2014 Mobius Award Winners

RRFB Nova Scotia hosted the 16th annual Mobius Awards of Environmental Excellence on October 15, 2014 at Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Small Business of the Year: WearWell Garments Company, Ltd., Stellarton 

Our winner this year is a major part of Pictou County’s business community, with 100 full-time employees. As a full-line clothing manufacturer for institutional, promotional and corporate markets, their production lines generate between 1,200 and 1,500 pieces of clothing every day. Their biggest waste product, as you might imagine, is fabric scrap. Since 2008, they’ve recycled between 80,000 and 100,000 pounds of scrap fabric every year. If not recycled, it would end up at a second-generation landfill in Guysborough, but instead, it all gets shipped to a textile recycler for a second life. Besides scrap fabric, they’ve dedicated their business to environmental responsibility by recycling all paper, plastic, refundable containers, and cardboard. Proceeds from refundables are donated to the IWK.

Large Business of the Year: Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation

Zero waste might seem unattainable, but that’s exactly the goal that NSLC has set for itself, and they’re actually exceeding it. Zero Waste means diverting 95% of solid waste from landfills. That means cans, bottles, cardboard boxes, plastic bags and everything else. Many of their stores actually surpass this, reaching 98% and 99% diversion. NSLC was the first liquor jurisdiction in Canada to implement a program like this, and that’s just part of its commitment to environmental stewardship.

Institution of the Year: The Meadows Home for Special Care, Yarmouth

The Meadows is a long-term health care facility in Yarmouth that proves on a daily basis that a lot of small efforts add up to a big impact. With 105 residents and 200 staff in a 97,000 square foot building, there is a lot of waste to handle. That’s why The Meadows has implemented numerous environmental awareness initiatives. They provide waste-separation guides for residents, use solar panels to preheat water. They use bottles for condiments instead of single-serving packets, and use an on-site garden to grow food for residents and staff. Old linens and towels are reused as cleaning rags. They had Efficiency NS install LED night lights in residents’ washrooms, and they use LED lights where lighting is required 24 hours a day. They also use environmentally-friendly cleaning products, separate hazardous waste for collection by a private company, and use timers to turn off lights when not in use. Staff and residents at The Meadows are enormously proud of their achievements, and Nova Scotia is proud of them.

Innovation in Waste Reduction: The Last Re-Sort Reuse Centre

This inventive pilot project started two years ago and has become a creative waste-diversion strategy, as well as a successful rescue mission. In 2012, Valley Waste Resource Management opened the Last Re-Sort Reuse Centre as a six-month project. The idea was to take items that had been thrown away, consider them in a different light, clean them up, and find them a new home. Reusable waste products are rescued at Valley Waste’s transfer station and brought to the Reuse Centre store. Every Saturday, from 9 am to noon, staff sells lumber, bricks, toys, bikes, furniture, auto parts, small appliances, and many other items. That six-month project has become an important part of Valley Waste’s landfill-diversion strategy, and today diverts three tonnes of household material and two tonnes of construction material every month. Their goal isn’t just to divert material, but to change people’s idea of what waste is, by highlighting the re-usability and desirability of what they might otherwise throw away.

Waste Reduction Education Program: Department of Community Development, Acadia University

Educating Nova Scotia’s next generation about our collective impact on the natural world is incredibly important. Planet Protectors is a partnership between Acadia University’s Community Development Department and Valley Waste Resource Management. It provides a hands-on tour of Kentville’s waste-management site, using a sci-fi time-travelling storyline to impress upon kids the importance of environmental responsibility. In the story, time travelers from the future explain how the world has become deep in “the dumps,” and ask youth to do their part to avoid that fate. Kids learn about the soil cycle from an on-site compost facility, play a waste sorting game at the transfer station, and even use a “human conveyor belt” to learn about sorting waste. They learn how to take better care of the world we live in, and why it’s so important in the first place.

