Friday, March 6, 2009

Here's what we did with our pooled $100 Climate Action Dividends

January 28, 2009

Small Cheques Add Up to Big Impact: Victoria Residents Help Newcomer Families Invest in Climate Action

VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA – Less than 10 days ago, the world watched as President Obama delivered a history-making speech that infused hope to a people and planet in crisis. Obama made hope the focus his campaign and proved that any contribution, however small, can add up to a make big difference. That is exactly what a group of Victoria residents did with their $100 Climate Action Dividend cheques. They pooled their money to form The Great Rebate Eco-Challenge (GREC) and donated the funds to the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society’s Multicultural Environmental Education Program to help newcomers get a head start in climate action.

VIRCS’ Multicultural Environmental Education Program (MEEP) is an initiative that helps newcomers to make sustainable choices as they adapt to their new lives in Victoria. “Climate change affects everyone, so we want newcomers to understand their role in making a positive impact on the environment,”says Carlos Gaete, Executive Director of VIRCS. MEEP Program Coordinator Gagan Leekha is thrilled about the partnership with GREC. “Newcomers face many barriers such as challenges with language, employment, housing, transportation and community participation. Our program is unique in that it helps newcomers overcome these barriers with sustainability in mind.”

GREC raised nearly $2000 from individual and in-kind donations. The money went towards eco-friendly prizes that meet newcomers’ basic settlement needs and that also support their commitment to positive action. Seven families are the lucky recipients of a new bicycle (with helmet, lights and lock), free organic food delivery for six months, and healthy backyard, healthy home and healthy baby packages. Each prize comes with a free educational workshop from the program’s community partners, including The Good Planet Company, The Mothering Touch and the Greater Victoria Compost Education Centre.

“Our clients demonstrated a genuine need as well as a commitment to climate action,” says MEEP Communications Coordinator Rosalyn Cua, who emphasized the importance of individual actions. “GREC was a small group of individuals who set an example and inspired seven families, and these seven families can inspire even more people. At this stage we can no longer simply rely on government or policies for change. Each individual action, however small, counts. We think it’s important to recognize and remove barriers to action – and, like President Obama, spread the message of hope and responsibility for our planet.”

The prizes will be award at a special community event on January 29, 2009 from 4:00 – 6:00 pm at the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society. The Centre is located on the Third Floor of 637 Bay Street (on Government Street).

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For more information:


About the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society (VIRCS)

VIRCS is a non-profit organization founded in Victoria, BC, Canada, in 1989 by three former refugees. Our mission is to assist in the settlement and adjustment of immigrants and refugees in Canada and to provide services designed to increase the newcomer's participation in Canadian society by assisting the newcomer to overcome barriers.

Our multicultural staff served 3,000 immigrants, refugees, new Canadian citizens, and visible minorities from all over the world in 2008. We provide our clients with Employment Counseling, Settlement Services, English Language Training, Youth Groups, Volunteer Opportunities and Environmental Education to help them integrate into life in Canada.

For more information visit:

About the Multicultural Environmental Education Program (MEEP)

The goal of MEEP is to engage the multicultural community and to inspire environmental action through the sharing of ideas and resources. We envision our multicultural family at VIRCS to be informed about sustainable choices here in Canada and to take collective action that supports a healthy environment for future generations.

The Multicultural Environmental Education Program is generously funded by Environment Canada's EcoAction Community Funding Program, Vancouver Foundation, Victoria Foundation, Catherine Donnelly Foundation and the City of Victoria.

For more information visit:

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Great Rebate Eco-Challenge: What are you going to do with your $100 Climate Action Dividend this June?

In June 2008 BC’s Provincial Government will be mailing all BC Residents a $100 Climate Action Dividend and are hoping that citizens will invest that money in reducing their personal carbon usage. Polls say that most British Columbians will spend their $100 on beer or gas, but we see way more potential in that hundred bucks.

We are a small group of friends from Victoria that are pooling our $100 to see what we can create. This idea was inspired by a Sierra House Cooling Party, a project of the Sierra Club of BC.

Here is our plan:

1) We will pool our money and invite our friends and family to contribute their cheques to our Climate Action Fund
2) All the money collected will be put towards our Random Acts of Rebates Campaign. Here is a breakdown of the kinds of things we want to do:

Random Acts of Rebates Coming to a Neighborhood near us!

(The following random acts of rebates will be done by us for families that are ready and willing to reduce their carbon footprint, but that may not have the resources to do so)

Amount of $$ Raised:

Install clotheslines for 5 families, buy and distribute light bulbs, buy Gordon a vermicomposting bin
All of the above + car share co-op membership for one family
All of the above + compost pick up service for a school for one year
All of the above + electric bike, bicycle, large appliance, compost pick up service for a household
All of the above + organic food delivery for one year for 2 families in need
All of the above + a brand new hybrid car for a family in need

Our challenge to you: Amalgamate your rebates!

We want you to think creatively about how you are going to use your $100. Please don't spend it at the pumps or liquor store! If you have kids, they too will get a cheque – include them in the conversation and ask them how they would like to invest it. Get your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers on board. Pool your rebates, or invest it on your own. Some ideas of what you can do:

Transport yourself differently:

Take a look at how you eat:

  • Start a veggie garden in your backyard. This is a project you can do with just your family, or if you want, include your neighbors! In Victoria, check out Lifecycles for various programs and to find a space to garden if you don't have one.
  • Support a new young farmer – ask around or contact your local farmers market to find out who could use a little bonus.
  • Start composting! Contact The Greater Victoria Compost Education Centre for more info. Or sign up with a local compost pick up company. One that exists in Victoria for residential pick up is called Community Composting and they charge $240 per year.
  • If you live in a municipality that allows it, raise chickens in your backyard. Visit Backyard Chickens for tips and information.
  • Sign up for an organic food box delivery program. Visit Farm Folk City's Folk's webstie to find a service near you.
  • If you live in the Fraser Valley and want to find a farm near you visit Farm Fresh.

Make your home cooler:

  • Install a clothesline on your property ($30-$60 depending on length and quality).
  • Sign up for a Home Energy Audit with and EnerGuide Advisorto find out where you can save on energy and cost in your own home.
  • Upgrade one or more of your appliances that needs replacing with one that has a ENERGY STAR rating.
  • Replace ALL of your home light bulbs to ones that are more energy efficient
  • Install a rainwater harvest system on your home.
  • Check out the BC Sustainable Energy Association for ideas.

Spend time with loved ones:

Take your sweetie out on a Rebate Date! Here are some ideas:

  • Visit a restaurant that supports local food production.
  • Have a 100 mile picnic.
  • Turn off the lights, and have an energy free evening!

Share the wealth:
Join or make a donation to a local organization that has a climate change campaign. has a contest to find out how you will Green Your Campbell Cash. Check it out for ideas of projects that you can donate to.

Below are some other ideas, but also look for an organization in your community:

Calculate your Carbon Footprint:
Calculate your personal carbon emmissions using an easy online calculator, found here, before and after spending your rebate.


Or email us at

Most importantly – Have fun with whatever you do!

Include your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers – see what you are able to create together!