Building on the success of the Project Neutral tool in Waterloo Region, Reep Green Solutions and University of Waterloo will research the impact of the carbon calculating tool on local action on climate change.

In June 2018, Reep Green Solutions brought Project Neutral to Waterloo Region. Project Neutral, a project of Tides Canada, allows users to calculate the carbon emissions associated with their lifestyle, including home energy, daily transportation, travel, food, and waste.
Since then, the Project Neutral platform has been shared at workshops and community events across the region, resulting in over 600 users discovering their household carbon footprint.

Today, the project is breaking new ground again in a collaborative research partnership with the University of Waterloo. The UW-Reep research team will be exploring the success of the Project Neutral tool as a channel for engaging people in effective, practical climate action. This innovative project looks to fill the gap between climate change awareness and meaningful personal climate action, with a goal to make climate action relevant and accessible for every single person in Waterloo Region.

With support from the Region of Waterloo, and a successful pitch at Social Venture Partners’ Perfect Pitch competition, the Project Neutral-Reep partnership has gained momentum in the community, increasing capacity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and normalize low-carbon lifestyles in Waterloo Region.

Even with its growing popularity in Waterloo Region, the Project Neutral engagement tool opens up new questions about people’s motivations to reduce their household impact. “We’re really excited about what this research collaboration will reveal,” explained PhD Candidate Nicholas Palaschuk, “We know that engaging 600 households has had an impact, but we want to explore how big an impact the Project Neutral tool has in driving people towards those meaningful actions on climate change.”

You can support this research and measure your carbon footprint by visiting to get a snapshot of your household carbon footprint, learn how to start taking action, and share your journey with others. Look for the Project Neutral team at festivals, events and workplaces all over Waterloo Region this year to help measure your carbon footprint on the spot.

For more information on participation in research opportunities, or to bring Project Neutral to an event or workshop near you, please contact Donnique Williams at 519-744-6583 ext. 222, or by email at [email protected]


New subsidized program will pick the perfect location on your property, plant it and teach you how to care for it going forward.

Cambridge, ON. In partnership with the City of Cambridge and LEAF (Local Enhancement & Appreciation of Forests), Reep Green Solutions has launched a new subsidized tree planting program for homeowners in the Cambridge community. Trees are vital to the health of our cities and neighbourhoods and this program will help ensure homeowners are selecting the right tree for the right place.

Homeowners receive an in-person consultation with an arborist, as well as delivery and full planting service. Reep Green Solutions’ arborist assesses the conditions in the yard and asks about the homeowners’ needs and preferences to help them decide on the tree species and planting locations that are most suitable for their yard.

The City of Cambridge is subsidizing the cost of this program with additional support from the Ages Foundation Fund at the Cambridge and North Dumfries Community Foundation to encourage the growth and health of the urban forest. According to Brian Geerts, City of Cambridge Manager of Forestry and Horticulture, “Approximately 80% of the urban forest canopy is on private lands in the city. This program provides support for getting trees planted on private properties and complements the City’s own tree planting efforts in our parks, streets, and natural areas.”

The trees available through this program will all be native to Ontario. Native trees require less maintenance than exotic species, and provide essential habitat for local wildlife. Reep Green Solutions’ Manager of Green Infrastructure programs, Patrick Gilbride emphasized, “The focus of the consultation with an arborist is to help property owners pick the right tree for the right place, and teach them to provide the right care so that the trees will survive and thrive.” Trees are selected in collaboration with the homeowner to ensure its long term health and longevity.

Homeowners pay the subsidized price of approximately $150 – $220/per tree depending upon the tree(s) chosen, which includes a personalized consultation, delivery and full planting, along with a long-term care guide. There will also be opportunities to participate in workshops on tree maintenance and care hosted by Reep Green Solutions starting this fall. Interested homeowners can visit for more information.


Reep Green Solutions is an environmental charity based in the Waterloo Region committed to helping people live sustainably. Reep offers home energy, waste reduction, water conservation and healthy yards services. For further questions on the program, please direct your inquires to Donnique Williams, [email protected].



