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The plastic pandemic is getting worse during COVID. The city of Vancouver’s and the local Farmers Market, as examples, have put on hold their initiatives on the phasing out of single use plastics. 


While single-use items have helped in our fight against COVID for safety especially for our front-line workers, helped us maintain our physical distancing, and supported society during COVID, will we see their increase in use and availability become more permanent?  Single-use items that have increased lately include masks, gloves, coffee cups, packaging for take-out food orders, and shopping bags -  even at the farmers markets. If we are not careful, our short-term thinking during the pandemic could lead to an even larger environmental and public-health calamity in the future.


There are a number of alternatives and plastic isn’t the solution to protect us from COVID. For example, let’s all wear reusable masks and swap latex gloves for more frequent hand washing. There are many ways to reduce our plastic waste that include: 

  • Use a reusable shopping bag. Ask us for a CCEC bag, you can make your own or buy one from a local business. Be sure to wash them often, even after each use. Keep one in your pockets, panniers and bags so you have one when you go out.

  • Give up gum. Gum is made of a synthetic rubber, aka plastic. 

  • Buy boxes instead of bottles. Often, products like laundry detergent come in cardboard which is more easily recycled than plastic.

  • Purchase food, like cereal, pasta, and rice from bulk bins.  As part of our Restart, the bulk-bins are available and fill a reusable bag or container. 

  • Avoid buying frozen foods because their packaging is mostly plastic. Even those that appear to be cardboard are coated in a thin layer of plastic. 

  • Don't use plastic ware at home and be sure to request restaurants do not pack them in your take-out box.

  • Make fresh squeezed juice or eat fruit instead of buying juice in plastic bottles. It's healthier and better for the environment.

  • Make your own cleaning products that will be less toxic and eliminate the need for multiple plastic bottles of cleaner.

  • Pack your lunch in reusable containers and bags. Also, opt for fresh fruits and veggies and bulk items instead of products that come in single serving cups.

  • Use a razor with replaceable blades and biodegradable toothbrushes.  

At CCEC, we don’t use plastic and are limiting our handling of paper.  We encourage our members to switch to paperless statements and bank online.  We want to promote our members' activities and ask you to send us information we can post on our social media channels, monthly newsletter, website, banners, as a featured member and for our in branch bulletin boards.  Please do not leave literature on our counters. 

Be sure to ask us for a CCEC Shopping Bag. They fold into a small pouch and are easy to have with you. 

Let’s get in the habit of being ‘plastic-free’ every day.  Share with us your stories, challenges and successes in kicking the plastic habit.  

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Rooted in social justice values—like human dignity and freedom, fairness, equality, solidarity, environmental sustainability, and the public good—and a strong belief in the power of participatory democracy, CCPA released its’ 25th edition of the Alternative Federal Budget (AFB) Recovery Plan. 


It is time to put human rights, labour, environmental protection, anti-poverty, arts and culture, social development, child development, international development, women, Indigenous peoples, the faith-based community, students, teachers, education, and health care workers at the forefront of policy planning and decision-making. 


2020 is  a critical turning point, a year in which the systems that sustain our societies failed. Greenhouse gas emissions dropped, highlighting the irrefutable link between how we live and climate change. Globally, billions of lives have been disrupted, more than half a million lives lost.


In Canada, we are guilty of racial, ethnic, and Indigenous injustices. The inequities that were baked into our systems have been exposed and exacerbated by COVID-19.  We need investments in a just, equitable and sustainable recovery and to fix many areas of public policy. 


The AFB Recovery Plan identifies the following immediate action items: implement universal public child care so people can get back to work, reform employment insurance, strengthen safeguards for public health, decarbonize the economy, and tackle the inequalities in gender, race and income. 

The Plan includes an analysis of key areas being impacted by COVID-19 including affordable housing and homelessness.  We know that when eviction bans are lifted, more households will be on the brink of homelessness.  Also, the closure of daytime services and public spaces offering washroom facilities and internet access created challenges for those who depend on these shared services.  

We need to increase our social housing stock and in Barcelona they are doing this by seizing empty apartments.  The city told the property owners to fill the vacant rental units with tenants or they would take over their properties. The landowners have one month to comply. Would or could our city government be willing to take such bold action? 

At CCEC, we work to reduce barriers to open a bank account and to provide equitable and just access to financial services. We know this is our chance to bend the curve of public policy toward justice, well-being, solidarity, equity, resilience, and sustainability.  Learn more and read the CCPA Alternative Federal Budget Report to build healthier communities where no one is left behind. 

