Circular economy initiatives of Gabriola organizations receive funding


Two Gabriola nonprofits are among the recipients of the Nanaimo Regional District zero waste funding.

GIRO and Island Futures Society are two of five organizations that have been approved for the 2022 funding cycle aimed at innovative programs that develop a circular economy.

GIRO will receive $ 92,000 for Phase 2 of C2C Threads, its social enterprise textile salvage initiative. The funds will mainly be used to purchase a textile shredder, which can then be used to make plush products. The multi-faceted project focused on keeping the 52,000 pounds of textiles it collects out of landfills each year also received funding from RDN last year, which was in part used to purchase a washer and dryer for support the resale of clothing and the reuse of textiles.

So far, C2C Threads has partnered with locals to produce pet beds, floor cushions and a few products that replace single-use items: “paperless” towels, “everything” rags. and bowl covers, it’s all part of the store that the organizers invented Relove Local.

“We’ve had really good feedback from the locals – they really like the different products and use them for a variety of things we hadn’t even thought of,” said Michelle Kresnyak, CEO of GIRO. GIRO plans to diversify the product line in the future to accommodate the variability of given textiles.

RDN funding will also help further research and development on acoustic panels made from textiles collected by GIRO, led by BCIT researcher Maureen Connelly.

RDN support for this round is $ 26,000 less than requested. Kresnyak hopes GIRO will fill that gap through other means, including a federal grant they are waiting to hear about.

“We are organically making adjustments as this happens in real time and I think we manage to take the necessary steps to ensure that the next stage of the project can go as we planned. “Kresnyak said.

An unexpected experience so far has been the wait time for the authorization process with the RDN, said Fay Weller, GIRO board member. Part of the initiative is to construct a textile reuse building, or manufacturing space, on the GIRO property, which will include stations for product manufacturers as well as repairs.

GIRO planned to start construction in November, but was told it will have to wait 16 to 20 weeks from the time of submitting the permit application. “We’re all ready to build, just wait for their process,” Weller said.

The extension of the initiative to Nanaimo is also underway. Much of that depends on the outcome of the federal grant application, Weller said, but they are already in talks with Makerspace in Nanaimo and have a commitment from RDN to support building partnerships. The expansion would include transporting textiles to Gabriola for shredding.

Donations from the Gabriola community have been essential to the development of C2C, said Kresnyak and Weller. Gabriolans can also help by donating their pre-loved napkins which will be turned into already popular paperless napkins. Full details on support for the initiative as well as a link to the Relove Local store are available at

Island Futures Society received $ 2,500 to conduct research and market analysis for vegetable oil reuse on Gabriola. The company aims to divert all use of waste vegetable oil on Gabriola, 7,000 liters of restaurants per year, in order to reduce the use of fossil fuels.

Previously, this oil was turned into biodiesel and used to power GERTIE, said Weller, who is also on the Island Futures board of directors, but the new GERTIE bus cannot use the fuel. On top of that, the methanol used to make it skyrocket in price.

“Before, we were able to supply biodiesel to Gertie at a bit lower price,” Weller said. The company is interested in exploring uses that do not require the use of methanol.

“I think there is definitely a big opening for biofuels,” Weller said, but stressed that the research phase to determine viability is key.

In the first phase of the project, Island Futures will hire a researcher to analyze possible products such as biodiesel for heavy vehicles and generators, space heating for accessory buildings, hot water heating, animal feed. and compost.

“The idea is that this used vegetable oil is on Gabriola and let’s treat it as a resource and use it in some way on Gabriola that could be useful,” Weller said.

Island Futures hopes to hire a researcher in January.

Other organizations in the region that have received a portion of the $ 300,000 in available funding are Habitat for Humanity Mid-Vancouver Island, Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank, and Nanaimo Recycling Exchange.

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