Reep Green Solutions is honoured to be Green Communities Canada’s Green Community of the Year. In this profile, we honour Paul Parker who won the Environmental Lifetime Achievement Award for his years at Reep and his efforts in the sustainability community.

As we celebrate our 20 year history here at Reep Green Solutions, we thought it would be most fitting to recognize some of the individuals who have helped bring Reep to life and have nurtured it over the years. To kick off our highlights, we are honoured to put a spotlight on Reep Green Solutions’ co-founder and longtime board member Paul Parker, who has devoted his life to Improving the environment.

First, we must talk about the passion of Paul. Anyone who has taken a class with him at the University of Waterloo (UW), or has seen Paul speak, knows that he throws his whole heart into it, with arms raised high and his voice full of excitement. The environment has no greater champion. As a professor and as a community advocate, Paul is willing to speak out, and he has the facts to put behind it. And that makes people listen and respect what he has to say.

Reep Board Member Paul Parker receives GCC's Outstanding Board Member Award (2015)

Twenty years ago, Paul joined with 3 colleagues at UW and the Elora Environment Centre to create the Residential Energy Efficiency Project (REEP). Their goal was to match academic research with practical action in the community, and they did that, in spades. Within two years, 2,000 homes in Waterloo Region had been evaluated for energy efficiency, and an entire issue of Environments journal was devoted to articles chronicling the findings of the first 1,000 homes.

In time, the project evolved into an independent, community-based non-profit, and then an environmental charity, serving Waterloo Region and surrounding areas, with the new name Reep Green Solutions. Paul is the only founder that has followed and led Reep’s journey through all of these transitions, remaining on our volunteer board of directors, and serving as board chair for 5 of those years.

We maintain strong connections to UW’s Faculty of Environment all these years later, in large part thanks to Paul’s active participation in keeping us connected to whatever is going on. He makes seamless connections between work, home, and volunteer aspects of his own life. For a number of years now his students have had the option of volunteering with Reep Green Solutions for the academic term for credit towards their mark for the course. Each year we brace ourselves for the influx, and are grateful for the sudden surge of capacity Paul’s students bring.

Paul’s home is also rooted in sustainability, with a number of energy efficiency upgrades as he participated in Reep’s home energy evaluations. He went beyond available incentives to install solar and a ground source heat pump, and had one of the first hybrid vehicles in the area. Paul can speak from experience about the changes we can all make to our homes and transportation choices.

As we celebrate our 20th anniversary this year, we are grateful for the “oldest living Reeper” – although not the oldest we’ve ever had on the team. Paul is the link to our beginnings and one of the strongest voices leading us to a sustainable future. We are lucky to have him. Thank you, Paul, for all that you’ve done and all that you continue to do.



The other day my colleague Dave Blake sent this quote around to the managers at Reep Green Solutions.
“I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that,” – Gus Speth, American climate scientist.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a “cultural and spiritual transformation.” At Reep Green Solutions we work steadily towards a cultural transformation, steering us all towards more sustainable ways to heat our homes, reduce our waste, plant our yards, and move through the city.

The part that’s been on my mind even more is the spiritual transformation. There’s something that’s not connecting when we cut flood prevention funding during a time of massive flooding, or lighten up our endangered species protection at a time when the UN predicts the extinction of a million species imminently.

We’re not making some important connections here, between our own actions, and the massive collective impact we’re having on the natural world that sustains us. It’s not logical to keep on hammering the planet when we can see and feel the damage we’re doing. And it’s not the way we’ve always been. We’ve lost a soul-full connection to nature, one that was alive and thriving in the Celtic world, in Indigenous ways of being, and likely in many other cultures as well.

When I look a little at both Celtic and Indigenous views of the natural world, I see a much stronger embeddedness of life in earth and sea and sky. In ancient Celtic ways, there is a profound connection between the spiritual and the natural worlds, and a strong sense of the goodness all around us in nature. It was tradition for men to tip their hat to the sun in the morning, and for women to bend their knee to the moon at night. “I bind unto myself today, the virtues of the star-lit heaven, the glorious sun’s life-giving ray, the whiteness of the moon at even…” (Listening for the Heartbeat of God, A Celtic Spirituality, J. Philip Newell, pg 25).

