Zero Waste Festival encourages people to make changes at home and across the country

The Zero Waste Festival in Guelph on Saturday will include workshops, speakers and vendors who will help people reduce their waste. Keynote speaker Yannick Beaudoin from the David Suzuki Foundation says he hopes to empower people to realize what their efforts could mean for the country.

Zero Waste Festival coming to Guelph on Saturday

A new festival in Guelph will help people decrease the amount of waste they generate. The Zero Waste Festival goes Saturday. (Alexandra Burza/CBC)

Yannick Beaudoin plans to take people at Guelph's Zero Waste Festival on a journey to learn what led to the current "wasteful world order" that currently exists in our society.

Beaudoin is an alternative economist who currently serves as a director general for Ontario and northern Canada for the David Suzuki Foundation. He's the keynote speaker at the festival on Saturday.

He says he wants to work with the audience to talk about the history of wasteful societies and give them information to encourage people to dig into research and make themselves aware of how they can in turn make change.

"I hope they feel empowered," he said.

"Once they start to realize some of the basic pieces in our not so distant history that led to the wasteful society we have today then they start to realize, wait a minute, it's actually not that complicated to the system, to change the way of doing things, to change national purpose."

Stephanie Clarke is the sustainable initiatives co-ordinator at Guelph Tool Library and has organized the Zero Waste Festival set to go Saturday. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

People eager to learn

The Zero Waste Festival was created by the Guelph Tool Library after a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Stephanie Clarke is the sustainable initiatives co-ordinator at the tool library and she says they've seen an increase in interest from people who want to learn how to decrease their amount of waste.

"People are becoming really eager to learn about what they can do, not just in their home, but in the broader sense," she said. 

The festival will include vendors, workshops and a speakers' series including a panel discussion on how to reduce waste and Beaudoin's talk.

People do have to preregister for the workshops and speakers' series and can find information about that on the Guelph Tool Library website.

Change at individual and national levels

Yannick Beaudoin is the director general for Ontario and Northern Canada for the David Suzuki Foundation. (David Suzuki Foundation)
Beaudoin says it's encouraging to see people talking about how they can curb their own waste.

"The word waste is such a negative. Nobody really likes to have any waste, whether it's physical waste like food waste or plastic waste or even how we waste our money and waste our resources," he said.

"So just the fact that that word is out there, people react quite viscerally to it and then they like to find ways, OK, how do I move as an individual from lots of waste to less waste."

But Beaudoin has also worked at the United Nations and says he's watched how countries have changed their narratives when it comes to waste.

New Zealand, for example, has released a well-being budget and Beaudoin says that sort of document has profound implications for how a country looks at its economic performance and how waste plays into that.

"How are countries evolving away from deciding, well, enough is enough, consumption isn't the purpose of our country. The purpose of our country is something akin to wellbeing and how do we define that together," Beaudoin said.


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