How Green Action Centre is combatting climate change in Manitoba
If there’s one organization considered to be at the leading edge of environmental consciousness in Manitoba, it would have to be Green Action Centre. This hub for green living educates Manitobans about everything from recycling to composting to sustainable transportation and more, with the goal of building climate resilience in the community.
With climate change and the health of the environment becoming more and more of a focus for the world, Green Action Centre is poised to play a bigger role in what we can all do to create the changes required. Tracy Hucul, Executive Director, calls herself and the rest of the staff, change-makers. “The staff here is very dedicated to making a difference,” said Hucul.
Today, Green Action Centre delivers community programming, tools, and education on sustainable transportation, waste reduction, resource conservation, and green living. While it continues to be a leader in the recycling efforts of the province, Hucul also sees the start of a change in that area. “Recycling is still part of the answer, but it is not be the only answer,” she said. The organization gives 200-300 presentations each year on how to reduce waste.
“It’s more important than ever to look at what we purchase, where it comes from, what it’s made of, and whether we really need it or not. What are the better choices? Re-purpose, re-use, and re-think may be the new three Rs that need to be considered before we get to recycling,” she adds.
One of Green Action Centre’s fastest growing programs is composting. “Almost 40% of the food that is produced ends up as waste,” says Hucul. “Whether it’s from restaurants, homes, or spoilage at grocery stores, a huge amount of food we produce ends up in our landfills,” she adds. By introducing proper composting methods, this spoilage can be turned from waste into organic material that can be used for gardens and landscaping.
Through its social enterprise, Compost Winnipeg, compostable materials are picked up from over 150 businesses, almost 350 residential households, and many special events around the city. Since the introduction of their social enterprise, around one million kilos of waste has been diverted from landfills and turned into useable compost. Also, with On-Site, their multi-unit composting initiative, Green Action Centre also teaches proper composting methods to people living in apartment blocks and condos, providing on-site composting capabilities. Residents are educated on how to compost and are provided with pails and tools, and a triple bin system is installed onsite for composting the building’s food waste. Residents then use the compost in community gardens and for landscaping projects.
Another area of focus for Green Action Centre is sustainable transportation. It works with businesses and schools to try to reduce emissions by reducing the number of people driving alone. Walking, biking, bussing, and carpooling are all encouraged. The Green Action Centre’s Go Manitoba app enables drivers to ride share with other drivers who are taking the same route. The app also connects first time transit users with regular bus riders to help overcome any fears they may have about riding the bus. It even connects experienced cyclists with riders just starting out.
Throughout the year, Green Action Centre also works with Manitoba’s Indigenous communities, supporting their waste management priorities, including waste minimization and recycling. This year, the centre brought together 38 participants from Manitoba First Nations communities for a teachers’ conference on waste reduction. It also helped Peguis First Nation remove 900 tires, 6,000 litres of used oil, and five semi-trailer loads of household recycling bales.
Green Action Centre has worked closely with ACU for many years. ACU is the financial institution of choice for Green Action Centre, has provided grants to support their programs, and has provided vital financing for the purchase of the centre’s first heavy-duty compost truck. ACU sponsors the centre’s annual Commuter Challenge event and was also a pilot client for Compost Winnipeg. “From an environmental and social perspective, ACU is a company that leads by example,” says Hucul. “It’s easy working with them and we have a very rewarding relationship.”
The centre’s programs and outreach are supported through government grants, corporate sponsorships, individual donations, and through consulting and compost collection services.
If you’d like to learn more about living green, visit greenactioncentre.ca
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