When I read about Indigenous perspectives, I learn of a deep sense of kinship and gratitude to the natural world we are part of. “We give thanks to our Mother the Earth, for she gives us everything that we need for life… To our Mother we send thanksgiving, love and respect. Now our minds are one.” (Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer, pg 108).

There must be many more examples from all the other cultures of people that have lived or still do live close to the land. I would love to hear them. It matters to me that I can not only learn from other traditions, but that far back in my own heritage too, we had this connection to the natural world. Together, can we remind ourselves every day of the grace and beauty and life-giving gifts that we walk through, breathe in, see and hear all around us? Suddenly hugging a tree makes so much more sense to me. I’m going to go do that right now. And say a very big thank you for all that it gives me.

Mary Jane Patterson, Executive Director of Reep Green Solutions



Looking for something to do on Earth Day? How about the rest of the week? We’ve got you covered with a comprehensive list of the special events and activities happening in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge on the week of the April 22nd and Earth Day 2019! Some activities may require registration or other important information, be sure to click the link to the accompanying website to find out more.


What: Preston Flats is often littered with garbage from upstream after spring flooding. Join in cleaning up the shoreline on which numerous birds and other wildlife depend. 

When: Monday, 22 April, 1:00 PM  

Where: Rare Charitable Research Reserve, 1679 Blair Rd., Cambridge, ON 

Find out more!


Earth Day Showcase 

What: Join us this Earth Day to learn all about recycling, clean water, and sustainability! While you’re here, participate in a Green Scavenger Hunt that will lead you throughout THEMUSEUM’s green initiatives! 

When: Monday, 22 April, 11:00 AM 

Where: THEMUSEUM, 10 King Street West Kitchener, ON

Find out more!


Earth Day Reconciliation Tree Plant 

What: The Land has been deeply impacted by colonization. We have a responsibility to work towards restoring ecosystems and relationships. Bring your family to plant trees, remove invasive species, and listen to Dr. Andrew Judge (Anishinaabe) speak about revitalizing Indigenous Land practices toward sustainability.  

When: Mon, 22 April, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM  

Where: Waterloo 33, 82 Meadow Creek Lane #R, Cambridge, ON 

Find out more!



Butterfly Walks + Easter Storytime 

What: Celebrate the return of spring wildflowers and wildlife with a guided walk led by the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory. Explore the tropical greenhouse and enjoy some of our favourite bug and butterfly books during Storytime. 

When: All Earth Day (April 22) and Easter Weekend activities are family friendly and included with regular admission. 

Where: Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory. 2500 Kossuth Road, Cambridge, ON

Find out more!


Earth Day: 20 Minute Makeover 

What: In honour of Earth Day (April 22), join the Sustainability Office for our annual 20 Minute Makeover and help tidy up around campus and in the community! Organized annually by the City of Waterloo, the 20 Minute Makeover encourages organizations to tidy up our neighborhoods. 

When: Wednesday, 24 April, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM 

Where: Environment 3 (EV3), 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON

Find out more!



The Eco Market 2019 

What: Our yearly big conference and the green event of the year! Featuring a highly curated marketplace, speakers all day, interactive activities for the full family and more, free to attend! Reep Green Solutions will also be there offering $10 off your order of the Bloom{in} Box all-in-one garden kits! 

When: Saturday, 27 APRIL, 11:00 AM  5:00 PM 

Where: Waterloo Region Museum, 10 Huron Rd, Kitchener, ON

Find out more!


K-W Earth Day Event 

What: Join staff from the Cities of Kitchener and Waterloo as we host our annual Earth Day celebration. Free activities for the whole family including bird box building, live bird of prey shows, kids crafts and tree planting. 

When: Saturday, 27 April, 1:00 PM– 4:00 PM 

Where: Bechtel Park, Waterloo, ON

Find out more!


Settler’s Grove Community Clean Up 

What: Join us for our community Earth Day clean up. Continental Breakfast will be served for all volunteers. Bring your rain boots and gardening gloves. 

When: Saturday, 27 April, 10 AM 

Where: Settler’s Grove Park182 Pioneer Tower Rd, Kitchener, ON

Find out more!



Cambridge Community Clean Up 

What: Pick up your litter clean up supplies at one of these City Green booths.  