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We all play a part to create an economy that's more just, equitable, and sustainable.


At CCEC, your funds allow us to support local, grassroots businesses and reinvest in our community. For over 45 years we have served member organizations and individuals who are underserved to meet their basic human needs and rights, for community enterprises and community action. 


At this time, it is even more important that we shop local and eat seasonal produce. Your independent owned or co-operative business contributes to your neighbourhoods’ arts, culture and sports. They build community, connect us to each other and form our economic activity.  


A member recently commented, “We appreciate the role CCEC plays in Community Economic Development and your roots from the Community Congress for Economic Change.”  


Community Economic Development (CED) is a core value for CCEC.  We know that CED empowers communities to shape how the local economy provides for them and how it impacts their lives.  We can ask ourselves, “What kind of community is created and sustained by the local economy, and how do we include the people who may be  left out.”  CCEC supports a Just Recovery and an economy where there is a shortening of the supply chain. 


Local businesses help our communities by:

  • Creating diverse, inclusive employment

  • Adapting to challenges

  • Being proactive, prepared, and resilient.


There is an additional economic benefit to an area when money is spent in the local economy.  Independent locally-owned businesses recirculate a far greater percentage of revenue locally compared to absentee-owned businesses (or locally-owned franchises*). In other words, going local creates more local wealth and jobs.


CCEC has always kept your money in your community to support our local economic development. We encourage our members to shop or keep shopping local to support our arts, culture, sports, restaurants, greengrocers and other neighbourhood businesses. 


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We are in the same storm, not the same boat.

As we are in Phase 2 restarting, we ask ourselves: What do we want our community to look like? What did we learn from our time of self-isolation? What will be our economy?

At CCEC, we support a just recovery for all. We agree that now is the time to move forward with innovative, progressive recovery and rebuilding plans with a strong focus on social spending. Now is the time to invest in rebuilding our communities and cities based on care and compassion.

We cannot go back to the way things were. We are seeing the results of chronic underinvestment and inaction in the face of the ongoing, pre-existing crises of colonialism, human rights abuses, social inequity, ecological degradation, and climate change. We see that the people most impacted by the inequities are those living in poverty, women, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), racialized, newcomer and LGBTQ2S+ communities, people with disabilities, and seniors. We are seeing that the situation is forcing governments and civil society to face the inadequacies and inequities of our systems. There is no going back as “normal” caused our current situation and problems.

The recently formed Just Recovery Canada, an informal alliance of more than 150 civil society groups, have released “Six Principles for a Just Recovery.” The principles ask that all recovery plans being created by governments and civil society:

  1. put people’s health and wellbeing first;
  2. strengthen the social safety net and provide relief directly to people;
  3. prioritize the needs of workers and communities;
  4. build resilience to prevent future crises;
  5. build solidarity and equity across communities, generations and borders; and
  6. uphold Indigenous rights and work in partnership with Indigenous people.

The principles aim to capture the immense amount of care work happening throughout Canadian civil society right now and present a vision of a Just Recovery that leaves no one behind.

 

Now is the time to get involved and fight for a Just Recovery. We need to be on the path toward an equitable and sustainable future. 

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“This is not a return to normal … we’re going to a new normal," said Premier John Horgan.


But what does “a new normal”  look like for you? 


Dogwood BC says, “It marks the beginning of our next big test. Will we seize this opportunity to rebuild a more resilient province — or rush back to business as usual?” They ask you to help shape this essential public conversation by sending a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or through their webpage.


Dogwood BC also says that in BC, “normal” was failing to meet our climate targets. “Normal” was Indigenous and rural communities with no economic opportunities. “Normal” was housing, homelessness and addiction crises in our cities. “Normal” was a wildly inequitable distribution of wealth and power in our province. Let’s not go back to “normal”. 

The province has set aside $1.5 billion to get our economy back on its feet again as we transition out of the pandemic. ‘There’s a huge opportunity for very important economic growth and economic benefits to be invested in greening our economy, in energy efficiency,’ says interim Green Leader Adam Olsen.

But, the Premier’s task force in charge includes big business and unions, but not green groups.

Our members say:  

Advocating for a "hard hat" or "shovel ready" recovery is grabbing the wrong end of the stick. We  need to see retraining and placement programs at an unprecedented scale, with gender equity outcomes far beyond anything anyone's achieved in any economic recovery I've heard about.

The recovery plan MUST include:

  • clean energy development - lots of new jobs there!

