How to spot greenwashing when booking a hotel

Size does matter – but not in the way you might expect

Busy urban areas are the most difficult to expand and improve on when it comes to sustainable accommodation. The disparity in wealth and, often, overtourism leads to well-established foreign-owned hotel chains being opened to meet the increasing demand. With a large numbers of rooms, comes the inevitable force of unregulated energy use and water use, massive buffets resulting in large amounts of food waste, single-use plastics circulating for convenience and all-inclusive options that stop expenditure reaching the surrounding communities. As a general tip, avoiding these types of accommodation – regardless of sustainability promises – is likely to be better for the community and environment.

Some smaller city-based hotel owners, however, are embracing the challenge to build energy-efficient stays that also benefit the surrounding community. The room2 collection, run by brothers Stuart and Robert Godwin, is just one such urban model that does this well. Each of the company’s four ‘hometels’ run on 100% solar, wind and hydro power – and enjoys a zero-waste-to-landfill policy, ensuring all non-recyclable products are transformed into something useful. 

At room2’s recently-opened Belfast branch, upcycled fishing nets have been used to make the carpet and unused soap bottles form an elegant reception desk. Meanwhile, room2 Hammersmith teams up with local charity, SPEAR, to provide 25,000 nights of accommodation and festive meals to people facing or experiencing homelessness. “Being a part of a community, we wanted to make sure that we work with local businesses and our guests know this,” explains room2 co-founder, Robert. “We are all a big family – this is what we want our visitors to feel when they book a room with us.”

room2 provides a detailed breakdown of its sustainability projects online, ensuring guests understand the positive impact

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Antrim and Newtownabbey Council hears ‘repairing a fence would be more favourable than floral artwork’ claim

Parkgate. Pic: Google Maps

Parkgate. Pic: Google Maps

In August, councillors approved the creation of five art installations in each of the seven district electoral areas (DEAs) to develop a “Botanical Borough” theme.

The proposal was initially agreed in October 2021 as part of “a means to animate towns and villages”. It is proposed to deliver 35 pieces of public art by October 2024 with one “large scale signature artwork created in each DEA based upon the area’s chosen botanical emblem” as well as smaller pieces.

The districts’ botanical emblems are: Airport, rose; Antrim, bluebell; Ballyclare, flax flower; Dunsilly. flax flower; Glengormley, forget-me-not; Macedon, cherry blossom; Threemilewater, flax flower.

The concept of an “award-winning Botanical Borough” was the brainchild of celebrity garden designer Diarmuid Gavin to boost recovery from the Covid pandemic.

A report to the Community Planning Committee said the first phase of work was due to be completed by the end of October to deliver one large scale and one smaller installation.

“The time frame for delivery of the initial 14 installations was extremely challenging given that it included identification of locations, discussion with building owners to gain approval, selection of artists and development of designs, which being location specific could only progress once locations were secured,” councillors were told.

Dunsilly Ulster Unionist Councillor Stewart Wilson said feedback from residents and community groups in Parkgate was “not favourable”. Cllr Wilson suggested repairing a fence at the entrance to the village would “provide a more favourable reaction from residents”.

Innovative Solution

Simon Goldrick, head of arts, culture, tourism and events, replied approval was for public street art and any change would have to be approved by the council although he said that he would be happy to work with the DEA to see if there is a “more innovative solution”.

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Planting new seeds with community gardens

When I was growing up, my family was considered “granola” — hippie-adjacent, eco-conscious and nature loving. As a classic 2000s granola family, my siblings and I were homeschooled, we frequented farmers markets, grew up on PBS Kids and, of course, ate all organic. But my parents took “organic” to the next level: our yard became home to sprawling fruit trees, plots for tomatoes, unruly bushes of lavender and potted herbs. One of the childhood memories my family loves to tease me about is how I used to routinely crawl out to the garden and eat unripe green tomatoes straight off the vine.

In suburban and rural areas, growing your own food is as easy as planting and tending to seeds in your backyard. In dense cities, however, grocery stores are essentially the only source of fresh produce. In produce aisles, fruits and vegetables can be found neatly organized, packaged and ready for purchase, far from the soil and branches they came from. Because of this, many of us are distanced from where our food really comes from, both literally and figuratively. 

Additionally, in cities that are considered “food deserts” — urban areas with a shortage of affordable and high-quality food — many residents have to travel several miles to reach the nearest grocery store. In the Bay Area, at least 889 neighborhoods are considered “low food access,” with 600 of those neighborhoods found in the San Francisco metropolitan area. 

As a way of fighting against food insecurity, limited accessibility and rising grocery store prices, community gardening is becoming an increasingly popular alternative. In fact, the number of Americans growing food in community gardens rose by 200% between 2008 and 2016. There are, undeniably, so many benefits to starting a garden, environmentally and beyond. 

Environmentally, community and personal

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Thieves raid community garden on The Bluff

DESPITE being raided by thieves who steal crops while the area isn’t being watched, the Bluff Community Garden, situated at the rear of the Bluff showgrounds in Tara Road, still has a few vegetables left.

Volunteers who created the garden called on the community to assist by acting as a watchdog for the garden earlier this year, and have, once again, fallen victim to crime.

Also read: School’s vegetable garden benefits community

The garden benefits hundreds of people via feeding projects, and the crops, which include cabbage, carrots, spinach, chillies, peppers, lettuce, pumpkin and butternut, spring onions, Chinese cabbage and Nigerian spinach, have been raided by thieves.

