It's the second year for the Brandon Green Business Awards, and there are two recipients this year!

The initiative debuted last year as a partnership between the City of Brandon and the Brandon Chamber of Commerce, to recognize and celebrate businesses that have taken the initiative to employ efforts in sustainability, water conservation, and waste diversion efforts.  

Upon reviewing several applications, The Green Spot Home & Garden and Spruce Woods Housing Co-op each received an award this fall for their efforts in reducing their carbon footprint.

The Green Spot Home & Garden practices running a green business in more than just growing plants! Owner Bernie Whetter has sought out ways to reuse and recycle many different items and products in the stocking of their garden nursery, gift shop, food products and clothing lines.

Whetter says they've found a variety of ways to ensure that waste cardboard, soil and plant materials, and packaging paper are sent to the proper distribution sites for recycling or composting.

"So much of what we sell is imported out of country," shares Whetter, "so we're doing what we can to recycle as much material as we can."

Collected cardboard is put in a dumpster for Overland Recycling Materials to pick up and deliver to the City of Brandon's recycling depot. "So, all of our cardboard goes in there, and you can imagine pretty well everything that comes into us is shipped in a cardboard box. So, we do generate a lot of waste cardboard."

The Green Spot also generates a large amount of used soil and plant material, which includes plants that have been culled or have died or are no longer sellable. "We're then dumping out a lot of soil and a lot of plant material," he explains. "So, we dump those into bins and Smiley Worms comes in on a weekly basis to pick up these bins and composts them and then dumps them into his worm vats and the worms do their thing and make vermiculture. So, that's a great way to recycle that!"

Smiley Worms also takes all of the recycled office paper at the Green Spot to their worm farm just south of Brandon.

In addition to this, The Green Spot bi-annually collects garden plastics from customers used to contain bedding plants, nursery plants, or perennials (#2, #5, #6).  They combine with their own used garden plastics to re-use what they can and send the remainder to be shredded and recycled with Lewis Materials Recycling which is on the same grounds as The Green Spot.  Lewis Materials also collects these same plastics from other gardening centres in Brandon, Portage and Winnipeg.

A few years ago, The Green Spot opened a Manitoba Foods Market section which primarily sells food products produced in Manitoba. Where possible, they market products made from recycled plastic, such as their Adirondack chairs which are manufactured in Stratford, Ontario.

The chairs are made of recycled plastic milk jugs and are very popular because of our Manitoba climate.  The hardy plastic can be left outside in every season and doesn't weather, so there is no cracking or splitting like what wooden outdoor furniture will do, and it comes it an assortment of fun, bright colors.

"It's heavy," notes Whetter. "One of those chairs weighs 60 pounds with stainless steel screws holding it together so it's not going anywhere! If you have it on your dock at the lake it's not going to blow off, and if it does there's no wood content, it's not a composite, its solid plastic, so it will go straight to the bottom of the lake! It's not going to drift away on you!"

Guess how many milk jugs it takes to make one chair?

In addition to the Adirondack chairs, many of their patio planter pots are made of recycled plastic as well.  "More and more, we're seeing materials that are made of recycled plastic, so it's good to see that we're able to get some second use out of the plastic."

Future initiatives include considering the plan to install solar panels on site. 

Whetter says it would far easier just to load up everything and bring it to the dump, however they are very conscientious about doing all that they can do to be as 'green' as possible for the sake of our landfills and the globe as a whole.  "It's just been a practice of ours, and we're getting better at it," he adds. "We're not 100% but we're certainly in the high percentile of what we can reuse and recycle."

Guess how many milk jugs it takes to make on chair? Approximately 570!



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