An Open Letter to Granville Island RE: Sustainability

Reposted with permission from my partner’s blog. On a recent visit, we noticed that the market at Granville Island (in Vancouver, BC) still serves food on styrofoam plates, so we’d like to see them receive many letters asking them to fix this. Please adapt to suit your circumstances and send your own letter to info@granvilleisland.com.

Granville Island is one of Vancouver’s star attractions: food, art, entertainment, all in a relatively compact place near the downtown core. I occasionally enjoy taking the ferry across False Creek to visit, walk around, browse at the galleries, or get something to eat. It is one of my favourite places in the city to take guests, who generally remark on how lovely and quaint and enjoyable the Island is and how memorable their experiences there are.
This is why it is so disappointing to find that Granville Island does not live up to its potential as a model of sustainability, or even that environmental concerns are afforded any thought. It dismays me that the food markets and public areas produce so much garbage that will simply end up in trash cans—or worse, in False Creek, where it will be swept away into the ocean. There need to be better systems in place to reduce the amount of trash produced on Granville Island and to better handle the trash that does get produced. One of the best ways to do this would be to have vendors provide eco-friendly alternatives to unsustainable plastic and styrofoam packaging, such as drink cups and cutlery made from biodegradable or compostable products. In addition, Granville Island should make more effort to encourage its visitors to reduce their own consumption and recycle what they do use that is recyclable. Such environmentally friendly measures are now affordable and in widespread use elsewhere, and I am saddened that Granville Island has not adopted them.
I note with dismay that the Island Insight sustainability study, which released its Environmental Sustainability Assessment & Strategy final report nearly three years ago in October 2007, highlighted “reducing material waste and hazardous waste generation” as being at or near the top of the list of sustainability priorities for all respondents. Additionally, large majorities of both Metro Vancouver residents and Granville Island tenants held that Granville Island should be a leader in sustainability and pursue sustainable initiatives when available and affordable. In the three years following this survey, I do not see much evidence of such initiatives having been undertaken.
As a resident of Vancouver and not infrequent visitor to Granville Island, I am very disappointed to see so little action towards sustainability forthcoming from Granville Island. Vancouver has a reputation as an environmentally friendly place, but is this truly deserved? It is my sincere hope that you will recognize the importance of this issue and begin to implement changes that will positively impact not only the Island itself, but the False Creek area and Metro Vancouver as a whole, and that Granville Island will be seen as a model for sustainability.
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