Individual Excellence in Waste Reduction: Holly Morton, Yarmouth

Don’t let anyone tell you that one person cannot make a difference, because Holly Morton handily disproves that. She “upcycles” Yarmouth’s waste, from old stuffed animals to jewellery, and turns it into beautiful art objects, redesigned toys, and household decorations. She’s even made more than 100 birdhouses out of salvaged wood and placed them across town, with the cooperation of some innovation-friendly employees at Yarmouth’s parks department. Her efforts are about to be recognized in a new book called “Retrash,” which chronicles the work of 82 artists around the world who are reducing waste through innovative recycling and upcycling and making us think twice about the value of what we throw away.

School of the Year: Tompkins Memorial Elementary, Reserve Mines

In Reserve Mines, Cape Breton, the 155 students at Tompkins Memorial Elementary School are pulling together in a joint effort to clean up their school and their community -- and the initiative came entirely from the students themselves. When grade five students noticed what seemed like more and more garbage on school grounds, they decided to team up with Green Schools Nova Scotia to put together a recycling awareness program and present it to the entire school. They created an imaginative video showcasing how the school can better manage its waste, and have planned a host of activities and events to keep support and interest going. When the program began earlier this year, 73% of the school’s garbage was heading to landfill. Today that number is already down to 32%, and shrinking further. Their goal is to have at least one “zero-garbage day.” It’s incredible to see a group of young people who not only took an interest in their environment, but also spearheaded a movement in their own school and kept it going. 

Honourable Mention for School of the Year: West Northfield Elementary

When you walk through the front doors at West Northfield Elementary School in Lunenburg County, the first thing you see is a big sign by the gym, asking visitors to respect the school’s recycling practices. That dedication plays out throughout West Northfield Elementary, where sorting signage is maintained on all waste containers, resulting in a diversion rate of 80 percent. The school’s weekly newsletter is electronic-only, saving hundreds of sheets of paper per week. Student records are filed exclusively online. And the school is chock full of unique, environmentally-focused programs, from raising butterflies to “Wasteless Wednesdays” and a litter-free playground contest. The Grade 6 Green Team even makes presentations to younger students about recycling and promoting other green initiatives. In fact, the kids are so dedicated, that the weak spot in the school turned out to be the staff room! But the students got the teachers on track with proper signage has been created and diversion rates have increased. West Northfield is a school that lives and breathes environmental responsibility, from big-picture projects to everyday initiatives. 

Best Community-Based Project: Beacon United Church

A church is the heart of its community, and Beacon United Church in Yarmouth is using its community-building role to spread the gospel of green far and wide. Not only do the pastor and caretakers encourage congregants to sort and recycle waste, but they have a passionate environmental champion in Stephen Sollows, chair of the stewardship committee. He takes a role as Beacon’s “Green Enthusiast,” donning a green cap during services to discuss environmentally-friendly initiatives. There’s more: Beacon’s bible school reserves a day to teach children about the importance of caring for the planet. Yarmouth residents can adopt a plot in Beacon’s community garden, and food waste from the daycare and other groups is composted and used in the garden. When a new roof was recently installed, the old insulation was reused, diverting it from landfill, and when community members rent church facilities, they must sign a user agreement stipulating that they sort their waste and abide by the church’s own stringent green standards. For embodying the spirit of green living and being leaders in their community, Beacon United Church is our Best Community-Based Project.

Honourable Mention, Best Community-Based Project: Association for Textile Recycling

The Association for Textile Recycling (AFTeR) is not even a year old, and they’re already winners. The association comprises not-for-profits and other organizations throughout the province who collect and recycle old clothes and household textiles through clothing bins and drop-off centres. Formally established just this spring, their goal is to encourage greater textile diversion among the public. With more than 500 drop-off bins across the province, and household pick-up in most communities, they’ve already managed to keep 7,000 tonnes of textiles from Nova Scotia landfills. Their public outreach and cooperative partnerships with other not-for-profits have brought them a great deal of attention already, and their profile is only growing.