Tuesday 28 July 2015

EcoSask News, July 28, 2015


Ferrets at the Library, July 29
The Saskatoon Zoo Society’s ferrets and educators will be at the Alice Turner Library from 10:30 -11:30 am, July 29. Admission is free but enrolment is limited, so register right away.

Field Trips
Golden Eagles 
Aug. 6, 7:30 am – Shorebirds
Aug. 13, 7:30 am – Warblers and Organic Market Garden Veggies
Aug. 20, 7:30 am – Acreage of Sherrill Miller and the late Courtney Milne

Other Nature Society Field Trips 
Aug. 3, 1:30-4:30 pm – Cranberry Flats Botany Walk
Aug. 8, 1:30-4 pm – Turkey Vulture Wing Tagging
Aug. 9, 1:30-4:30 pm – Butterflies V

Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details (e.g. some trips require rubber boots, others will be cancelled if the weather is bad).

Saskatoon’s Growth Plan
The City of Saskatoon has recently released a summary of long-term possibilities and an overview of community feedback to date on the City’s Growth Plan to Half a Million.

Water & Industry 
A proposed potash mine near Earl Grey, Saskatchewan, would use substantial amounts of water.

Water & Parks 
Wascana Centre in Regina is planning to overhaul its irrigation system and is considering planting more natural habitats that are better acclimatized to Saskatchewan and require less water.

Chaplin Wind Energy Project 
A wind energy project proposed for the Chaplin Lake area raises concerns about risks to native habitat and migratory birds (article by Trevor Herriot). Are the results of the environmental survey reliable, and is compensation adequate for such a valuable natural habitat?

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Tuesday 21 July 2015

EcoSask News, July 21, 2015

water lily

Weed Warrior, August
The Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan will be clearing invasive flowering rush from a wetland between Young and Watrous in August. Contact NPSS for specific dates and lend a hand.

Household Hazardous Waste, Aug. 15
The City of Saskatoon accepts household hazardous waste once a month at the SaskTel Centre from 9 am - 3:30 pm. The next Household Hazardous Waste Day is August 15.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar.

Nature Regina – Hidden Valley
Nature Regina owns a half section of land in the Qu’Appelle River Valley near Lumsden. Hidden Valley is small and ecologically fragile so access is limited to minimal impact activities. Contact Nature Regina if you would like to hike or take photographs on their property.

EcoFriendly Sask provided Nature Regina with a $1,000 EcoFriendly Action Grant to help pay for new signage around the property.

Saskatoon Landfill Goes Solar
If everything goes according to plan, solar panels owned by the SES Solar Co-operative will be powering a methane gas plant at the Saskatoon landfill by next year.

Blowing in the Wind
Do recent statements by SaskPower indicate an increased emphasis on renewable energy, such as wind?

SaskWind is pursuing a community wind project in southern Saskatchewan. Let’s hope it’s successful.

Protecting Citizens from Climate Change
A Dutch court recently ruled that greenhouse gas reduction is a state obligation. Here's what that could mean for the rest of the world.

Explaining Biodiversity to Kids
Chris Helzer, The Prairie Ecologist, has developed an activity to help explain biodiversity to kids.

Passive Energy Homes
Mainstream home builders need to recognize that householders care about how much it will cost to live in a house, not just how much it will cost to build.

A US study finds higher levels of ill health near fracking sites.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner). 

Tuesday 14 July 2015

EcoSask News, July 14, 2015


Shorebird Identification Workshop, July 15 
The Saskatoon Nature Society is offering a shorebird identification workshop from 7-9:30 pm, July 15, in Room 130, Physics Building, University of Saskatchewan. Photographs will help you to identify field marks of most species of shorebirds seen at this time of year. You can test your skills on the July 18 shorebird expedition.

Field Trips 
Golden Eagles 
July 9, 7:30 am – Native Prairie, Trails & Forge
July 16, 7:30 am – Boreal Aquatics
July 23, 7:30 am – Sarilia Estates and Langham Area
July 30, 7:30 am – Blackstrap and Area

Other Nature Society Field Trips 
July 18, 9 am – 4 pm – Shorebird Expedition
July 19, 1:30-4:30 pm – Dragonfly and Damselfly Viewing
July 22, 7-9 pm – Hudson Bay Slough Birding
July 25, 7-9 pm – Sanatorium Site Bird Walk
July 26, 1:30-4:30 pm – Butterflies IV

Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details (e.g. some trips require rubber boots, others will be cancelled if the weather is bad).

