Pull on your brightest green outfits and get ready for a day of fun in Waterloo Park! What better way to cap off the summer than celebrating with than an outdoor, zero waste* party?
Reep Green Solutions is an environmental charity that helps people live sustainably. For the last 20 years we’ve worked to empower people to address and adapt to climate change. Come and celebrate our communities’ imapct together!
FRESH AIR FEAST
What: A near zero waste, community celebration of Reep Green Solutions
When: Saturday, September 14th, 11AM – 2PM
Where: Waterloo Park, Bandshell Field
Who: You! Your family, friends and co-workers all wearing green!
- Admission to the FRESH AIR FEAST
- A vegetarian FEAST!
- Surprise eco swag!
- Carnival games, live music, raffles and much more!
What should you bring?
- Your beautiful self decked out in green!
- Spare change and cash for extra chances for raffles and prizes
- A picnic blanket and lawn chairs for your crew
- Anything that helps you reduce your waste (reusable water bottle, cloth napkins, reusable straws etc.)
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.
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.
10 Jun 2019
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
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.
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
Project Neutral is known for its community-focused, carbon benchmarking and climate action tool. Project Neutral allows anyone to find out their carbon footprint in 5 minutes, based on real local data.
Diving into Waste 101
Date: | Thursday, December 13
Time | 5:30pm – 7:00pm
Note: This is an interactive event and you will need a phone/tablet/computer to participate!
Alicia Parkin, Customer Engagement and Outreach Coordinator, Reep Green Solutions
Alicia is passionate about teaching people how to find their carbon footprint, and what their next steps are for living a sustainable life. She is the In-Home Services & Customer Engagement Coordinator at Reep Green Solutions. One of her lead roles at Reep is to help launch the Project Neutral tool into the Waterloo Region and find like-minded community members to help connect others with this tool. Alicia has a Bachelor’s degree from Carleton University in Environmental Studies and a minor in Political Science.
We encourage the use of active transportation such as walking or biking. The house is just off the Iron Horse Trail. It is also easily accessible by GRT bus routes that use Queen and have stops near Mill St. If you drive, please consider carpooling with others you know are attending.
You are welcome to use Schneider Ave or David Street parking. The Victoria Park Pavilion parking lot is also free to use and only a few minutes walk to the Reep House. Please do not park at the Schneider Haus or Mitchell St lots (click to enlarge map)
05 Oct 2018
**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**
02 Apr 2018
UPDATE: The Region of Waterloo, and cities of Cambridge, Kitchener, and Waterloo councils have unanimously approved an 80% greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction target by 2050!
If you’re interested in being involved in real change happening in our region to take action on climate change, read on. ClimateActionWR (co-led by Reep Green Solutions and Sustainable Waterloo Region) will be presenting a long-term greenhouse gas emissions reduction target to the councils of the three cities and the Region of Waterloo in the coming weeks. We are proposing a target of 80% below our 2010 levels of greenhouse gas emissions, to be reached by 2050. Within the next several weeks we hope that the four councils will approve the target
We encourage you to reach out to your city council and/or regional council to share your views on the long-term target. This could be in the form of a delegation (5 minute speech) or an email.
In a short email or delegation you may speak as citizens, professionals, or parents explaining why addressing climate change and investing in the green economy is a priority for you, your business or your family’s future.
The long-term target will be considered on the following dates:
• City of Waterloo – COMPLETE
• City of Cambridge – COMPLETE
• Region of Waterloo – COMPLETE
Below, I have included a list of email addresses for councilors, as well as information on how to register to give a delegation.
Points that you could address in an email or delegation speech include:
- Strong scientific consensus confirms the global economy must eliminate carbon by the middle of the century and we need for our community to do our part in achieving that.
- The necessity of being leaders on climate change to support the development of clean-tech business across Waterloo Region and to keep more of the money we spend on energy in our community.
- Our community’s ongoing leadership and innovation on the environment and preparing for a sustainable future.
- The additional benefits of reducing our GHG emissions such as cleaner air, mitigating severe weather, healthier and more liveable communities and diverse transportation options.
If you are able to provide a delegation, please register as soon as possible! You may also visit the ClimateActionWR for more updates on this target and the upcoming delegations.
This is a historic moment for our community that you can be a part of. We want to give councillors as much support as possible in approving this target!
