Local business owners in Medicine Hat have taken the initiative to incorporate sustainable practices into their business.
This makes it easier for residents and travelers to limit their carbon footprint while experiencing their own or another city. As more businesses adopt these practices daily, inspiration continuously flows from one local owner to another in finding ways to eliminate waste.
“Usually you’ll see eateries throw out multiple big garbage bags a day, but here we throw out a little garbage bag every three to four days,” says Carmen Lambert, owner of The Hat’s Olive Tap.
For five years the quality oil and balsamic vinegar taphouse with a full food menu has donated food scraps to a local chicken farm.
“I’ve always been passionate about recycling and reusing and feel it’s important for a community to have access to businesses who practice those,” says Lambert, who packages her oils, balsamics, and fresh-pressed juices in glass bottles. She also offers a bottle and paper bag program to ensure the items are reused and recycled.
A few desserts McBride’s Bakery is known for is fresh bread, sweet donuts, and glazed apple fritters, since 1967. Brendan and Carol Hillson purchased the business in 2011, and since then have donated bread to Medicine Hat Cares Society.
“Seeing the food waste in the general food industry can be shocking. There’s always leftovers. At the end of the night, I can walk the bread out to the back and throw it in the dumpster, or I can roll it to the front where a charity can feed those who need it,” says Brendan.
There are three breweries in Medicine Hat that all serve a unique experience and quality beer. Through the brewing process, Medicine Hat Brewing Company makes 400 to 700 kilograms of grain mash that fills a giant tote up to eight times a week. A local farmer picks up this grain mash weekly to feed his cows.
“Being able to find new uses for by-products makes sense; it helps everybody, and sharing this information allows for people to support local businesses that align with their values about sustainability,” says Vancuren, who’s brewery also has a water system that reuses excess water to keep the hot tanks warmer for a longer.
Medicine Hat’s first refillery opened in late 2021. Crystal Metz opened the doors to Roots Refillery, where Canadian-made hygiene and cleaning products are offered in bulk for people to refill their reusable containers.
“I’ve been in the situation where you’re trying to do better, but it’s so time consuming and frustrating that you give up. Being able to provide these options to our community is so important and our community is embracing it. They know they have the option and they’re using it,” says Metz.
Roots Refillery celebrated six months in business in May 2022 and by then saved 3,700 containers. The goal for their one year is 5,000.
The largest recreational facility in Medicine Hat, Big Marble Go Centre, has installed a cogeneration unit that captures engine heat, that would usually be dispersed into the air, and introduces it to the existing boiler system. It is then used to heat the facility. This feature is primarily being paid for as a grant by the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre.
“This makes a great amount of sense for a facility with a swimming pool like Big Marble Go Centre, because the pool water has to be at a certain temperature all year,” says Daniel Barbour, a project manager with City Operations at the City of Medicine Hat. “It’s important for municipalities to do projects like this from a consumer perspective, because it allows the municipality to lead, work out the issues that may arise, help local contractors gain experience, and then it makes it that much easier for the units to be installed at non-city facilities.”