ones at home. 
Is the bulk food section leaving you burdened with tiny baggies? There are a number of reusable bags on the market for this very purpose that can keep those little guys from multiply in your kitchen drawers. If you really want to go the extra mile, literally, you can check out Full-Fill, the new zero waste store in Kimberly. Fill up on everything from nut butter to natural house hold cleaners without ever adding a new container to your life!
2. Eating Out Without the Impact: There are so many wonderful businesses in Fernie who work hard to provide excellent meals as well as being mindful of what their leaving behind. Many have switched from Styrofoam take out containers to biodegradable options. Better yet, you can bring your own Tupperware if you know your tendency is to have eyes bigger than your stomach.
Of course, I have to give a shout out to my own crew; the following five local business have partnered with Valley Vitals to create a Green Team: Big Bang Bagels, Blue Toque, The Brickhouse, Curry Bowl, and Nevados. In just over two months they have already removed over five tons of food waste from going in the trash and in the process made some chickens very happy! The Blue Toque even takes left over chopsticks and provides them for kindling! I like to use them as seed markers in my garden. 
Many businesses have also done away with plastic straws; you only need to watch one video of a straw being torn from a turtle’s nostril to be encouraged to do without. Need to stir your Caesar? Consider a spoon!
3. The Plague that is Packaging: I challenge you on your next shopping trip to try and fill your cart without filling it with plastic. Nearly impossible is it not? While we are not yet in the position to have a local zero-waste grocery store, our own shopping habits can go a long way. Buying in bulk is an excellent way to cut down on both packaging and cost. Try to buy produce in cardboard boxes instead of plastic bags; Earl’s Fruit Stand is an excellent option for this! Maybe skip on the crackers that are packaged in plastic, then cardboard, then plastic again. 
Shopping local has never been so easy with the Fernie Mountain Market, the Baynes Lake Farmers Market, and Kootenay Farm-to-Folk online ordering. There are numerous local farmers and ranchers that are working hard to bring you the both most sustainable food and in the most eco-friendly packaging. Help them out by bringing your own wicker basket on your next weekend market outing. 
4. Fernie Fresh Food Share: The superhero, Nicole Knauf, and her team of food fighter volunteers have tackled the challenge of food waste in Fernie with their food share program. Businesses that would have been forced to throw out perfectly good day-old or ‘not so pretty’ produce can now donate their goodies. You can find everything from celery sticks to cinnamon rolls! Did I mention you can pick them up for free? You can see what sweet treats are new this week on their Facebook page @ferniefreshfoodshare. 
See you next month, and the mean time, support your local farmer!