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Zero Waste Festival – Frequently Asked Questions, and more!


The first ever Zero Waste Festival is less than one week away!

We are incredibly thrilled to be putting on the first ever Zero Waste Festival in Guelph, Ontario! As the recipients of a 2018 Ontario Trillium Foundation Seed Grant, we have been privileged to offer a whole year of exciting and engaging workshops and sessions with a focus on low-waste living and sustainable practices. These workshops have been held in our tool library, and at offsite spaces like the Guelph Farmer’s Market, the Guelph Public Library, 10C Shared space, and even in the neighborhood tent at Hillside Festival. The Zero Waste Festival came together as a way of culminating what we have learned and shared, and presenting is to as many community members as possible, at a thrilling one-day event.

If you haven’t RSVP’d yet, head on over to Eventbrite, and let us know you’re coming. The day will boast a jam-packed schedule of repairing, sharing, and learning at a whole host of ticketed and drop-in events.

Got more questions? Check our FAQ Section!


What are the festival hours?

The Zero Waste Festival will open to the public at 10 am, and will remain open until 5 pm. The lobby will open for registration purposes at 9:45 am, to allow guests to confirm the time and location of any workshops or sessions they are attending. 

The Repair Cafe will run from 10 am-1pm, and the CSA Bike Centre Repair Station (located outside) will run from 10 am-2pm.

Is the Zero Waste Festival Free? 

The event is by donation. There is no cost to attend the vendor fair, or any other events taking place in the outdoor areas, or in the arena, including drop-in workshops, or the Repair Cafe.  Donations will always be happily accepted by our volunteers (look for the bright green aprons!). Ticketed workshops are by donation, and should be purchased ahead of time to ensure adequate space is available. 

What’s the difference between “ticketed” and “drop-in” sessions?

Ticketed events have a limited number of spaces available per session. Pre-registration for these events is required, with admission by donation via Eventbrite, or in person at the Guelph Tool Library during our regular hours. Guests are asked to make a contribution in exchange for a ticket (suggested donation of $5-$15). This helps cover the cost of the workshops held for this event, and any additional funds acquired will aid our workshop budget in the upcoming fiscal year. Any remaining spots for these classes will be available first come, first serve on August 10th at the Guest Services table, located at the main entrance.

Drop-in sessions take place in the arena, and pre-registration is not required. Guests are accepted on a first-come, first serve basis, and all workshops are while quantities last.

How do I sign up for a ticketed workshop or talk?

When you select an Early Bird Ticket ($25), Golden Ticket ($35) or single workshop or talk (by donation) on Eventbrite, you will be sent a survey to fill out with the session(s) of your choice. Please fill one out for each registrant in your party. In the days before the festival, we will send out itineraries to each attendee – check your spam folder for any incoming communications from our festival organizers. We will also inform everyone if any workshops or sessions become more than 90% sold out. 

Do I need to print my ticket?

No! In an effort to keep this event as low-waste as possible, please don’t print your ticket. You can download your e-tickets and schedule to your phone if you are bringing one. All attendees for ticketed sessions should check in at Guest Services, right at the upper-level main entrance to verify the time and location of the session. Site maps and schedules will be available on-site, printed on rescued paper!

What should I bring?

Guests should bring their reusable water bottles (no packaged water will be sold on site). The Water Wagon will be located outside offering free water refills, and there are water fountains located in the arena, and on the lower level. Please also remember to bring a reusable bag to take home your purchases and projects, and reusable containers for food and bulk refill purchases. We will have spare containers for bulk refill available if you’re looking to start your own Zero Waste home. All food vendors are provided with reusable dishes, cutlery, and cups (generously offered from Hillside Festival). We have four food vendors on offer, but it’s always a good idea to pack some snacks or a picnic. There are plenty of spaces indoors and outside to stop and have lunch or a snack. 

Most importantly, bring a positive attitude and an open mind! The Zero Waste Festival is designed to be a learning experience for all involved. 

How early should I arrive if I have signed up for a workshop or talk? 

Please arrive to the location of your workshop or talk at least five minutes early. This will allow the assistant to take attendance, and give everyone time to get settled so that the workshop can begin on time. 

Is the space accessible? Are there gender neutral washrooms available? 

The Victoria Road Rec Centre is fully accessible. There are accessible parking spaces located at the upper and lower entrances. The upper entrance, where guest services is located, is adjacent to the elevator that will take guests up to the second floor classrooms (Willow and Cedar rooms), and down to the Oak Room. The arena is on the same level as the upper entrance, and the arena doors are equipped with ramps for accessibility. 

