• Downtown Duncan

Cowichan Going Circular

Is reducing waste while supporting our local economy a part of your new year’s resolutions? Then look no further than these organizations who have embraced the concept of a circular economy!

The circular economy “is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems,” according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Contrary to the typical take-make-dispose model of consumption, the circular economy focuses on redistributing and recycling when possible and repairing and remanufacturing items that have outlived their initial use. This model creates jobs and generates economic activity through innovation and technology, but it can also be as simple as frequenting your local consignment store or repair shop.

Island Java Bag sources burlap coffee bean bags from local roasters and transforms them into eco-fashion accessories. In 2017, they kept 2,190 kg of burlap bags out of landfills, plus retired zip-line harnesses used jeans, and more! Owner Jackie Jensen’s latest idea, Thread Lightly, upcycles hotel linens to make carbon-neutral grocery and produce bags, among other things. Check out javabag.ca to learn more.

Visit Live Edge Design in Duncan for custom-designed furniture made from salvaged materials. John Lore and his team source trees mainly, from when trees are threatening to fall or have fallen in people’s yards. The logs are turned into beautiful pieces of furniture, greatly increasing the value of what might otherwise end up as firewood. Browse their portfolio at liveedgedesign.com

Cowichan Green Community is working to recover unsalable food from large retailers through their reFRESH Cowichan Food Recovery Project. The reFRESH team collects, sorts, and redistributes items to over 20 service providers like schools in the Cowichan Region, where the food is made available to vulnerable community members at no cost. The team also transforms imperfect food into value-added products and meals that are sold at the reFRESH Marketplace in Duncan. Farmers receive any remaining food for livestock feed and compost. To date, this project has redistributed over 250,000 lbs of fruit and vegetables to all corners of Cowichan. Visit cowichangreencommunity.org to learn how you can get involved.

Local innovators Ergo Eco Solutions divert waste cooking oil from community waste streams and upcycle it into environmentally-friendly and high-quality eco-products, including biodiesel, agricultural products, and their new oil-ternativeTM Concrete Form Release Agent. For more information on their services and products, visit their website at ergo.eco

If you’re interested in learning more about the circular economy and how it can increase economic opportunity and resilience in Cowichan, register for the Cowichan Circular Economy Virtual Lunch n’ Learn on January 28 at 12pm. This free event is hosted by Economic Development Cowichan, Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce, and Project Zero. Visit ecdevcowichan.com for details and to register.

Brittany Taylor

Economic Development Analyst

Economic Development Cowichan

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