Back in August, Ucluelet Co-op staff joined representatives from Eco-Growth Environmental and Assured Renewables for a hands-on training session. The team learned how to use their new food waste converter and what they can and can’t throw in the machine. (Westerly File Photo)

Back in August, Ucluelet Co-op staff joined representatives from Eco-Growth Environmental and Assured Renewables for a hands-on training session. The team learned how to use their new food waste converter and what they can and can’t throw in the machine. (Westerly File Photo)

Ucluelet Co-op nominated for sustainability award

“We need to take care of where we live and a lot of the members feel the same way.”

Green steps taken by the Ucluelet Co-op haven’t gone unnoticed by Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) of Western Canada.

The small town grocer was recently nominated by the massive Co-operative Retailing System for a sustainability award. General manager Laurie Gehrke and board president Gordon Dunsmore will travel to Saskatoon at the beginning of March for the awards ceremony, joining representatives from over 200 retail co-operatives in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

This is the first award the Ucluelet Co-op has ever been nominated for by the FCL, according Gehrke.

“It’s a pretty big deal for us. It’s a good thing,” she said. “Co-op is rocking it.”

In the spring of 2017, Ucluelet Co-op teamed up with Surfrider Pacific Rim Foundation to phase out single-use plastic bags at the till. They replaced the plastic bag option with free cardboard boxes, paper bags for ten cents or reusable cloth bags for one dollar.

“There has been push back for sure. Every step of the way there is going to be push back,” said Gehrke. “People thought it was a money grab, but it’s not. If anything it’s costing us more.”

READ: Plastic bags nixed at Ucluelet Co-op (Apr. 18, 2017)

In the summer of 2018, Ucluelet Co-op became the first business in B.C. to own a food waste digester. Dubbed ‘EGOR™’, the machine can process up to 500-pounds of organic waste per day, including items like coffee cups, wooden stir sticks, bamboo cutlery, and even small bones and deep fryer grease.

Gehrke said, much like nixing plastic bags, the transition to using the new green technology wasn’t straight and it wasn’t easy.

“Because we’re the first out here, we’ve had issues. We’ve cooked the motor in it twice,” she said.

READ: Ucluelet Co-op receives B.C.’s first food waste converter (Aug. 12, 2018)

The support of the board and staff make staying optimistic and on top of the changes much simpler, Gehrke notes.

“We need to take care of where we live and a lot of the members feel the same way. Most of our members are surfers, hikers, and environmentalists who really love this area so you have to protect it,” she said.

Surfrider chapter manager Lilly Woodbury said they are thrilled about the Ucluelet Co-op’s nomination.

“Our relationship with the Ucluelet Co-op has been instrumental to our efforts since they led the way in eliminating plastic straws and bags, and through these actions, they demonstrated this change was achievable to this region’s business community. The Ucluelet Co-op continues to green their practices, from water conservation to composting and diverting waste from landfill. Through their dedication to sustainability, we know that the Ucluelet Co-op is a key partner in creating a single-use plastic free Ocean Friendly Corridor by 2022,” said Woodbury in an email to the Westerly.

VIDEO: Surfrider invites Tofino council candidates to cigarette butt cleanup (Sept. 24, 2018)

Also worth noting is the reclamation car wash at the Ucluelet Co-op gas bar.

“It re-uses the water,” said gas bar manager Michelle Martin, adding that the sustainable car wash was installed about six years ago.

“We just felt it was a good way to save. You’re not using the District’s water and that. We just try to help out how we can,” she said.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dan Law is Tofino’s new mayor. (Westerly file photo)
Dan Law elected mayor of Tofino

Cathy Thicke and Jacky Challenger earn council seats.

District of Tofino election official Jayson Towers and election deputy chief Cass Spence welcome Tofitians to the polls. (Nora O’Malley photo)
TOFINO BY-ELECTION 2021: General voting day is today

Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Tofino Community Hall

Nelly and Jens Heyduck hold samples of their Ahoy Bags made from discarded sails. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Ucluelet’s Ahoy Bags up for two Small Business BC Awards

German-Canadian wife and husband team transform old sails into one-of-a-kind beach bags

The Independent Investigations Office of BC is investigating the shooting of a Tla-o-qui-aht man by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht on Feb. 27. (Black Press Media file photo)
‘Police have killed more TFN members than COVID has,’ First Nation demands transparency in Tofino RCMP shooting investigation

Julian Jones, a 28 year-old Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation man was shot and killed by police on Feb. 27.

Blue Crush Concierge co-owners Ashley Wells and Erika Greenland, pictured here following COVID-19 social distancing alongside their dogs Hank and Lady Bird, are up for two SBBC awards. (Photo courtesy of Erika Greenland)
Three Tofino companies up for Small Business BC Awards

Tofino Kombucha, Blue Crush Concierge and Surf Sister all received nomination honours.

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead in ‘targeted incident’ in Metchosin

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read