LIVING GREEN BARRIE
Thirty years ago, responding to a vague ad placed in the Barrie Examiner, a group of concerned citizens met to discuss environmental issues. From talk to action, Barrie’s first registered environmental charity was formed the following year in 1991. Known then as Environmental Action Barrie, Living Green sought to tackle local environmental problems.
One of their first major projects was to run a city-wide water and energy saving program which saw thousands of low-flow toilets and showerheads installed. When funding was cut to this program, they refocussed on waste and started an “alternative recycling depot” to take on plastics; something the city had not yet started collecting. Once a month at the museum on Mulcaster Street, volunteers sorted the plastics into their various categories and drove it to Lindsay to be turned into plastic lumber.
Since those early days, Living Green has initiated numerous projects to make Barrie a cleaner and more sustainable city. They ran a store selling “Lake Simcoe-friendly” cleaning products in re-fillable containers, began the “Spring Into Clean” city-wide garbage pick up days, and operated an upcycled clothing store that taught people repair skills.
“We love it when something we start gets picked up by someone else; it means we’re doing things that work well” says Andee Pelan, Living Green’s Project Director.
Today, Living Green focuses on GreenScreen (a monthly public education series), FruitShare, and their Tree Planting programs. Unfortunately, these events have been cancelled for this spring due to COVID-19, but they plan to reschedule for the fall, if possible.
With all events cancelled, Living Green has set its sights on delivering a rain barrel home delivery fundraiser. This sale offers residents of Barrie, Orillia, Alliston, Oro, Springwater, and Innisfil the ability to purchase repurposed rain barrels for the collection of rainwater. Not only do rain barrels help save residents money on their water bills, they provide sustainably harvested water for gardens, and help protect Lake Simcoe. Living Green receives $10/barrel to help deliver their programs. Go to https://rainbarrel.ca/truckload-sales/.
While the COVID-19 pandemic “curveball” has changed how Living Green currently operates, it does not stop the determination of Barrie’s long-standing environmental charity to expand. By conference call in March, five new members were voted in, expanding the Board of Directors membership from six to 11.
Of the new members: Alison Carlyle, Anna Olan, Deanna DeForest, Deb Woods, and Michelle Greenwood; three of the five surnames seem to be related to “green living” and tree planting. It makes one wonder if a last name determines one’s destiny, or is this a happy coincidence?
“We are delighted that these five new members are going to bring new energy into Living Green," Pelan says. “Their time and experience will help make Barrie a greener city that is more resilient to climate change. They are going to be essential in determining the future path of this organization.”
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The theme for Earth Day 2020 is climate action, something that is also at the core of Living Green’s Strategic Vision.
“The pandemic has provided us with a pause; a chance to re-think how we live and what is important to us,” adds Pelan.
Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable. She hopes that this represents a turning point and people can see past the challenges towards the opportunities that this crisis might bring.
Expect to see more of Living Green tackling environmental issues head on as they look to the future and remain hopeful. Although celebrations look different this year, Living Green Barrie would like to wish a very happy Earth Day to everyone!
Please visit www.livinggreenbarrie.com for more information on the rain barrel sale, our 11 board members, to donate to the 10,000 Trees for Barrie Campaign or for volunteer opportunities.