When: Saturday, 27 April, 9:00 AM- 12:00 PM 

Where: Your choice of clean up locationCambridge ON 

Find out more!


Kitchener Community Clean Ups 

What: Community clean-ups bring neighbours, colleagues or classmates together for a common cause – cleaning up our community. They provide an opportunity to see how a small act for a short time can have a great impact. And, when people get involved in cleaning their neighbourhoods, parks and open spaces, they are less likely to litter – and more likely to keep it clean. Choose a date, time and clean-up location that works best for you. 

When: Materials will be available for pick up after April 1. Register for clean-up time that works for you! 

Where: Your neighborhood, school or near your workplace: anywhere! 

Find out more!


School-yard clean-up PLUS 

What: In honour of Earth Month, local schools are encouraged to hold a school-yard clean-up PLUS other Earth Day-related activities for a day in April. For example, some schools host book swaps, while others hold green scavenger hunts and fun quizzes about the environment. 

When: If you need supplies, click here to register your school-yard clean-up by Friday, April 5. Kits will be sent out the week of April 8. 

Where: Your school, Kitchener ON 

Find out more!


If you’d like your event to be featured on this list, let us know at | [email protected]


There are many voices out there that claim to help you reduce your carbon footprint. Project Neutral is one of the only practical tools that tells you your personal carbon footprint based on local data AND offers you actions you can take to reduce it. Our personal carbon footprint comes primarily from transportation, homes, and food. Decarbonizing our lifestyle is actually quite simple!


For transportation, shrinking your carbon footprint is a two step process. The first stage involves reconsidering your travel needs. Some trips may be possible by active transportation such as biking.  Public transit may work for trips within your city. Have you tried carpooling or car-sharing for some journeys?

You’re out of office meetings can be offset by using teleconferencing tools. If a personal vehicle is still necessary, choosing the smallest electric vehicle that meets your requirements can help you achieve zero emissions for transportation. Here in Ontario, our electricity comes largely from a clean electricity grid which does not produce significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. As a consequence, emissions associated with driving an electric vehicle are negligible, especially if it is recharged during off-peak hours.


The major source of carbon emissions for homes is from heating the home and water. Start by improving the energy efficiency of the home through draft-proofing; adding insulation; upgrading lighting and appliances. Heat pumps with electric resistance heating backup can provide all our heating and cooling needs, even in our colder climate.

Then move on to reducing hot water demand through low flow shower heads and aerators on taps. Reep Green Solutions can help with energy efficiency and water conservation!


Not all food is created equal. A plant-based diet has a smaller carbon footprint than an omnivore diet. One also can’t generally go wrong by choosing seasonal, local produce. Choose to eat less meat and choose plant-based proteins more often. Reducing food waste and using green bins or compost can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions set off when food is placed in landfills. We are lucky here in Southern Ontario to have access to tasty local food all year-round!

Bonus: Put your money and your voice where your values are

It may be surprising but your financial investments may in fact contribute significantly to your carbon footprint. Divesting from fossil fuels can provide a double whammy by reducing your personal climate impact while simultaneously defunding the fossil fuel industry. Money re-invested in renewable energy projects can provide competitive returns while leading to further decarbonisation.

Simple, isn’t it? Reduce your demand for energy in transportation and home heating, and switch as much as you can to electric. Eat a plant-based diet with local, seasonal produce. Divest from fossil fuels. That is all it takes to lead a near zero carbon lifestyle. Achievable? Absolutely. Easy? Maybe not without some government policy changes and incentives. So here is the last ingredient: let your political leaders know that climate change is a concern and that you would like to see more climate action. We CAN do it!

By: Heather McDiarmid


Photo Credit: Evie Shaffer, Unsplash


We were greeted by cheerful faces as we arrived in the cold, wet weather for the first depave event at Sheppard Public School. It was a great opportunity for community building while better managing rainwater and creating a beautiful space. News crews came out to document this historic event, the first ever in Waterloo Region. In an effort to to remove under-utilized pavement from urban spaces and replace it with green spaces, Depave Paradise Canada partnered with the environmental charity, Reep Green Solutions to bring the Depave program to Waterloo Region.  Sheppard public school was the first stop!

