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Credit: Ian McSorley

The words “shop local” have been given added meaning thanks to the Commercial Drive Business Society’s initiative to recycle “retired” nylon street banners by turning them in to sturdy shopping bags and selling them in local stores. The stylish shopping bags, manufactured by Commercial Drive retailer Dream Designs, are available in two sizes and 10 colours. Shoppers can show their community pride and support the environment while toting a one-of-a-kind bag.

“This green initiative even goes one step further,” says Ian McSorley, marketing chair for Commercial Drive. “Proceeds from the sale of these shopping bags will be donated to the development of new green spaces in the neighbourhood. Working with Vancouver park board and neighbourhood volunteers, funds will be used to develop additional public green spaces.”

The impact of taking two years’ worth of old banners (about 500 banners) and recycling the material rather than using new nylon is significant. By “upcycling” the banners, the society estimates its neighbourhood has kept approximately 128 kilograms of nylon out of the landfill, saved enough energy to power an average Vancouver home for more than 10 months, freed up 543 trees to capture and store CO2 from other sources for a full year, and saved 3.2 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

The clever banner-to-bag conversion has caught on, says McSorley, noting that other
communities in North America are eager to emulate the idea. Soon the nylon banners might be put to another smart use. McSorely says the Commercial Drive Business Society is testing a sample batch of umbrellas made from the old banners.