From The Georgia Straight:

Hunter Moyes arrives at Harvest Community Foods (243 Union Street) laden with tiffins—round, stainless-steel food containers—that the grocery store/café will be selling as part of the Tiffin Project. The initiative is Moyes’s recently launched eco-baby, a bid to eliminate disposable restaurant takeout containers and to support local agriculture.

Moyes sits at one of the café’s outdoor tables and chats with earnest sincerity about how the project came about. As a chef, he was appalled at the number of disposable containers used for takeout and leftovers. He had his own tiffin that he was using as an alternative when he carried out, but wanted to find a way to spread the gospel to other consumers.

The concept is simple: consumers buy tiffins from participating restaurants or from thetiffinproject.com/ and then get discounts on their food when they put the tiffins to use. The containers are $26, with $4 of that amount helping restaurants buy from local farms. Moyes will work with restaurants on an ingredient-by-ingredient basis, getting them to switch to a local producer by subsidizing the cost difference.

“Localizing food and agriculture is very in line with our values,” says Sarah Wagstaff, operations manager of the Noodle Box (1867 West 4th Avenue and 839 Homer Street), during a phone chat. The restaurant chain received an email from Moyes about nine months ago and immediately responded because they had been doing their own research for a similar concept. As well, since customers were already informally bringing in reusable containers, becoming tiffin-friendly just made sense.

“We go through 750,000 noodle boxes a year. That’s a huge amount,” says Wagstaff. While their containers are compostable, Wagstaff is eager to reduce this number by providing customers with an incentive to switch to the tiffins. They’ll get $2 off their first food bill with the purchase of a tiffin, and $1 thereafter.

Other establishments that have said yes include Nuba, the Waldorf Hotel, Edible Canada, Fable, the Stock Market, and Tacofino, and more are on the way. Moyes does concede that some restaurants may be hesitant about joining because, ultimately, liability rests with them when it comes to consumers bringing in outside containers. The Noodle Box runs the tiffins through its dishwasher before filling them up as an extra precaution.

Check out the rest of the article here.

Personal note: I’ve been taking glass and rubber lidded containers along with me when picking up take out from restaurants in my neighbourhood for several years now. Usually, the restaurants are cool with it, especially if I mention it over the phone when ordering. They’re saving money on packaging after all! But this project takes it to a whole new level. Really hope it succeeds!

Related:

(Infographic source: The Tiffin Project)

I recently stumbled upon this article from Postmedia’s award-winning national science writer, Margaret Munro. It was written in advance of June’s Rio+20 summit, which was widely viewed to have achieved limited results. That said, the article offers a good summary of some of the big systemic changes that we’re likely going to have to pull off on the long road to building a sustainable and resilient future. In other words, it’s going to take a whole lot more than riding a bike, recycling, and using cloth shopping bags.

The article has a bit of a Canadian focus, but the steps are universal:

1. Start a revolution

2. Energy game change

3. Put a price on carbon

4. Overhaul corporate motives and mindsets

5. Green Canada’s blackened record 

6. Transform cities

7. Connect the dots before you buy

8. Eat less meat

9. Embrace education (and contraception)

10. Get politically active

You can read the rest of the article and an explanation of each of the steps here, but I’ll post the first one here as an example:

“For most of the last century, economic growth was fuelled by what seemed to be a certain truth: the abundance of natural resources. We mined our way to growth. We burned our way to prosperity. We believed in consumption without consequences,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last year. He went on to describe it as a “recipe for national disaster. It is a global suicide pact.”

“We need a revolution,” he said. “Revolutionary thinking. Revolutionary action. A free-market revolution for global sustainability”.

Related:

From the Independent:

Sainsbury’s and Unilever have backed a major new report published today which predicts that sustainable products and services will be mainstream by 2020. The report – produced by non-profit organisation Forum for the Future – says household brands and retailers will make green living normal by the end of the decade for the sake of their profits.

Dr Sally Uren, the deputy chief executive of Forum for the Future, said: “Smart brands and businesses will make money today by accelerating the transition to a sustainable future.” She said progress towards sustainable consumption will not be knocked off course by the weak global economy.

