By Alison Taylor
Every hour 2.5 million water bottles are thrown away in the
United States — a statistic that isn’t lost on Whistler council.
As they sealed a deal with a company dedicated to social and
environmental responsibility for their new logo line last week, every
councillor, save Gord McKeever, had a plastic water bottle at hand. Open water
jugs are not permitted in council chambers at Millennium Place, which is why
McKeever carries his own reusable bottle.
And so, even as Fairware’s Denise Taschereau called council’s
efforts “leading edge” in their commitment to sustainability, she couldn’t
resist sharing the pointed statistic about discarded water bottles in the U.S.
“It’s sometimes those little things that we forget about in
terms of changing behaviour,” she said in the wake of council’s decision to use
Fairware for its product line.
“We always try to educate with our products.”
Reusable water bottles could be one of the new products offered
in the True Local Whistler logo wear line. Taschereau hopes to include facts in
the bottle or on a hangtag to educate customers. The hope is the message will
resonate enough with them to change their behaviour.
It could also be a place to toot Whistler’s own horn as it
moves down the path on its sustainability journey.
“Even the fact that your council asked your municipal
administration to ensure there’s sustainable product… is totally leading edge,”
said Taschereau. “We certainly don’t get a lot of that in other situations I’ve
The Whistler logo products will begin rolling out this fall.
At council’s insistence two months ago, municipal staff
explored a partnership to offer sustainable products in the logo wear mix.
Fairware is based in Vancouver and looks for suppliers that
promote ethical sourcing.
John Rae, the municipality’s manager of strategic alliances,
said a realistic goal is to have 10 per cent sustainable products in the first
year of business, moving to 25 per cent the following year and 50 per cent
after three years.
Going 100 per cent sustainable right off the bat won’t give
them the credibility with retailers. The world, it seems, is still not ready
for these products.
“Let’s get in on the journey,” encouraged Rae.
Taschereau explained to council that there are not a lot of
sustainable products in the supply chain. There are still issues around quality
and there is also a premium on some products.
But that shouldn’t deter them.
In addition to water bottles, other products under development
for the Whistler logo wear are: 100 per cent organic cotton T-shirts, 100 per
cent recycled polyester fleece jackets and a 100 per cent recycled plastic
There are, said Taschereau, no shortage of ideas.
In addition to apparel the licensing program is expected to
include greeting cards, food products, pins, mugs, key chains and specialty
Council has entered into a two-year contract with Fairware and
Councillors were pleased about the progress.
McKeever said: “It feels more like a Whistler project now.”
The logo line is expected to generate $150,000 in revenues in the first year. That money will go to the long talked about Whistler Centre for Sustainability, an organization which does not yet exist but is expected to be a community resource in the years to come.