BEFORE: The area about to be transformed!

The day started with unpacking gear and setting up tables for volunteer registration, first aid and refreshments. The kids ensured that the timbits were distributed fairly and no one was excluded from the sugary treats. A quick team meeting got tasks assigned and positive energy flowing just in time for community members to start arriving. Evergreen provided some nature play activities to occupy the kids while their parents were busy depaving..  As the morning progressed and tasks began, the hot beverages would become essential for motivating community members.

Four work areas were set up for volunteers and their families.  Team 1 was the depavers.  In their steel-toed boots and heavy-duty gloves, they chewed through the pavement in a mere hour and a half filling a whole waste bin with slabs of asphalt.

Team 2 were the diggers.  Like industrious dwarves, they sifted through gravel pulling out the nuggets of tar-coated stones and pavement crumbles. Digging into the sodden ground, buckets and wheelbarrows full of gravelly clay soil was removed to improve drainage in the site.  It was amazing to see these superheroes clear out so much fill, shifting and heaving buckets into the bins.

Beside them Team 3 took up the sod with manual sod cutters to add more space for plants and an area for the students to relax during recess.  Like a plow with a horizontal knife, the sod cutters sliced grass right below the roots allowing strips of grass to be peeled off the soil.  It looked so easy, and then I tried it.  Not so easy!

Team 4 were the queens of the castle. They presided over the three waste bins helping to dump buckets and steer wheelbarrows.  They also ensured that no pavement contaminated the clean fill and no clean fill dirtied the pavement bins. While the parent volunteers did the hard labour, the kids were also hard at work! Setting up natural shelters using sticks and rope they were challenged to be creative and logistical. Volunteers were around to support and discuss the set up while the kids determined the function of their creation. A group of girls set up an entire campground, only missing the marshmallows!


Pizza arrived and everyone was excited to take a break. The energy at the break was high as volunteers chatted and marveled at the progress of the Depave. A hot chocolate refill arrived just in time to warm up the volunteers before getting back to work. Once the pizza was gone, the energy surged as we switched from clearing out the depave site to filling it in with dirt and mulch.  

A mountain of soil and mulch remained, waiting to breathe life back into the newly depaved areas. Parents, children (with their little shovels) and community volunteers got hard to work filling wheelbarrows to complete the job. Some children were more preoccupied with climbing the dirt piles and made for a playful environment amidst the laborious task at hand. Who would be able to fill their wheelbarrows the fastest? A little friendly competition between depavers made the experience all the more cheerful and productive.

Some hours later and after much hard work and determination, the never-ending pile of soil seemed to be finally clearing. A couple more hours passed and after countless mulch-filled wheelbarrow trips, the depaved areas began to resemble the precursor of a lively green space more and more.

By 5pm, the tasks were complete, and volunteers were finally able to marvel at the fruits of their labour, making the entire experience well-worth the end results.  Overall, the depave as a community building event was a success! Volunteers, young and young at heart, all engaged with one another to complete the project which would beautify the school yard, keep the area cool in summer, add shade, manage stormwater runoff and countless other benefits. Knowing all this, even with the gloomy weather there was a ray of sunshine at Sheppard Public school!  


Depave in the News!

Students plant trees at former paved playground – CTV Kitchener

Transforming asphalt into a green play space – CTV Kitchener

‘Schlepping wet dirt’ key to environmental renewal in Waterloo Region – The Record


By: Heather McDiarmid, Pamela Kisun, Jamylynn McDonald

Photography: Christine Tan


It all started when my husband borrowed a portable induction cooker to try out in our kitchen. I admit, the explanation of how it works seemed more like voodoo magic to me than science, and I was skeptical about its ability to make much of a dent in our energy usage. But only a few months later, we had replaced our coil cooktop with an induction cooktop and I am never going back. Which leads me to my list of the reasons why induction is better than anything else out there:

  1. Induction uses significantly less energy to heat your food.

Induction cookers use an electromagnet to induce a small current and magnetic flux in the pot causing it to heat up1,2. The pot then transfers the heat to the food. With coil cooktops, the coil acts a resistor, heating up as electricity passes through it. The coil then heats the pot, which heats the food. With ceramic cooktops, the coil sits below a ceramic surface. The coil radiates heat through the ceramic and into the pot, which heats the food. Induction is more direct and therefore less energy is wasted. My son, as part of a science fair experiment, made some energy measurements that suggest that induction is 20-30% more energy efficient than coil or ceramic cooktops.

