I Really Love Y’all
By Mark Peterson I can honestly say that I have never worked at a place quite like Sustainable Connections (SC). There are so many things that make this organization special and someone could write an enthralling short novel about the stories, shenanigans and massive impact this non-profit has achieved. It is not often you see […]
Local Collaboration for the Win!
By Mark Peterson It was with great trepidation I listened to the presentation at our last Solid Waste Advisory Committee meeting. The discussion centered around the ramifications of what may come to pass as we looked at the impending closure of a longtime recycling business, NW Recycling. Their representative shared they were calling it quits […]
Waste – Creatively Speaking
By Mark Peterson As we head into what appears to be another tumultuous year for so many aspects of business and our daily lives, the world of solid waste will be no different and won’t be spared the inevitable disruptions we will all face. Lately, I have been reading about the waste trends we may […]
Still Here, Still Resilient
This is where I feel triumphant through the good deeds of our volunteers and exemplary performance of my coworkers. In a time of need where everything seems to be just that much harder, we have found a way to be successful beyond my wildest expectations.
Growling At Your Beverages
By Mark Peterson With all my recent articles about disposable items you may be wondering what I am growling at. Well, this time around I’m not growling at the plastic disposable water bottles that are way to ubiquitous in our daily lives. Instead, I’m growling loud and proud about and easy way for us all […]
Compost – YIMBY Please!
There is no shortage in the news and in environmental articles around the world that the recycling systems are facing significant challenges. Our recyclers have been working hard to find solutions to the ever-growing amount of feedstock and declining market prices. Thankfully, reducing your organic waste first and then composting what you do have left over is an extremely effective strategy for reducing your overall waste footprint.
By Mark Peterson There is no doubt that bringing back Brad Smith, the speedy Aussie left back, will add even more firepower to the Sounders attack! He was a big piece of the Sounders run on their way to hoisting the 2019 MLS Cup trophy and he will make the team even more dangerous – […]
Competing for Bandwidth
By Mark Peterson If you’re like me and you have been working remotely there seems to be the constant battle for all kinds of bandwidth. Internet bandwidth is at a premium and with both my wife and I working and togging between Zoom and Team virtual meetings, my three kids finishing various levels of remote […]
Compassionate, Collaborative Action
I have been working hard to retrain my brain to accept what is, celebrate what should be celebrated and remain steadfast in my hope. Thankfully, the work that has been my profession over the past two and a half years provides me daily examples of people being good humans, doing what they can to take care of themselves, their families, their friends and their communities large and small.
Watch Your Waste
Recycling markets are in the tank and we and we continue to generate lots and lots of trash. Where are the bright spots you ask? Well, I have noticed as of late we are finally having real conversation about waste reduction, single use plastics, surplus food recovery and extended producer responsibility. These conversations are happening with an increased frequency and vigor and in many cases are going beyond just talk. Numerous acts of legislation are in the works that will undoubtedly make positive impacts whether it is single use plastic bans or direct and cooperative efforts from governmental agencies to encourage food producers to donate surplus foods.
Foxes in the Hen House
By Mark Peterson It is no secret that we are being overrun by the ever increasing amount of plastic that deluges us every day. Just about everything we use in our modern society has some sort of plastic component to it. Even our glass bottle with a metal lid has the plastic tamper proof shrink […]
By Mark Peterson Sustainability pursuits don’t exist in vacuum and despite our hopes and dreams they are still subject to Newton’s 3rd law of Physics. We sometimes refer to this law loosely as action-reaction, where the force exerted is the action and the force experienced as a consequence is the reaction. In many cases the […]
Ashes to Ashes
In our culture we often shy away from conversations around death and generally don’t talk about it at all, let alone the impacts related to how we end up at our final resting place. In a traditional burial many resources are utilized including reinforced concrete, embalming fluids, steel and hardwoods for caskets and cremation requires fossil fuels. Green burial is part of an ecological restoration and the process and body become a vehicle for restoring a natural ecosystem.
Late to the Party
These and other like-minded businesses found a way to stay true to their values and find success and profit in spite of market forces perpetuated by the very same Business Round Table who now has had a change of heart. How long this change of heart will last, I’m not sure anyone really knows. Shareholders are already starting to revolt.