Gender neutral, accessible washrooms are located on the lower level, near the lower entrance doors. Other washrooms are located on the main floor. 

What’s the parking/transit situation?

The Victoria Road Rec Centre is equipped with ample free parking. Due to the nature of this festival, we encourage guests to use public or active transportation, or to carpool where possible. The VRRC is located on the #13 bus route which departs from Guelph Central Station, and is a short walk from the #17/#18 routes that services the North, West, East, and South ends of town. There is ample bike parking on site, and free bike maintenance, safety checks, and advice will be available from the CSA Bike Centre and Repair Cafe Volunteer team from 10 am-2pm, on the lawn by the lower bike racks.

Is the space family friendly?

YES! There will be hands-on games and activities at the Water Wagon and the City of Guelph booths, as well as many kid friendly vendors and drop-in sessions. Our ticketed workshops may run a bit long for young ones, and all ticketed workshop attendees must be pre-registered, regardless of age, due to the size constraints of the classrooms. On the front lawn of the Victoria Road Rec Centre, there is a large play space with room to run around and blow off steam!

What about my dog/cat/gerbil/bird/snake etc?

While we love all critters – and we want pets to live sustainably, too, only humans and service animals are permitted at the Zero Waste Festival. Please leave your furry/feathered/scaled etc friends at home.   


If you have any other questions regarding the Zero Waste Festival, please contact us at 

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The Crow is Leaving the Nest


Guelph Tool Library is becoming an Incorporated Not-For-Profit Organization

The Guelph Tool Library is pleased to announce that it is becoming an incorporated not-for-profit organization commencing Thursday August 1, 2019.  The project began in August 2016 and has expanded to a full service tool library with over 375 members, 700 plus tools and appliances in inventory, and nearly 4000 loans completed.

The Guelph Tool Library began as a project of Transition Guelph and started from a need identified through the work of Susan Carey and Transition Guelph’s Urban Food Working Group.  Carey found that with these projects, she was helping people to grow and harvest food but that many of the tools and appliances were out of reach for new gardeners or those with limited resources.  She says that the idea “ was to provide a community resource that was easily accessible, had a good selection of appliances and tools, and affordable.”

Carey founded the Guelph Tool Library with John Dennis and Saba Saneinejad.  The project began modestly and grew through the support of our members, volunteers, and the community.  Grants and support from our partners, the City of Guelph, the Province, and the Federal Government have allowed the Guelph Tool Library to grow. The Guelph Tool Library is now open five days a week and averaging over 100 loans per week.  Dennis says that “we knew we were onto something as everyone we told about the Guelph Tool Library thought it was a great idea and had ideas on what we should acquire for our inventory.”

Critical to the growth of the Guelph Tool Library has been the bi-monthly Repair Café Guelph organized by Saba Saneinejad.  Saneinejad brought the idea of the Repair Café from Toronto and ran the first Repair Café in August 2016. She says “I loved the idea of fixing and repairing broken and damaged items that would normally just be thrown away.  There are many talented people in Guelph who we have been fortunate to have as volunteers at the Repair Cafés. In addition to fixing the items visitors bring, they teach them basic repairing skills. Repair Cafés are fun days involving fixing things, building a community and protecting our environment. ”  Since the beginning, the Repair Café Guelph has served over 1000 people and diverted over 3000 kilograms of waste from the landfill.

Focusing on the idea of repairing, repurposing, and waste reduction has become the central theme of the Guelph Tool Library.  Led by Zero Waste Coordinator, Stephanie Clarke, the Guelph Tool Library has been running a series of classes focusing on zero waste.  Supported through an Ontario Trillium Foundation Grant, the programming will culminate with a Zero Waste Festival on Saturday August 10 at the Victoria Road Recreation Centre.  Clarke says “since September, we have been running a workshop series that allows participants to cut down on waste and creatively reuse everyday items, all while learning about how waste is processed in our city and beyond. Our programming provides the community a chance to actively participate in the recycling and reusing process, and demonstrate the importance of careful consumerism.”

The Guelph Seed Library which is housed at the Guelph Tool Library will be part of the new organization.  Started by Lisa Conroy in 2018, the Guelph Seed Library is a collection of mostly locally grown seeds where anyone can “borrow” seeds for free. The goal being to grow the plants and return a similar quantity or more to give back to the seed library for the next year.  Conroy says “the Seed Library is grateful for the support Transition Guelph gave us to start up and is looking forward to our ongoing partnership with the Guelph Tool Library.”