  • fossil fuel use reduction

  • remove subsidies to fossil fuels - stop investment in dying industries

  • develop local power grids like solar roofs and wind power (there are bird friendly windmills already developed)

  • invest in green transportation like public transit and safe bikeways

BC Transit needs to establish a province-wide public bus company that uses as much electric power as possible.  Many communities in BC cannot be reached by bus…forcing people to drive their cars, if they have them, are agile enough and can afford to drive.

This is a once-in-a-generation chance to invest these precious public dollars into projects that build the kind of B.C. we all want to live in.  We need to be louder. Spark a conversation in your community about what our province should look like as the economy powers up again.  

Get involved. We need a Green New Deal, a CleanBC and a Way Forward. 

Like and follow groups including DogwoodBC, Wilderness Committee, and  STAND.earth


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There are 19 proposed actions in the City’s five-year Climate Emergency Action Plan.  In 2019 Council declared a Climate Emergency and have now rolled out their proposed targets and actions for dealing with the emergency.  They ask for your feedback by completing their online survey,  attending a dialogue or hosting a dialogue.   The City has created a Dialogue kit that you can download that has instructions, tips, and discussion prompts. The categories they are exploring with Actions are “How We Move” and “How We Build/Renovate”.  The deadline is April 22 to gather your input for the plan that will go to Council in October 2020. 


Another climate change dialogue project is Cool 'Hood Champs: A workshop to teach local climate action.  Hosted by the CALP (Collaborative for Advanced  Landscape Planning), the workshop provides hands-on training for community members interested in bringing positive climate action to their neighbourhoods. There are three workshop dates to choose from. 


The Neighbourhood Small Grant program is accepting applications for small projects (up to $500) that help connect and engage us with our neighbours.  Applying for their Greenest City Grant to host a neighbourhood conversation on climate action using the materials from the City or at the Cool ‘Hood Champs would be a good idea. 


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Businesses that manufacture, import and sell products need to be responsible for the waste they generate. They need to be accountable for their products beyond selling them and change their manufacturing process “to design out waste and keep products and materials in use”.  Businesses need to use less plastic and stop producing single-use items. This shift in responsibility and accountability from consumer to business also entails recognizing the Circular Economy. 


Currently, Coca-Cola is one of the biggest producers of plastic waste. In 2019, it was found to be the most polluting brand in a global audit of plastic waste by the charity Break Free from Plastic. Nestlé is third in the list of top plastic polluters globally as 98% of their products are sold in single-use packaging. There are hundreds of multinational brands contributing to plastic pollution across the globe.


Did you know that seventy-nine percent of the world’s plastic is not recycled?  Our consumption of packaging and single-use items has a real impact on climate change: just under 30 percent of our greenhouse gases come from the way we make, consume, and dispose of stuff.  We know that compostables don’t outshine plastics when it comes to environmental benefits, and biodegradable packaging is even worse. We are overwhelmed with the quantity of  waste we cannot process. Our single-use culture needs to change and the solution is not in recycling. 


We need a solution that will have a positive impact on the environment and mitigate climate change.  Tell Us Yours! One strategy is a program called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). EPR’s push the manufacturers and retailers to contribute to the cost of collecting and reusing their products.  Businesses can introduce take-back programs or arrange waste collection and drop-off points, so the products can be re-purposed and re-introduced for another manufacturing process.


Adopting the Circular Economy model, we can design stuff better to last longer; food chains and toy makers can make better quality goods; producers can use fewer raw materials; waste can be made a resource; excess can be discouraged in schools and homes; we can shop hyper-locally and at secondhand shops, where, in an ecologically literate world, should be seen as pioneers of a new kind of socially aware consumerism.  


Vancouver has a plastic ban bylaw and a single-use-item reduction strategy as action to support their Zero-Waste 2040 Goal.  Over the next year we will see changes in the food industry as we ban styrofoam, plastic straws and plastic shopping bags. These are great steps and we need to do more. 


Let’s work towards a circular economic model and invest and shop locally, avoid buying products from the plastic polluters and advocate for increased manufacturer responsibility to avoid waste.

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At this time of year, we are encouraged to “Create Memories Not Garbage”.  We are reminded that we all should be doing our part to make less waste. Our awareness level  has increased about food waste, single use plastics and taking our own bags when we go shopping. However, we need to be doing much more.  

We need to adopt an economy that operates within planetary boundaries and focuses on keeping materials in circulation (and out of the landfill). We need to be designing products that can be 'made to be made again' and powering the system with renewable energy. This is the circular economy.  