The Future of Food Recovery
Thanks to the participating businesses, volunteers and agencies receiving the food we have recovered over 51,000 pounds of food, with over 47,000 pounds of that food redistributed to hunger relief agencies, who in turn served over 39,000 meals to members of our community experiencing hunger insecurity. That is no small feat!
Pride in Learning
This in turn reinvigorates me in all aspects of the Toward Zero Waste work we do at Sustainable Connections including the stinky and slightly gross waste audits.
Hoist Your Glass!
Times like these, when it seems like the solutions and motivations to make changes are slim, are exactly when awards and recognition help keep us keeping on. I do my best to be a realist and also an optimist, and I still hold out hope that we can do better.
Make Your Shot Count!
By Mark Peterson It’s no secret that I get a lot of joy out of the game of soccer. There are so many facets to the “beautiful game” that keep me enthralled as a referee, a soccer parent, and fan. I love the fluidity of the game that flows with relatively few stops in play […]
2018 Green Building & Smart Growth Sustainability Champion
RMC Architects are strong supporters of affordable housing for all, and key collaborators for a variety of important housing projects. They are dedicated to helping create thriving local communities right here in Whatcom County.
2018 Energy Efficiency & Renewables Sustainability Champion
CAZ goes above and beyond to make energy efficiency a reality for homeowners and businesses. They also prioritize meaningful employment (employees are some of the highest paid in the industry!).
2018 Think Local First Sustainability Champion
Not only does ideal support local artists and craftspeople but they collaborate with a variety of local businesses, nonprofits, and students. They are dedicated sustainability stewards and are active participants in the Toward Zero Waste program.
2018 Food & Farming Sustainability Champion
Owners Azizi & Chris say that “from seed to plate” is a motto that encompasses both their history as food producers and their belief that understanding and supporting local food systems leads to a superior product. They are longtime local food buyers and champions!
Take Them Back!
Whatcom County just made a list that we can all be pretty proud of, and one in which the criteria is specifically prescribed (pun intended). Whatcom County is now the 10th location in the entire united states to have a Secure Medicine Return program. And it’s a big deal!
Grace Harbor Farms
The Lukens family didn’t start Grace Harbor Farms with the intention of growing a commercial business. Fast forward a generation and Tim and Grace’s son, David, has helped grow the business into a dairy, creamery, and distributor that creates wholesome and natural products like kefir, yogurt, and milk!
Predictions and Inspirations!
No doubt there are plenty of dire predictions to go around but for my opening blog post of 2019 I’m going do my best to keep it a bit more real and share a few of the more inspiring predictions and trends I’m hoping take hold.
Gothberg Farms has proven to be one of the best goat cheese makers in the region, with their products highly sought after across the Pacific Northwest. Get to know this unique handcrafted artisan creamery!
Flying Bird Botanicals
Every time you brew a cup of tea, you promote peace and goodwill in your life and around the world. Because the integrity of the product benefits all the lives that have participated in bringing you a quality cup of tea. Meet Flying Bird Botanicals and the wonder woman behind it: Scout Erling.
By Mark Peterson “Wow.” Yes, that is what I said to myself as I have started to reflect a bit more intently on the occurrences of 2018. The turn of the seasons and the holidays ahead provide me an annual opportunity to take stock of the past 12 months and be thankful and enjoy the […]
Making a Meal of It
This past month I had the distinct pleasure of working with multiple groups and stellar individuals to support a community meal, while showcasing the recovered foods and highlighting the businesses supporting the Food Recovery Initiative. Together, around a table at the Van Zandt Community Center, a plan was hatched to test the feasibility of feeding 100 people with recovered foods.
Grinding Gears and Shuttling Rubber
I should have known better than to sell Staci and Craig short! I was blown away with when I learned the lengths they have gone to reduce waste.
All Scrambled Up!
Honestly, my attitude about leftovers and what to do with them, especially as the third straight day of chili rolled around, hasn’t always been positive. I imagine those stuck in a room with me during this leftover stretch felt the same – hehe.
Sustainability Reporting Boosts Business Benefits
Kombucha Town, Samson Rope Technologies, and Mallard Ice Cream have completed a new sustainability reporting process and uncovered opportunities to improve business performance and our local community with the help of our Sustainable Business Development Program.