Managing Our Water 
Restrictions: River levels in Saskatchewan are at a record low, and John Pomeroy, Canada Research Chair in Water Resources and Climate Change, says California-style water restrictions may be needed in the near future. “For the immediate future, precision water management would be the best way to handle a drought crisis next year, Pomeroy said. We have to look at water use over the Saskatchewan River Basin as a whole instead of three separate provinces and with federal interest in the headwaters, and say, 'With limited water, what's the best use of that water?'"

Pollution: The World Wildlife Federation reports that pollution levels are very high in the South Saskatchewan watershed. There are also signs of habitat fragmentation and overuse of water.

Green Cleaning 
Family Cleaners Ltd., 132 Avenue B North, is Saskatoon’s only green cleaner. They use a wet cleaning process that eliminates the employee health risks associated with exposure to traditional dry cleaning fluids. Wet cleaning also eliminates the risk of perc contaminating the groundwater supply and clothes don’t come home with residual amounts of harmful chemicals and odours.

Protecting Native Prairie In and Around Urban Areas 
The Prairie Conservation and Endangered Species Conference will be held in Saskatoon, February 16-18, 2016. Organizers are encouraging presentations and posters from people interested in the integration of prairie conservation and urban development.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner). 

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar.

Monday 13 July 2015

Call for Presentations: Protecting Native Prairie In and Around Urban Areas

The Prairie Conservation and Endangered Species Conference will be held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, February 16, 17 & 18, 2016. Organizers are encouraging presentations and posters from people interested in the integration of prairie conservation and urban development.

As our rapidly growing prairie cities encroach on prairie uplands and wetlands, urban planners and conservation organizations seek solutions that preserve biodiversity and enhance quality of life while meeting the demands for infrastructure, transportation, and commercial and residential development. You’re invited to share your experiences, ideas, and questions at this conference.

If there is sufficient interest, the conference organizers will arrange dedicated concurrent sessions around this topic in the conference sub-themes.

Additional information and guidelines for presentations and posters are available online. The deadline for submission of abstracts is September 4 (end of day).

Sept. 13/15 Update: The deadline for submission of abstracts has been extended to October 2 (end of day).

The Prairie Conservation and Endangered Species Conference is held once every three years and is attended by approximately 350 participants from across Western Canada and the Northern Plains states. It attracts a diverse audience, including producers, policymakers and planners at all levels of government, conservation and other non-governmental organizations, researchers and graduate students from a wide array of disciplines.

You can follow the conference on both Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday 9 July 2015

EcoFriendly Action Grant Criteria

We've updated the criteria when applying for an EcoFriendly Action Grant. We hope this information will be of assistance when you apply for a grant. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to send us an email.

We believe that people want to make a difference and have a positive impact on the environment, but sometimes they need additional financial resources. We decided to help by providing small grants, usually $500, to support local projects that will improve the environment.

Grant Criteria
EcoFriendly Sask is a small personal initiative (Who is EcoFriendly Sask?) so there is some flexibility in our grant criteria. However, we will expect you to demonstrate how your project meets the following criteria.

Type of Project
Projects should reduce or prevent damage to the natural environment. This can be direct (habitat restoration, energy conservation) or indirect (environmental education, promotion of local natural habitats).

Projects should benefit the natural environment and not just people.

Projects should be concrete and have tangible results. For example, the Saskatoon Friendship Inn used their grant to purchase reusable cups to replace the styrofoam cups they were using. The Carrot River Valley Watershed Association received a grant to provide area schools with mini watershed models and educational books so that learning continued after the Association’s presentations. Local gardening enthusiasts received a grant to establish the Saskatoon Seed Library.

Applicants should be individuals, schools, or community groups and institutions in Saskatchewan. You don’t have to have charitable status (but it’s good if you do).

Larger organizations and municipalities must demonstrate need and explain why the project cannot be supported through their own operational budget.

Projects must have a community-wide impact.

We do not support projects that are purely personal (e.g. purchasing a solar panel for a personal residence) even though we recognize there are benefits to setting an example.

Grants are not available for business initiatives (e.g. starting up a renewable energy company).

Financial Considerations
Projects should be for short-term projects or start-up funding. We don’t provide support for ongoing operational funding. For example, we might help you to set up a composting program, but we wouldn’t provide you with a grant to maintain it on a long-term basis.

Projects should be small. We do not normally support large-budget projects with many sponsors. 

Demonstrate need. EcoFriendly Action Grants are designed to support projects that would not be able to go ahead without our support.

Application Process
There are no forms to fill in. Simply send us an email (ecofriendlysask@gmail.com) outlining your project idea, its purpose and audience, as well as what you need to help make it happen. Clearly indicate how you will use the funds (e.g. a list of supplies that are required and approximate cost, a draft budget).

We accept grant proposals on a continuous basis. There are no application deadlines.

Grant recipients will be expected to do the following:

Acknowledge receipt of the grant, using EcoFriendly Sask’s logo, in your organization’s electronic and print publications in order to increase awareness of EcoFriendly Sask’s publications and grant program.

Provide photographs and a written report at the completion of the project to be posted on EcoFriendly Sask’s website so that others can learn from your experience.

See also: 
10 Tips for Successful EcoFriendly Action Grant Applications
EcoFriendly Action Grants 2014
EcoFriendly Sask Action Grants
Who is EcoFriendly Sask?

Tuesday 7 July 2015

EcoSask News, July 7, 2015

bee enjoying flower
Wild Weekends at the Zoo 
Meet one of the Saskatoon Zoo Society’s socialized animals at Wild Weekends at the Zoo10 am to 4 pm, every Saturday and Sunday from July 4 to September 6.

Family Day at the Zoo, July 19
There will be music, art and magic, as well as a chance to learn more about the animals, at the Cameco Family Day at the Zoo, July 19, from 10 am to 4 pm. Save $5 with the coupon on the Zoo Society’s blog. Proceeds from this event support the Saskatoon Zoo Society’s educational programs.

Grasslands Sleep-Under-the-Stars Party & Concert, July 24-26 
Camp under the stars, kayak, hike, and enjoy an outdoor concert and pancake breakfast at Grasslands National Park Sleep-Under-the-Stars Party & Concert Weekend, July 24-26.

Prairie Conservation & Endangered Species Conference, Feb. 16-18 
The 2016 Prairie Conservation & Endangered Species Conference will be held in Saskatoon from Feb. 16-18.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar. 

red-winged blackbird (female)

Mapping Saskatchewan Grasslands 
For the next year, a special computer program will use aerial photographs taken over four townships in southwest Saskatchewan to create a 3D map of plant species.

Municipal Action 
Municipalities can play a key role in addressing climate change.

Calgary’s C train is 100% powered by renewable energy.

Yorkton is keeping waste out of the municipal landfill with an enormous compost pile.

Nelson, BC, could be the first in Canada to build a community solar garden.

A municipality in France will be using the heat from its waste incinerator to grow 5,000 tons of tomatoes.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Thursday 2 July 2015

Event Planning with a Difference: Cut the Waste, Save Energy

Summer is festival season in Saskatoon, and it’s great to see throngs of people enjoying the downtown parks. But you’ll also see rows of enormous garbage containers. There has to be a way to reduce the quantity of dirty Styrofoam containers, empty plastic water bottles, and leftover food that find their way into the garbage.

There is a way. Other cities are actively promoting waste-free events, and we can too. Speakers at the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council’s Bigger Events, Smaller Footprints workshop in April provided practical tips for reducing waste and saving energy at events of all sizes.

Do It Green, Calgary 
Christopher Dunlap and two of his friends volunteered with the Calgary Folk Fest to eliminate bottled water and eventually divert 80% of the waste from the landfill. Their efforts generated awards and other festivals started asking Christopher and his friends for help. They decided to start Do It Green (DIG), an event management company specializing in sustainability and zero waste.

DIG’s services include environmental auditing, waste management (set up and staff waste stations, plate return and reuse program, compostable toilets); sustainable water (H2O Buggies) and transportation (bike valet) options; as well as volunteer recruitment, training, and management.

Regina Folk Festival
Dayle Schroeder, the Production Manager for the Regina Folk Festival, is responsible for site management, and this includes all aspects of environmental stewardship.

Environmental stewardship is included in everything the Festival does and they actively look for opportunities to minimize their impact on the environment. This isn’t a simple task as over 35,000 people come through Victoria Park during the festival.

City of Saskatoon 
Daniel Mireault is the Recycling Coordinator for the City of Saskatoon. The City recycled 11,000 tonnes in 2014, but it still has a long way to go. 20% of the waste in multi-use recycling bins (during the first five months of operation in 2015) shouldn’t have been there or was contaminated. The City now has a recycling education unit that they will be setting up at events to help educate the public.

The City also has plans to join the National Zero Waste Council, which focuses on waste generation and ways to reduce packaging. Long-term plans include building the business case for an organics composting facility, establishing a green purchasing policy, and investigating landfill bans on items such as cardboard and organics.