The organisation considered four scenarios to explore how global trends may change the world. In each, social and environmental pressures drive sustainable goods and services into the mainstream, whether or not consumers actively demand them and regardless of whether the global economy is thriving or subdued. Sainsbury’s chief executive, Justin King, said: “Sustainability will rise higher up the agenda over the coming years. Being sustainable is not about box ticking, it’s about future-proofing your business.”

Amanda Sourry, chairman of Unilever UK & Ireland, said: "The old model of ever greater consumption, with growth at any price, is broken. Companies that succeed in the future will be those that reduce their environmental impact while increasing their social and economic impacts."

(Image credit: Forum for the Future)

We’re Drawing Down Our Account: Responses So Far to our Natural Capital Challenge
The picture above is a screen grab from Scientific American’s new interactive, media rich presentation, How Much Is Left?, described as:

A graphical accounting of the limits to what one planet can provide

The thing to keep in mind of course is that it’s our planet or rather the planet we share with future generations and our non-human partners on Earth. Depressing stuff but also the reality we have to deal with. So rather than dwell on the negatives I thought I’d profile some of the efforts afoot to address this ultimate of challenges and advance global sustainability:
 The Biosphere Economy initiative seeks to build a “a future where business-as-usual and politics-as-usual increasingly take  account of natural capital and related forms of value, bridging the gap  between man-made assets and nature’s ecological infrastructures that  underpin our economies and societies.” Worldchanging profiles the initiative in the article The Emergence of a Biosphere Economy. 
The latest report on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) is due shortly. TEEB is a “major international initiative to draw attention to the global economic  benefits of biodiversity, to highlight the growing costs of biodiversity  loss and ecosystem degradation, and to draw together expertise from the  fields of science, economics and policy to enable practical actions  moving forward.” The Guardian article Economic report into biodiversity crisis reveals price of consuming the planet profiled the initiative in the spring.  
World Wildlife Fund is campaigning to convince 100 key companies to go sustainable based on thinking that if they do “global  markets will shift to protect the planet our consumption has already  outgrown.” There is a great TED lecture Jason Clay: How big brands can help save biodiversity explaining the initiative.
2010 is the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity. Their website shows a raft of initiatives.
The Rio +20 Conference, known officially as the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, is coming up. At a workshop in May a group of "seasoned experts" produced a statement explaining their ideas on the way forward. 

We’re Drawing Down Our Account: Responses So Far to our Natural Capital Challenge

The picture above is a screen grab from Scientific American’s new interactive, media rich presentation, How Much Is Left?, described as:

A graphical accounting of the limits to what one planet can provide

The thing to keep in mind of course is that it’s our planet or rather the planet we share with future generations and our non-human partners on Earth. Depressing stuff but also the reality we have to deal with. So rather than dwell on the negatives I thought I’d profile some of the efforts afoot to address this ultimate of challenges and advance global sustainability:

  1. The Biosphere Economy initiative seeks to build a “a future where business-as-usual and politics-as-usual increasingly take account of natural capital and related forms of value, bridging the gap between man-made assets and nature’s ecological infrastructures that underpin our economies and societies.” Worldchanging profiles the initiative in the article The Emergence of a Biosphere Economy.
  2. The latest report on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) is due shortly. TEEB is a “major international initiative to draw attention to the global economic benefits of biodiversity, to highlight the growing costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, and to draw together expertise from the fields of science, economics and policy to enable practical actions moving forward.” The Guardian article Economic report into biodiversity crisis reveals price of consuming the planet profiled the initiative in the spring.  
  3. World Wildlife Fund is campaigning to convince 100 key companies to go sustainable based on thinking that if they do “global markets will shift to protect the planet our consumption has already outgrown.” There is a great TED lecture Jason Clay: How big brands can help save biodiversity explaining the initiative.
  4. 2010 is the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity. Their website shows a raft of initiatives.
  5. The Rio +20 Conference, known officially as the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, is coming up. At a workshop in May a group of "seasoned experts" produced a statement explaining their ideas on the way forward.