To help prevent my brain exploding from one more seemingly insurmountable global problem, I am instead reverting to my project management training and thinking in terms of a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. In the middle of the SWOT acronym is Opportunity, and in the case of wasted food, there is tons of opportunity–literally.
A Full Heart
Who has inspired me the most isn’t the Executive Directors, the Food Service Managers or people like me managing programs; no it’s the kind souls behind the scenes quietly going about their business with care, commitment, and intention.
Utilize Those Food Scraps!
Before you decide to throw out those food scraps, think twice! There are lots of ways to use those food scraps and give them a second life. We want you to reuse those scraps and make turn them into useful products for your home! Here are our 8 suggestions for what to do with those […]
I imagine most of us at some point in our Toward Zero Waste journey have ended up standing in front of the waste bins wondering if what we have in our hands is truly recyclable – I mean it has a recycling symbol on it so it has to be right?!? From clamshell containers to compostable cups decisions of what goes where is confusing…you just don’t want to toss it out and instead you succumbed to, you guessed it – Wishful Recycling.
How to revive your food
Sometimes our food may begin to look a little sad, like when your greens begin to wilt a bit. But that doesn’t mean that you still can’t enjoy these foods in your next meal, you just have to revive those foods! With a little bit of extra love, you can bring life back to you […]
How to cook for bitty baby squatches
The fine art of freezing
Freezing foods is a great way to cut down costs on your grocery bill, reduce food waste, and to make your life just a bit easier! But, there is a process one should master when attempting to freeze their foods. But have no fear, Sustainable Connections is here! We would like to help answer all […]
How to decipher dates
Food waste happens in the fridge, so use that space wisely!
Did you know that with just a few small steps, you can utilize all the space in your fridge and, in turn, reduce food waste? Pretty neat, huh! Here is our guide to organizing your fridge to help squatch waste! 8 organizational tips to help reduce waste borne from an unorganized refrigerator! Temperature control […]
The smart shoppers guide to food waste reduction
10 meal planning tips to reduce waste to keep your belly and wallet full
Meal planning may seem like a daunting chore. You’re a busy person with many tasks to knock off your to-do list in a day, and meal planning may be the last item you want to prioritize. But, what if we told you that carving out a little bit of time each week could keep your fridge […]
Five Cheese Sandwiches
This quote from Albert Camus struck me – he wrote, “All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant’s revolving door.”
Farm Fresh Workplaces Come to Life
Samson Rope connects the employees to local food One of the things we love most at Sustainable Connections is helping to make more local food connections. For the last 7 years, we have been connecting local employers with local farmers in the Farm Fresh Workplaces program, to get deliveries of farm-fresh produce straight from […]
Busting Waste With Beers!
n the beginning a massive beer party seemed like a daunting task and I had my doubts how we could make the Toward Zero Waste efforts a successful one. Events themselves pose additional challenges and each event has its own intricacies that complicate the process. When you combine hordes of people, music, food trucks, a festive atmosphere and a few adult beverages, at first one may think as I did, this could be a recipe for waste stream contamination disaster!
30,000 Pounds of Food and 12,000 Meals
The recurring image of edible foods discarded into the compost bin or worse the landfill bin was constantly on my mind and a catalyst for a major initiative I was hoping someday Sustainable Connections as an organization could take on. Other local hunger relief organizations are working hard to collect and deliver non-perishable foods and redistribute them but where a large gap exists is prepared edible foods that need to be redistributed in a much shorter time frame.
Bellingham Finishes Third in Nationwide Competition for Innovative Energy Efficiency Solutions
By Mark Gardner, Legislative Analyst / December 18, 2017 The city of Bellingham tied for third place in the final round of the Georgetown University Energy Prize (GUEP), a two-year, nationwide competition involving 50 communities to rethink the way America’s small and medium-sized towns and cities use energy. In the final round, 10 top-performing […]
2018 Sustainability Champion Awards
Thank you to Julien Scherliss for these great photos Congrats to our 2018 Sustainability Champion Award Winners! Sustainable Connections awarded four Whatcom County businesses and two individuals Sustainability Champion Awards last Thursday for their deep commitment to making a positive impact locally. The Awards are an annual recognition of Sustainable Connections members who are leaders […]
The No Good, Very Bad Week In Food Waste
Along with active kids come packed schedules with varying soccer practice times and after school commitments and when combined with a few late nights of work on the parent side and you have a recipe for wasted food.
