In 2019 Brittanny Belanger realized that many of her friends and family had a serious lack of ‘eco-awareness,’ and she decided to do something about it. As a Certified Engineering Technologist working towards her Civil Engineering degree, Belanger launched Earthub (pronounced Earth-hub), hoping to change the way individuals in our society treat the environment.
Through initiatives like their ‘Items to Keep Out of the Landfill’ program, Earthub diverts waste and donates reusable items to charities or organizations that can give them a second life. Pill bottles, mascara wands, milk bags, and egg cartons are a few of the items Earthub collects and distributes to organizations that will use them secondhand.
Despite the long-standing push to ‘reduce, reuse and recycle,’ Belanger said that most recycling is essentially garbage, “due to the emissions, energy, time, labour and money that go into extracting minimal material to produce something new.” The ‘Items to Keep Out of the Landfill’ initiative stemmed from Belanger’s frustration of having prescription pill bottles that could not be recycled.
“I did research on where these #5 rigid plastic prescription pill bottles could go,” she shared with Kingstonist. “I found a disaster relief organization (Matthew 25: Ministries) that would accept these used prescription pill bottles (cleaned/sterilized) as medical supplies.”
There are over 50 drop-off locations for prescription bottles in Canada in two in the United States. These are volunteer run locations, with Ottawa being the Earthub base. Those interested in donating their clean, used items can find drop off locations on the ‘Items to Keep out of the Landfill’ webpage.
Earthub Kingston Chapter now up and running
The Earthub Kingston chapter is brand new, operated by Stephanie Young and Rebecca Hannaford, and has growing community support.
“I was absolutely thrilled when I connected with Stephanie and Rebecca,” Belanger shared. “They have been extremely helpful and have essentially taken over the Kingston area for Earthub. While I am located/based out of Ottawa, Kingston is my hometown, so it really touches me that my first ‘out of Ottawa’ Chapter started there!”
Rebecca Hannaford admitted she had been “turning a blind eye to what was really going on, on our planet.” After watching the documentary A Plastic Ocean, she realized that simply recycling isn’t really helping the environment.
“After seeing that documentary, I started reading more and doing more inquiring into the various local environmental projects. I did a major overhaul on my own home’s usage of products that were creating waste. I changed a lot of the products we were using as well as started making some of my own products that were eco-friendly, rather than buying the chemical products,” she said.
While making these changes, Young, a friend of hers, asked her to save her empty pill bottles as she was collecting them for Brittanny Belanger from Earthub.
“Earthub for me, started by collecting a few empty pill bottles and dropping them off at Steph’s house. I knew I wanted to help make a bigger difference on the planet, other than in my own home,” Hannaford continued. “From there, Steph, Brittanny and I chatted about the idea of starting the Kingston chapter and mimicking the success they have had in Ottawa. We started searching for end users for egg cartons, since that worked so well for Ottawa. We also started searching for groups making sleeping mats for the homeless from milk bags locally to donate milk bags too. We now have a small list of items we collect and end users that need the product.”
Stephanie Young also told Kingstonist what led her to join the organization. She shared that this past year helped her take stock of her wants versus her needs, which led to her joining sustainable living and eco conscious pages and sites. It was at one of those sites she learned about Earthub.
“I was really inspired by Brittanny’s work, so much that I wanted to know how I could help,” she said. “I started by collecting all my Mom’s pill bottles and then putting a call out to the neighbourhood Facebook page I started: The People of Henderson Place Neighbourhood Watch.”
She said the pill bottles started coming in from people in her neighbourhood, but she wanted to do more.
“I shared my excitement with Rebecca and before we knew it Earthub Kingston Chapter was up and running,” she continued. “While it’s still in its very early stages, I’m thrilled with our response from the community thus far, and people’s enthusiasm about the project only elevates the notion that small acts together can make a significant impact on our landfills. My only regret is that I didn’t tune in sooner…”
Learn more about Earthub on their website and follow them on Facebook. The Kingston Chapter has an open Facebook Group where they share what they are currently collecting, and spread awareness about sustainability, engineering, eco-friendly products, and more.