In this article, I have put what I would have liked to have known the first time I came to Vancouver, BC: practical information, ecological shops and useful links to visit without polluting.
A car is not necessary to visit Vancouver. You can go everywhere by public transit (bus, skytrain and seabus). Only if you are off-center, it can take time.
Bus schedules are available in public libraries and you can plan your itineraries using Google maps or Vancouver’s public transit website, Translink.
Cycling is another means of transport in Vancouver. There are several bike and skate rentals on Denman Street and elsewhere in the city. Their addresses are in the Canadian yellow pages.
Just remember that helmets are mandatory in Vancouver.
The city of Vancouver has published a map of the bicycle routes (downloadable in pdf format).
If you are in Vancouver on the last Friday of the month, you can join the critical mass, a monthly demonstration of cyclists to reclaim the streets.
In Vancouver, you can travel by bus or by bike or by both at the same time.
photo Stephen Rees (c) Creative Commons
You can find quite a bit of organic products, in supermarkets and in healthy food stores. I have made a list of health food stores in Vancouver on this blog. Organic products are labeled ‘certified organic’ with the name of the certification body. You need to be watchful because they are often mixed with some products that are more or less natural.
Earthsave association publishes a vegetarian directory that lists among others vegetarian-friendly restaurants.
You can find local products in Granville Market that is Vancouver’s market. In the summer, some local producers sell their products in several farmers markets.
Organic stall in Granville Market
MEC (130 West Broadway) is a outdoor and sport equipment store. It’s a retail co-operative so when you buy something there for the first time, you will be asked a few dollars to become a member. MEC has a sustainable development policy and donates 1% of its annual gross sales to environmental causes.
The shops of 10 000 villages association sell fair trade handicrafts.
There’s quite a lot of thrift stores in Vancouver. Just if you buy second-hand clothes, I advise you to wash them at high temperatures to avoid to bringing bedbugs home. There are garage sales too.
The city of Vancouver provides recycling collection service.
Electronic store like FutureShop, BestBuy or London Drugs collect batteries and electroning waste. Recycling Council of British Columbia tells where to recycle some other materials.
When you buy a bottle or a can in a shop, you pay a recycling fee and a deposit (between 5 and 20 cents). You receive a full deposit refund if you return the empty container to the shop.
A few things to do
Vancouver is a good destination if you like outdoor activities. From renting a canoe in Deep Cove to snowshoeing or hiking, there are many options. You can find descriptions of some Vancouver hiking trails on Vancouver trails.
Some hikes require the use of a car but others are accessible by public transit. It’s worth walking because there are magnificent landscapes to discover in British Columbia.
Vancouver has a number of nice parks and gardens. Walking or cycling around the seawall of Stanley Park, which is the city’s most famous park, is a must-do when you visit Vancouver. The inside of the park is also interesting and includes a Nature House that organises ecological activities and the prospect of seeing raccoons or beavers.
Queen Elizabeth Park has nice flowery gardens where recent graduates and newlyweds have their photograph taken.
Like Stanley Park, Pacific Spirit Park runs alongside the sea but in a wilder environment. This is also the location of Vancouver’s nude beach.
On the city of Vancouver website, you can see a map of Community Gardens. I went for a Community Gardens discovery walk in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood and besides admiring the gardens, we were lucky to meet gardeners who were happy to discuss their small patch of land.
A community garden in Vancouver
Those are my best green tips for visiting Vancouver. Feel free to share yours in the comments section to complete this guide.