Kudos from the Glebe Zero Waste Committee Putting trash to better use with Earthub

Brittany Belanger, a student at the University of Ottawa, started Earthub to find ways to recycle or reuse things we now mostly discard.   Photo: Jenna Desaulniers

By Katie Fice

Brittany Belanger, a student at the University of Ottawa, realized that many of the people she interacted with every day did not understand how lifestyle choices affect the planet. To help change that, she launched an organization called Earthub in January 2019.

“My mission is to reveal the science behind green initiatives,” says Belanger, “to keep items out of the landfill, and one day, once I am an established engineer, apply sustainability across all infrastructure design.” She aims to spread awareness about sustainability and explain how to reduce and prevent further damage to our planet. “I wanted to make a platform available that provided actual scientific facts using the knowledge I have from the civil/environmental engineering discipline.”

“My first point to get across is prevention and reduction,” Belanger said in a recent email exchange. “I am a strong believer in this and getting it across through my organization Earthub.” This means helping people to choose not to buy more than they need and not to buy things they don’t need.

Belanger realizes that some lifestyle choices are hard to change. “I do acknowledge that people eat eggs bought in egg cartons, they drink bagged milk, they take prescription medication in plastic bottles. I did my research on where these items could be diverted and began collecting them in order to put them to a higher use.” Some items collected by Earthub are shipped in bulk outside Ottawa while others are dealt with locally. While this allows more items to be reused, it is not an ideal solution because it requires shipping, which has its own carbon footprint. To help offset this problem, Belanger ships in bulk, reducing the number of shipments to minimize carbon emissions.

Earthub is dedicated to collaboration, which has led Belanger to partner with a wide variety of people and organizations. “I have worked closely with Eco West Enders and Empties 4 Paws Barrhaven since the very beginning. We collaborated to help each other keep certain items out of the landfill. Earthub has connected me with so many great people.” Belanger is full of ideas and passion to reduce waste and provide opportunities for items to be reused. “Seeing it all come together brought tears of happiness to my eyes,” she said. “I just want to change the world for the better.”

The Glebe Community Association’s Zero Waste Committee is inspired by Belanger and would like to partner with Earthub to keep reusable items out of the landfill by establishing one or more drop-off locations in the Glebe. If you are interested in volunteering to help, please send an email to environment@glebeca.ca, attention Katie, to learn more. It’s as easy as “playing host” to a specially marked bin where your neighbours can deposit their reusables, or you can help by delivering collected items to Earthub headquarters.

Please send an email to info@earthub.ca to learn about other drop-off locations around the city for the items listed below or to get an Earthub bin to keep your donated items until drop-off. Earthub has recently launched a “zero-waste starter kit” called Earthub Tubs. You can learn more about the tubs and Earthub at earthub.ca.

If you’ve been making efforts to reduce your waste, we may feature you in a future column. Please send a short paragraph explaining how you are reducing your household or business waste to environment@glebeca.ca, attention Katie.

Katie Fice joined the Glebe Community Association Zero Waste Committee (a subcommittee of the Environment Committee) to learn more about waste reduction and to help raise awareness of simple changes in our daily living that can have a big impact on the environment.

 Here’s what Earthub collects and why:

  • prescription pill bottles, cleaned with label and residue removed (donated to a disaster relief organization to use for medical supplies – International)
  • mascara wands, wand part only (donated to a wildlife refuge to use as brushes – International)
  • aluminum pop cans, (donated to raise funds for Empties 4 Paws – Ottawa)
  • 4L milk bags, outside bag, not bag holding the milk (donated to DND’s workplace campaign to support the Royal Canadian Legion for the #LeavetheStreetsBehind Operation to make milk bag sleeping mats for homeless veterans – Ottawa)
  • egg cartons (both cardboard and plastic ones are donated to food banks – Ottawa)
  • broken or single use crayons, lip balm, and glue stick tubes (melted down and used in #OperationChristmasChild shoe boxes – Ottawa)
  • plastic snack/kid smoothie pouches and caps (donated to Eco West Enders in Stittsville – Ottawa)
  • hotel/spa/wedding slippers (donated to ReCreativity Ottawa to decorate for reuse – Ottawa)
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