A circular economy “offers a solution to the growing problem of waste, generates economic growth, increases the number of local green jobs, and encourages  innovation.” The BC Minister for the Environment and Climate Change at #COP25Madrid discussed the circular economy and how the way we use waste and resources impacts climate change. 

The circular economy is also about sharing, focusing on positive society-wide benefits. As we welcome 2020, let’s do our part to support a circular economy and community economic development.

So, if you could do just one thing differently to create memories and reduce waste, what would it be? Visit the Metro Vancouver website for ideas! 

Learn more about how to accelerate the transition to a circular economy with best practices, case studies and worksheets from these websites: 

https://ceaccelerator.zerowastescotland.org.uk/ - exists to create a society where resources are valued and nothing is wasted; to influence and enable change. 

https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/circular-economy/concept - works with business, government and academia to build a framework for an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design.
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What actions can we take to make poverty an issue in the next provincial election? How can we ensure there is coordination of the CleanBC Plan and the poverty reduction strategy? These, and other questions are being asked by the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition (BCPRC) of its’ members. CCEC and our members,  Raise the Rates and the Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks are part of this discussion. 

After a decade of advocacy work by the BCPRC and other groups, the BC Government released TogetherBC, their first poverty reduction strategy. It addressed some needs for children and families in poverty through the Child Opportunity Benefit, and a continued commitment to building a quality, affordable child care system in BC.

However, there are still huge gaps. The BCPRC has identified priorities that are not addressed in TogetherBC. They include “better access to good food for families, enhanced investments in affordable transportation, and improved income security, including assistance rates.” The coalition is asking the government to address housing, child care, education, employment, health, transportation, access to justice and food security. Learn more and sign their open letter to the Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. 

Another related initiative is the BC Governments’ Clean BC Plan.  There is a public consultation process underway through the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy to develop a clean growth strategy. The BCPRC is working to ensure there is coordination between the poverty reduction strategy and the clean growth strategy. There are three papers for consideration: clean transportation; clean, efficient buildings; and a clean growth program for industry. Unfortunately, BCPRC says that none of the proposed initiatives apply a “poverty/equity lens” to ensure accessibility to low income people. Read their submission for a Clean Growth Strategy where they outline recommendations for housing affordability, transportation, and education and training for good jobs. 

You can be involved and provide your feedback about the following topics:

Poverty is an election issue. We encourage our members to get involved. 

The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition (BCPRC) is an alliance of over 400 organizations in BC that have come together to raise awareness about poverty and inequality, and improve the health and well-being of all British Columbians.

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“Keystone pipeline shut after spilling 1.4 million litres of oil” reads a headline on October 31, 2019. Did you know that our pipeline, Coastal GasLink, is a project of the same corporation funding the Keystone XL and Energy East Pipeline projects?  All pipeline projects are wrong for many reasons and today, we are asking our members to support our members the Unist’ot’en Brigade Society, the Mountain Protectors, the Wilderness Committee and other groups saying, NO to all pipelines. 

How can you get involved?

The Unist’ot’en Brigade Society, wants your help to get the story out to the larger public.  They released, INVASION, an 18 minute powerful film that covers many of the events of the last year.  They want you to share with friends and host a screening in your community!  

Their press release says, “In this era of "reconciliation", Indigenous land is still being taken at gunpoint. INVASION is a new film about the Unist'ot'en Camp, Gidimt'en checkpoint, and the larger Wet'suwet'en Nation standing up to the Canadian government and corporations who continue colonial violence against indigenous people.”

Join a conversation and tea to learn more. 

November 13th from  7pm - 8:30pm at Kafka's,  2525 Main Street,

you can meet a couple of  Unist’ot’en Brigade Society supporters. They can also let you know more about volunteering  at the Unist'ot'en Camp. 

INVASION the film

Simply download the film here, make a Facebook event using this graphic, and download and print the poster designed by Gord Hill. You can host anywhere from a living room to a local theater.

Email robertages@telus.net for any help you need organizing an event or if you have any questions.  Their website has resources to help as well.

Join the “We Support the Unist’ot’en and the Wet’suwet’en Grassroots Movement” facebook grouphttps://www.facebook.com/groups/SupportWetsuweten/about/ 

The  hereditary chiefs have spoken, “NO to all pipelines.”  At CCEC, we stand in support and are asking our members to also support the Indigenous movements for self-determination.

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