The Guelph Tool Library’s move away from Transition Guelph will allow it to continue to run new and innovative programming while working towards gaining  charitable status. Guelph Tool Library Coordinator Emily Duncan says that “Transition Guelph was critical for us as we started but we have reached a point where we need to take the next steps on our own.  It will allow us to respond quicker to our members and decide the direction of the organization. We are excited about the possibilities that this presents and we look forward to continuing to serve Guelph through our programming”.

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Take-away the waste

fresh city farms

When trying to reduce waste, one of the hardest things to give up is convenience foods. Tetra Paks, the dreaded black plastic, styrofoam, and so much cellophane stand between the consumer and a quick, convenient meal. Even at many fast food and carry-out places, there’s single use cutlery, condiments, and containers to contend with.

Recently, many local takeout places and chains have been opting for low-waste packaging or a bring-your-own-container system. A&W has cut plastic straws from their offerings, and has a limited amount of plastic in their packaging. They use post-consumer recycled paper on their takeout bags and tray liners, and in-house, their food is served largely on reusable plates, with drinks in their quintessential frosty mugs.

A couple of weeks ago, we had a meeting with all Guelph Tool Library coordinators, and we wanted to order in a lunch. As if on cue, Kirtida Kitchen announced a Bring Your Own Container program. We were able to get a delicious meal for 6 people with no plastic or paper waste. When I asked the owner of the store about the new initiative, he said he had several customers that already did it, and he felt it just made sense to make it part of their regular offerings. Since the launch of the program, many new and old customers have come in with their own containers.

My experience with BYOC has been pretty limited so far, mostly to coffee shops, bakeries, and bulk food stores, all well received. I decided to ask the members of a local Facebook group what their experience had been. Here’s one members thoughts:

Most places are fine with it! but won’t offer discounts. I bring my own container to Boon Burger, Crafty Ramen, and anywhere I go out to eat for dinner, nobody has complained with me packing my food myself in a container for leftovers… going to bigger takeout chains poses a problem because employees are required to follow company standards, but anywhere that’s small scale has no issue!

Another member says, “As a person who works at chain restaurant, we wouldn’t have any issue with you bringing your own container. This is Fionn MacCool’s. Whatever floats your boat.”

In the group conversation, members also suggested that The Greek Garden, The Hungry Ninja, and Na-Ha Thai’s Kitchen all allowed some form of a BYOC takeout practice, and no group members have reported any hesitation or resistance from the restaurants they propose this to.

One member brought up that for every good initiative like this, takeout places still contend with a lot of food loss and waste, and if they offer delivery, whether through their own service or a third-party company, the amount of carbon offset by patrons who opt-out of disposables would be doubled by those having food delivered to their home or office.

What about for those on the go with no container? A program that offered an “on-loan” reusable would help you get the food you want now, without contributing to plastic waste later. Toronto based meal-delivery service Fresh City Farms offers ready-made meals  and grocery items delivered in reusable cooler bags and containers. Customers pay a deposit for the bags, and containers are returned and sanitized for reuse. They also have two storefront locations for local pickup, and much of the food is grown at their Downsview Farm location, which has a year-round greenhouse.

In a recent announcement, 25 major brands have committed to selling products in returnable, reusable containers. This “return of the milkman” system could allow consumers to enjoy the convenience foods they love, while putting the responsibility on the manufacturer to care for the packaging in a circular way. Loop is being piloted in Paris and New York this year, but is expected to reach Toronto by 2020.

The University of Guelph Icon Classroom will work over multiple semesters to audit, eliminate, and replace single-use plastics on campus. In a unique approach to thinking and learning, students will assess the use of plastics campus-wide, and work to provide solutions for their removal.

What can we do in the meantime? As consumers, we can continue to challenge the status quo by saying no. When we are prepared to say no, and keep our own reusable solutions handy, we reduce our need. By refusing single-use cutlery, plastic bags, and packaging wherever possible, we send a message to manufacturers and disrupt the way corporations think. If companies find themselves needing less single-use items in their daily operations, it is likely that they will order less, and by extension, manufacturers will produce less, or begin producing other still-needed, but more sustainable items. This is one way to promote sustainability without a major economic shift, or risk of collapse. 

How will you cut down on your single-use waste this year?