Mary Jane Patterson, Executive Director
Councillors’ email addresses:
Region of Waterloo (all council members): <[email protected]>
City of Cambridge: <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>
City of Kitchener: <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>
City of Waterloo: <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>
Register to speak to council as a delegation:
Region of Waterloo: https://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/regional-government/communicate-with-council.aspx
09 Sep 2017
SUSTAINABLE LIVING SPEAKERS SERIES and Open House
From art to action
For her yearlong project as the City of Kitchener’s 2017 artist in residence, Julie Sperling is engaging the community in an open dialogue about the environment using a series of mosaics.
At this presentation, hear her thoughts about climate change from the perspective a mosaic artist. Tour REEP house, and make a small mosaic to contribute to Julie’s final project.
Julie Sperling is a Canadian mosaic artist based in Kitchener, Ontario. Her studio practice finds her camped out at the intersection of art, environment, science, and policy, and she firmly believes in the important role that artists play as advocates, activists, and change-makers.
- Presentation: 1:30 p.m.
- Q & A: 2 p.m.
OPEN HOUSE: 2:15 – 3:30 P.M.
Stay to explore the REEP House for Sustainable Living. Or come especially to check out the house’s environmental features.
14 Jun 2017
by Mary Jane Patterson, Executive Director
Drumroll please: We are just past the halfway mark in our Climate Action plan for Waterloo Region, and the results are in:
- Our emissions have gone down by 5.2% – great news! And getting closer to our target of 6% below 2010 levels by 2020, if we can keep it up.
- Most of the heavy lifting was done by the province, by closing down the coal generating stations. So what was the impact of our local actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Without the province’s changes, our local emissions would have gone up by 4.4%. Wrong direction!
- But taken in context, we have made progress locally. During that same time period, our economy grew by 14% and our population by 5.7 %. Our local actions meant that emissions did not grow at the same rate – we separated emissions growth from population and economic growth. This is an important step forward.
The most concerning information we see in the Progress Report is the growth in emissions from transportation. During the time period of 2010 to 2015, vehicle ownership in Waterloo Region grew at twice the rate of population growth. Transportation emissions now make up 49% of our carbon footprint, and they’re continuing to grow. That is our biggest challenge as a community going forward.
3 ways to reduce your carbon footprint
Here’s three ways each of us can do to reduce our own carbon footprint and help us reach our target as a community:
- Pick one thing related to our daily/weekly routine that could reduce emissions, and make it a new habit. It will cost little or nothing, and can make a big difference over time. The Progress Report has a list of actions we can all do for each focus area.
- Make each new purchase for your home, vehicle or workplace a transformational one. The kind of thing that means without thinking, your normal daily activities are now lower in carbon emissions. Appliances, lighting, vehicles – all of these purchases have long lasting impacts, and by choosing well at the time we buy, we can significantly reduce the emissions they create throughout their lifetime.
- Step out of our comfort zone and speak up on this issue. Let politicians and others know this matters to us, to support them in making decisions that look ahead for generations in our community.
In fact, there’s an opportunity to have our say and to hear what our community could look like in the future, coming up.
Community engagement kicks of June 22
Join us on June 22 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Our Progress, Our Path event as we kick off several months of community engagement on visioning our long-term path to reducing emissions. Join the conversation, and hear from 2 or 3 speakers about the big changes that we could adopt, or are adopting locally, and the impact they’ll have.
Let’s build on our success, together!
What excites me about the direction we’re going in with ClimateActionWR is that as a community we’re planning for the future we want, not the future that comes when you’re not paying attention. And that’s a future for sustainable living that builds prosperity and attracts talent to our community. The warm reception for our Progress Report at all three city councils and the Region demonstrated the political awareness and support we have in Waterloo Region for a low carbon economy, and the desire to do more. Let’s build on that together.
10 Sep 2016
Open House 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. / Speaker: 1:30
Climate Action & You: Contributing to our collective impact
Speaker: Danielle Laperriere
Join the Plan Manager of ClimateActionWR to explore changes you can make in your daily life and at home to contribute to our collective impact. Learn how you can play a role in achieving our community carbon reduction target!
Danielle Laperriere facilitates the ClimateActionWR partnership between Sustainable Waterloo Region, REEP Green Solutions and the Region of Waterloo, along with area municipalities, local energy utilities and the community at large. She is responsible for developing relationships among partners, guiding and executing project planning, and managing external communication.
Danielle has a Bachelor’s of Environmental Studies in International Development from the University of Waterloo and is currently pursuing a part-time Sustainable MBA from Green Mountain College.
More Green Energy Doors Open
There’s another event in Kitchener that runs at about the same: Tour Under The Shade Of Solar Panels At MCC Ontario