Serving you better, all of us together: We dive into the New Minimum Wage law, how that effects local farmers, food businesses and YOU!
Whether we see a slight increase in prices, a switch to service charges or other kinds of solutions, it is important for us to remember all that it takes to bring us a delicious plate of food.
Trashin’ it at Home
It has often been said that it is an indelible human tendency to overstate our own self-importance and good deeds. This is not to say that many of us do not do many good things but rather we have tendency to feel we are doing better than we really are. Sometimes it takes a good look around to gauge where we are really at and take stock of what efforts we are making.
Leading the way in sustainability reporting
We are excited to announce that Samson Rope, Kombucha Town, and Mallard Ice Cream submitted the winning proposals to receive free in-depth sustainability reporting services from the Sustainable Business Development Program! Integrative reporting had been a developing trend which incorporates appropriate sustainability information alongside financial information and provides organizations with a broad perspective of […]
What Goes Up Goes Somewhere
Raising awareness of the issue is an important step in having a better outcome so fireworks debris won’t pose a threat to the public, wildlife, and our waterways.
Mt Baker Care Center Toward Zero Waste Case Study
Don’t forget the People!
He said, “My most valuable asset walks out the door every evening–that asset being my employees.” The implication being that on the most basic level they were free to come back each day–or not, and if they indeed came back, what attitude would they have when they walked in the door?
What Does Your Sustainable Future Hold? Free Support!
Our aim is to help you get to where you want to be. Due to the generous support of the Whatcom Community Foundation and their Community Development Grant, we can do just that!
Greenwashing – Stretching the Definition
Imagine my surprise when yours truly, the supposed Toward Zero Waste expert, fell victim to my own personal definition of “sustainable” leading to my purchase of the wrong product. As we work to reduce food waste and increasingly divert organic material from landfill, contamination is the bane of a commercial composter’s existence.
What is Your Good Deed?
Among the many wonderful aspects of my position here at Sustainable Connections, one of the best is the opportunity to work with and learn from such bright business people. I am truly amazed at the wealth of knowledge we have in our community and the overall ethos of many businesses among us that are working hard […]
The 90 Minute Shower
Incredulousness abounds and you say to yourself, “What does hamburger have to do with a 90-minutes shower?” The cold hard truth is we consume the same amount of resources whether you take a 90-minute show or throw away one hamburger patty.
Sustainable Business Development Sponsor: Healthy Pet
Healthy Pet® has engaged deeply with Sustainable Connections and takes part in the Toward Zero Waste, Community Energy Challenge, Eat Local First, and Sustainable Business Development Campaigns. Their Toward Zero Waste efforts have diverted over 80% of their waste from landfill, and their participation in the Community Energy Challenge was a partnership that led to the program’s largest LED lighting retrofit to date.
Sustainable Business Development: Raven Breads
Raven Breads is a small, artisan bakery in Bellingham, WA, making whole grain, sourdough bread & pastries with organic ingredients grown and gathered (with a few tropical exceptions) in the Pacific Northwest. The selection changes from week to week, depending on the season and the baker’s whims. To keep tabs on Raven Breads, visit Sophie at the Bellingham Farmers Market or sign up for the newsletter.
Towards Zero Waste: Characterizing Your Waste & Grooving
Characterize Your Waste seems like an interesting phrase and is certainly open to interpretation. I imagine many of you thought this would be a great opportunity to pull out the crayons, create characters and illustrations, and jam with Macklemore and Oscar the Grouch. Grooving with Macklemore and Oscar is one way to get down with your waste and I encourage it, but keep reading to learn more about what the term means to those of us working in the Toward Zero Waste World.
Committed to the community’s health: Faber Construction
Faber Construction was founded by Rick and Debbie Faber in 1987. While originally specializing in agricultural buildings, they have since expanded both in project volume and scope of work. They are now a full service construction company working in both the public and private sectors. Faber is committed to the health of the communities they […]
A Seriously Sustainable Team: Chrysalis Inn and Spa
The Chrysalis was one of the original participants in the Community Energy Challenge back in 2011. Since then they have done a series of measures to save energy in their building. Including installing; high efficiency boilers, water heaters, lighting sensors, and replacing existing lighting with LED bulbs. More recently they have done analysis on saving […]