The large JoJo tanks placed in the garden were also stolen.

Volunteer farmers, who founded and tend to the garden, appeal for sponsors to erect a fence around the garden to prevent thieves from gaining access to the lush, organic vegetables.

Liziwe Mkhulisi, who is one of the volunteer gardeners, said the once flourishing garden was for the whole community as no individual owns it, and it belongs to the community.

“The gardens remain exposed to theft of all the hard work by our volunteers, which now seems fruitless. We are responsible for clearing the bush, toiling and nourishing the soil and growing a variety of crops which sustain various feeding projects in and around the community.

“We appeal to residents to stop stealing and rather than being thieves, ask for or offer to buy the vegetables.

“Our main appeal is for a sponsor to donate a fence so the area can be safeguarded. We also invite residents to join in planting and maintaining the area so that they, too, can benefit from the vast space that is available surrounding the existing garden.

Also read: Gardening keeps great-grandmother flourishing

“Volunteers are welcome

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Grace Sparkes House Highlights Challenges with Community-Based Housing

The Executive Director of Grace Sparkes House in Marystown says community-based housing is a great concept, but governments need to listen to those on the ground in the community to make it work.

Lisa Slaney says they currently have six units that are occupied, but they could have 10 more buildings and still be looking for more spaces.

She told VOCM Open Line with Paddy Daly that in the 32 years she’s been working in the community sector, things have gotten far worse.

Slaney says there are a variety of reasons why some people are hard to house, whether it be due to addictions, a history of not paying rent or damages caused in the past.

Slaney says they’re doing their best to provide help to those who need a place to stay whether they’re escaping abuse, just out of jail or struggling with mental health or addictions. She says community housing won’t work if the powers that be don’t provide the supports needed.

Slaney says they have a woman who has not paid her rent since December, “but we’re not making her homeless.” That said, she wants to know where they’re getting the money to pay their $8,000 a month in rent, or the property taxes on the units, or the water and sewer services. “We don’t have the resources to do communitybased housing, not-for-profit housing, unless people start listening to what the issues are.”

She believes there should be a separate department in government that deals solely with housing, to take some of the pressure off of NL Housing.

Minister of Children, Seniors and Social Development and the minister responsible for NL Housing says government is committed to creating housing solutions across the province.

Paul Pike addressed questions around some of the hundreds of

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B.C. wildfires: Homes destroyed by blaze near Cranbrook

Homes and other buildings in a B.C. First Nation were destroyed by a wildfire that broke out Monday, according to provincial officials.

The St. Mary’s River fire triggered a tactical evacuation in the ʔaq̓am Community, also known as St. Mary’s Indian Band, which is located near Cranbrook. Since it sparked Monday afternoon, the blaze has grown to 800 hectares and remains out of control. The suspected cause is downed power lines, according to the BC Wildfire Service.

Emergency Preparedness Minister Bowinn Ma confirmed Tuesday that, for the first time in what has been a devastating and record-breaking season, people’s homes have been destroyed and other structures have been lost.

“This is a tragic situation. And I am thinking of the people the ʔaq̓am First Nation. I want to assure everyone that my ministry is working around the clock to support people and communities facing evacuations,” she said, but did not provide details of how many buildings were impacted.

In a statement issued Monday, the ʔaq̓am Community said a total of 52 homes were evacuated and that an emergency operations centre has been set up to support those impacted.

“We ask the public and the community to refrain from visiting the area so that we can ensure we can focus on supporting the community,” it read.

The Regional District of East Kootenay placed 43 properties on evacuation alert Tuesday but no orders have been issued.

The fire also resulted in the cancellation of flights into and out of the Canadian Rockies International Airport in Cranbrook Monday afternoon and evening. The airport reopened just after 8 p.m.

The BCWS is mounting a “full response” to the blaze, something it explains is used when “there is threat to public safety and/or property and other

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Scarborough’s 5n2 has fought food insecurity with dignity for 10 years | Opinion

Drive past your neighbourhood food bank and you’ll find a scene that is all too familiar: a long line of people begins from the front of the door and pours onto the street.

Rain, wind or snow, these individuals wait for hours without guarantee that they will get the support they need. Meanwhile, their hardship is visible to neighbours and passersby.

It is a situation that speaks volumes about the shortcomings of traditional food banks and the reality of food insecurity in our society today. 

Rather than having individuals endure the shame of standing in line, which frequently discourages people from seeking assistance, we collaborate with other organizations to deliver nutritious meals and essential pantry items directly to the doorsteps of those in need.

Our empathetic approach eliminates the stigma associated with using traditional food banks and ensures accessibility for individuals who face mobility difficulties, mental health struggles and other challenges. 

What truly sets 5n2 apart, however, is our unwavering commitment to listening to clients. We understand that each person has unique dietary needs and restrictions and cater to these requirements, providing meals that nourish the body and the spirit.

5n2 was founded in 2013. After witnessing the alarming levels of homelessness on Toronto’s streets, I became determined to influence change in our community.

Initially operating as a soup kitchen, 5n2 began by serving 150 soups three days a week, from a local church’s kitchen to meet the rising demand for food assistance. 

In November 2020, when requests for a lease extension were denied, the organization refused to shut down operations. Fortunately, with the support of Councillor Paul Ainslie, the city provided the means to subsidize the new facility and fund renovations, acknowledging that 5N2 had become an essential service in the community

Looking to the future, we

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