  1. Induction heats things faster.

Much faster. In his experiment, my son also tested the time it took to boil IL of water at the highest power settings on several cooktops. The ceramic cooktop came in at 9 minutes, the coil cooktop at 6.5 minutes and the induction cooktop at an astonishing 3 minutes. I am all for faster cooking times!

  1. The pot heats up or cools down immediately.

It is very similar to the effect of turning up or down the gas on a gas stove. However, induction does not produce the carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and other indoor air pollutants that are produced from gas stoves. Nor are there open flames to worry about.

  1. You will never need a double broiler again.

You can melt your chocolate directly in a pot without worrying about it scorching or going grainy. The ultra-low settings are also useful for keeping food warm.

  1. Induction cooktops are very easy to clean, with a smooth glassy surface similar to those of ceramic cooktops.

Furthermore, they never get as hot as the ceramic cooktops so you can wipe the surface right after your pasta has boiled over. And your pasta will probably boil over because induction heats things faster than you expect (see #2 above)!

By now you are probably wondering: Why everyone isn’t using induction cooktops? The big drawback is the price. Induction cooktops are more expensive than other options, although the price is coming down. Also not all cookware works with induction. Only pots and pans with iron or stainless steel bases will work – if your fridge magnet sticks to the base of your pot, it is good to go. But with homes and restaurants in Asia and Europe jumping on the bandwagon, isn’t it time we thought about it too?


By: Heather McDiarmid

  1. accessed Dec 8, 2017.
  2. accessed Dec 8, 2017.
  3. Ian Praetzel, personal communications.
  4. Nicole W. 2014. Cooking up indoor air pollution: emissions from natural gas stoves. Environ Health Perspect 122:A27;

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Reep Green Solutions is proud to announce the much anticipated RAIN Smart Framework for Municipalities! We worked together with Partners for Action to develop a guide for engaging communities on progressive stormwater management. This framework includes ready-to-use templates and resources on how to build a program to engage a residential neighbourhood on lot-level stormwater management.

Our work developing the RAIN Smart Neighbourhood Project in the City of Kitchener in Lakeside and Mount Hope neighbourhoods provided us with the real world experience to create this framework. The project ground tested several methods of engagement with homeowners to increase resiliency of stormwater infrastructure on a neighbourhood scale.

Municipalities can use this framework as an aid to develop their own strategies for enlisting community members help to manage rain close to where it falls. The framework offers practical suggestions to increase public awareness of stormwater management issues and green stormwater infrastructure (GSI), promoting residential update of GSI, and fostering collaboration between residential homeowners, citizen grounds and municipal staff.


Download the RAIN Smart Framework for Municipalities!


RAIN Smart infographic

This project was made possible with the support of Ontario Trillium Foundation, City of Kitchener, and Partners for Action.


**the comment period is over, thanks to all who raised their voices!

You can still read about the impacts of cancelling the cap and trade program here**

Dear Friends,

 Here’s a chance to have your say about the cancellation of Ontario’s Cap and Trade program. The comment period about the cancellation is open for one more week, ending Thursday, October 11.
Want know more about the impacts of cancelling Cap and Trade? Here’s the report on it from our environmental commissioner Dianne Saxe:   
Check out:
          Appendix B, page 210 to learn what the Cap and Trade revenue was used for;
          Page 222 in particular and following pages for a summary of the initiatives that were underway.
You can make a comment anonymously or register to make a more formal comment.
Yours in climate action,
Mary Jane Patterson, Executive Director of Reep Green Solutions

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Upcoming Events

  1. Dog Poop Compost? Living Zero Waste as a Dog Owner

    October 26 | 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm
  2. Throwing Away our Throwaway Culture | Waste and Your Carbon Footprint

    November 4 | 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
  3. The Good Green Death Project

    November 23 | 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm