Thursday, 9 February 2012

Where does our paper go? Urban Impact Tour

Urban Impact Tour

On Tuesday, the Waste Reduction Network visited the Urban Impact Paper Recycling Plant.  It was a great experience for students and teachers alike!  We got to see the recycling process up close and personal.  The paper from schools don’t simply go off into “never-never land” once it gets picked up.  It goes through a five step process that includes trucking, delivering, sorting, baling and shipping. 

Nicole, the owner and operator shared a lot about the process of paper recycling.  Did you know that: 
  • the paper products are sorted by density? Metals and plastics are sorted out from the paper and then brought to the New Westminster plant
  • Urban Impact picks up the recyclables from Richmond Schools on the weekends so there is less disruption to the schools
  • Bales of paper get shipped throughout North America and Asia.  They get recycled into products such as cardboard boxes.
  • Eight Richmond students could NOT move a 1 metric tonne of paper!  

I would highly recommend this tour for any school classes or green teams that are interested in waste reduction (ie. composting, recycling, etc.) and sustainability of ecosystems.  It is informative tour that gives students a different perspective about what happens to their “waste” once it enters the waste stream. 

Thank you to the students and teachers from Ferris and Woodward.  Your enthusiasm was infectious.  You had awesome questions!  Write your comments and let us know what you thought about the tour!  Perhaps each of you will have a future in recycling!  

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Potential Sustainability Project Funding Sources - updated Feb. 8, 2012

Funding sources for Richmond School’s
Green Projects:

Updated Feb. 8, 2012.  For more information, please contact Rosalind Poon @ or 604-668-6000 ext. 4024. 

1.  Sustainability Grants from the Richmond School District
·      “ Seed” money to help grow, develop, implement and continue to support school based initiatives
·      On hold due to job action
·      For more information, please contact Rosailnd Poon @

2.  BC Green Games –

·      BC Green Games is awarding $24,000 in prize money directly to schools to sustain and support environmental action projects in the spirit of BC Green Games and the winning project.

·      10 - $1000 prizes for elementary schools and 10 - $1000 for secondary schools and two new $1000 energy prizes will be decided by expert judges in the field of environmental education and environmental science
·      Deadline for project submission is Feb. 1 - March 1st 2012
·      All participating schools will receive a celebration package

3. Toyota
(a)  Toyota Evergreen Learning Grounds
  • Toyota Evergreen Learning Grounds helps schools create outdoor classrooms to provide students with a healthy place to play, learn and develop a genuine respect for nature
  • Amount offered: $500–$3,500 for schools, $500–$2,000 for daycares.
  • Next accepting applications: Applications for the 2011–12 funding program will be accepted on 4 intake dates throughout the school year, starting on September 2, 2011:
·       September 16, 2011 – for schools that have completed their design process and are ready to plant in the fall.
·       December 2, 2011 – for schools that have completed the design process and need planning time for their spring plant date.
·       March 16, 2012 – for spring plantings.
·       June 1, 2012 – for late spring/early summer or early fall plantings.

(b)  Walmart – Evergreen Green Grants  -
  • Walmart Canada and Evergreen have combined to offer this national program funding community-based initiatives across Canada. Projects supported through the Green Grants program include, but are not limited to:
·       Native planting initiatives
·       Invasive species removal
·       Community food gardens
·       Youth-based and intergenerational projects
·       Wildlife habitat restoration
·       Aquatic stewardship projects
·       Environmental workshops and educational events
·       Community skills sharing workshops
·       Projects serving underserved communities
Amount offered: up to $10,000 (up to 50% of project budget)
Application deadline: January 31, 2012

4.  Tree Canada –
(a)  Greening Canada's School Grounds
Tree Canada invites your school to participate in the Greening Canada's School Grounds Program. Tree Canada provide to the selected schools: educational information, technical advice and financial support up to $3,000 towards the transformation of their school grounds into environmentally enriched learning landscapes.

(b)  FedEx Express Green Schools, Green Futures Award
  • New program to be announced in 2012
  • Past Program: Five prizes will be awarded - one per Canadian region (Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Prairies and British Columbia). Four regional winners will receive $1,000 cash and a plaque from Tree Canada and FedEx Express Canada. One national winner will receive $3,000 cash and a plaque.

5.  TD Friends of the Environment -
(a) Environmental Funding - TD FEF are always looking for new environmental community projects.  Recent Tip: they are looking for projects that involve wildlife habitat (i.e. trees)
  • TD FEF's purpose is to promote environmental initiatives benefitting local communities that:
·       Protect the environment and Canadian wildlife
·       Assist young Canadians in understanding and participating in environmental activities
·       Enhance cooperation among Environmental organizations

Completed application received by:  Dec 15, Feb 15, May 15, August 15 (2 months to get response

(b)  Grade 12 Scholarship -
  • TD Canada Trust also offer up to $70,000 in grade 12 scholarships

6. WWF-Canada Green CommUnity School Grant Program

  • Schools can receive up to $5000 to make a green idea grow
  • Will start accepting applications for the Spring in Feb/March 2012

7.  Project FLOW-
  • $500 - $3000 for Water Action Projects
  • Resources for Rethinking is at
  • Specific for water-focused action project grants
  • No deadline specified - deadline was Nov. 15, 2011 – check back for updated info for 2012

8. VanCity’s EnviroFund :
·      The enviroFund™, a granting program administered by community investment, was created to support initiatives addressing local environmental issues in a positive, constructive and creative manner. Over $3.7 million has been awarded to local groups since the fund was established in 1990.
·      The next deadline for submissions is September 1, 2012. Guidelines and criteria will be available in March 2012.

·      Not specific to environmental sustainability project, but perhaps a source of funding for schools? 
·      Richmond Community Foundation grant making priorities for 2011 are programs and services that:
·  Support children in poverty
·  Support vulnerable youth
·  Support the poverty stricken & homeless
·  Are collaborative & cooperative with other organizations
·  Innovative in service delivery

10. Fiskar’s Project Orange Thumb Grants -
  • The 2012 winners have already been chosen – they accept applications in the Fall.  Look out for more information in Fall 2012
  • Ten groups will receive Fiskars garden tool and additional funds
  • One group will receive a complete garden makeover

11.  EcoVoyageurs -
·      Resource for lesson plans & sustainability action initiatives
·      They have had grants in the past – stay tuned for new information in 2012? 

12.  Solar BC -
  • Resources for Solar hot water heating
  • Includes lesson plan and case studies

13.  Hellmann’s Real Food Grant Program -
  • $100,000 to support initiatives with Canadian families and real food
  • There is currently no information for 2012 – check back again soon?

Friday, 30 September 2011

A Visit with the Dixon Dragonflies

Dixon Dragonflies working hard in the gardens.
Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011

Every time I go out to Dixon Elementary School I am truly inspired.  Fiona and Chris are amazing teachers who have created the Dixon Dragonflies which meet weekly to work on the schoolyard gardens, bake, cook and do crafts related to environmental sustainability.  

On this day, when I visited, the library was abuzz as soon as I entered.  There were approximately 25-30 students and at least 10 parents eagerly waiting to participate.  Chris was taking a group of students down to the school kitchen to make homemade salsa with tomatoes from the school garden, and Fiona was preparing for some weeding and the laying down of some landscape fabric.  The excitement and eagerness in the classroom was amazing.  The students really wanted to be outside playing around in the dirt!

I first followed a group of students out into the gardens.  At Dixon, the gardens are very unique.  They are essentially divided up into two areas.  There is a set of raised beds in a secured courtyard and there is another more permanent garden at the back of the school.  The raised beds were built with the help of some of the local seniors three years ago.  Various classes have plots in the raised beds and there is a variety of veggies and flowers growing in this area.

At the back of the school, where the garden is larger, there are more vegetables.  Today, there were tomatoes, swiss chard, celery, curly kale, fennel, zucchini, and a little bit of lettuce. I can only imagine what the gardens looked like in the summer with all of the fresh veggies!!  The students eagerly helped to get rid of the weeds, find spiders and pick the tomatoes for the salsa.  There was even a quick debate about whether spiders were good for the garden.  It was decided that spiders are good, but kind of gross!

Simultaneously, Chris was with a small group of students in the kitchen.   When I went over to visit, the students were happily stirring their homemade salsa and getting the corn chips ready for eating.  The aroma of the sweet tomatoes were making the students drool!  They could hardly wait to go back to the library and get the salsa ready for their other classmates.  What a great example of the farm to table concept. The tomatoes that were used for the salsa were barely half an hour old! 

Many schools start Green Teams, but they slowly die away and fade into the background.  The reason that this club is successful is due to the dedication of Chris and Fiona.  You can see and feel their passion for the students and the gardens.  Their dedication is infectious and there is a climate of care.  You can see that the actions of being a global citizen are modeled and I can see that these students are our future environmental stewards.

Three questions that came out of the visit:

1.  Where can we access plants for winter gardening and what's best to grow in the winter in Richmond? 

2.  What's the best way to set up a summer watering system?  A timer system was set up, but it was disconnected over the summer?

3.  Where can we get some more soil for the gardens?

Thank you to Chris and Fiona for inviting me to visit the Dixon Dragonflies.