Waste Audit 
The first step in greening your event is to carry out a waste audit. A waste audit identifies the type of waste that is created and benchmarks your performance.

Each event is different and will require different solutions. After many years of experience, the four-day Calgary Folk Fest diverted 88% of its waste from the landfill in 2014. The 2014 Calgary Marathon generated almost as much waste in just half a day – and only diverted 68%.

Dayle says it’s tough at a large, crowded event to make it easy for participants to recycle. Setting out recycling bins isn’t enough. You need to actively encourage people to recycle. Another trick is to cover the garbage bins so people won’t be tempted to simply throw their waste away at the first available opportunity.

Volunteers are key to an event’s success at waste reduction. Volunteers can help participants to sort their waste – recyclables in one bin, compostables in another. They can also encourage people to be attentive and help them to feel good about doing their part to reduce waste.

It's a big commitment. DIG had 20 volunteers plus partners and staff taking four-hour shifts at the Calgary Marathon. One solution may be to find a corporate sponsor who will provide volunteers and/or incentives for volunteers.

Food Waste
One of the biggest sources of waste at any event is food and food containers. Calgary is fortunate enough to have an industrial composter, so they are able to divert all their food waste and compostable containers from the landfill.

The industrial composter isn’t dependent on DIG for raw materials. The Calgary Zoo, various restaurants, and four Calgary communities also collect their organic waste and send it in to be composted.

Unfortunately, Saskatoon doesn’t have an industrial composter, but the City is exploring opportunities for expanding their organic waste facilities. They started by switching from Styrofoam to compostable plates at the City’s annual Pancake Breakfast. They collected all the organic waste and took it to the City’s yard waste site to be composted. The trial run was successful and in future the City may be open to taking single loads of compostables as a pilot project to test their system. 

Compostable Plates and Cups 
Daniel says it’s important to find the right suppliers as some plates and cups compost better than others. They must be compostable, not simply bio-degradable.

Compostable containers cost more money. DIG works closely with Calgary food trucks so that all the vendors use compostable containers. This ensures that the added cost is a shared burden rather than placing some vendors in a higher price bracket than others. By planning in advance and working closely with food vendors, you may also be able to eliminate unnecessary food services packaging (e.g. providing large bottles of ketchup rather than single-serving pouches).

The Regina Folk Festival obtains kegs of beer from Big Rock Brewery. The Festival provides compostable cups that the brewery then ships to Alberta to be composted. The Festival has achieved an 85% return rate on the cups, but it’s not easy as the compostable beer cups melt and make a mess, so they need to be kept cool alongside the beer.

The Regina Folk Festival has worked very hard to eliminate bottled water backstage. It’s difficult as many of the artists request bottled water in their contracts. The solution has been to provide crew and artists with branded water bottles, set up coolers where they can be refilled, and have volunteers on hand to wash and refill bottles.

The Regina festival also attempted to eliminate plastic water bottles for the public, but experienced a lot of backlash from vendors and the public. They had to take a step backwards and allow vendors to sell bottled water. However, they have also commissioned water tanks for hand washing and water bottle refill.

DIG supplies H2O Buggies with clean, cold, filtered water.

The Saskatchewan Jazz Festival plans to provide water this year.

Saskatoon Cycles’ Bike Valet offers bicycle parking at many Saskatoon events. The Regina Folk Festival has a similar arrangement with Bike Regina.

DIG offers safe bicycle lock-up and will assist event planners in promoting sustainable transportation options.

As befits their mandate, the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council attempts to limit the waste at their annual conference. This presents some unique challenges as they are working with multiple venues and lots of different suppliers. Here are some of their recommendations:

  • Choose your venue based on its environmental performance (e.g. hotels with four Green Keys or higher) 
  • Choose a location with easy access by public transit (e.g. downtown) and provide shared transportation or walk to other venues 
  • Provide recycling for trade show displayers 
  • Reuse conference signage or develop electronic signage 
  • Go paperless as much as possible (e.g. provide the program as an electronic app) 
  • Purchase carbon offsets for speakers and conference registrants 
  • Partner with Bullfrog Power to purchase green energy for your event 

In 2011, the Regina Folk Festival invested in LED lighting for the main stage. The stage had been consuming as much electricity in one weekend as a family home would in a month – they were able to cut that figure in half.

Additional Information 
The following websites provide useful information on planning a green event:
Greening Your Event, City of Vancouver 
How to Plan a Sustainable Event, Sustainable Communities Online

Garbage bins along the waterfront, Kolkata, India – Shelley Ballard-McKinlay