It’s Not Easy Being Green

Cannabis sustainability has a long, winding road ahead before perceptible change occurs and progress slowly begins. As a society, we are obsessed with “green,” regardless of your definition: money, cannabis, recycling, or our politics. “Green is the new black,” as the colloquial adage goes, and a black stain is exactly what the Cannabis industry is currently leaving in its massive wake. The need for renewability, recyclability, and regulation is desperately required in all aspects of the cannabis production and process, from cultivation to end user.

There are comparable examples in the business and societal spheres, however, such as in the booming boutique industry. Consumers demand cleaner, greener operations and solutions at the corporate level and some companies deliver.

For example, D’Loraine Miranda announced proud news on February 4, 2020:

Bare Market, Toronto’s Package-Free Shop, is Finally Open and here’s what you need to know about the incredible new space.”

What is “Bare Market, you may ask?

“Back in 2012, Dayna Stein noticed a gap in the Toronto market for some of the most in-demand items as of late: package-free goods. “It was impossible to find all the things I would need in a day without the excess packaging,” she says. Fast forward eight years later and Stein has finally found a permanent home for Bare Market — her package-free shop offering everything from beauty products to household cleaners in bulk — which is now open to the public.

Prior to securing the east end locale, Stein had been operating Bare Market — which officially launched in 2018 — via pop-up shops around Toronto. The events proved to be incredibly successful, which should come as no surprise, given the increase in environmental awareness and a push towards reducing our waste in any way possible. As a result of these 65 pop-ups, Bare Market was able to help reroute more than 7,300 containers from ending up in landfills.

While this may seem like a minuscule number compared to the reported 120 billion units of packaging the cosmetics industry churns out per year, it’s a step in the right direction. In fact, the number of beauty brands opting for more sustainable packaging options (read: recyclable; refillable) appears to be on the rise.

Setting foot into Bare Market’s new 2,800 sq. ft. home is like walking into an airy, Goop-inspired version of Bulk Barn. The space is outfitted with sleek display tables and wood shelving stocked with body care products, household cleaners and dry foods (everything from tri-colour quinoa to potato chips), all in bulk.

However, unlike anything and everything Goop:

Miranda explains that their company “uses waste as a lever to start a dialogue around larger and more complex environmental and social issues…that means encouraging shoppers to bring in any container they have on hand, as long as it’s clean, dry and not chipped. Meaning, yes, there’s absolutely no shame in bringing that old yogurt container you dug out of your stash or an old Ziplock freezer bag. The shop also stocks an assortment of branded reusable bags and containers, should you wish to purchase your own or borrow one for a small deposit.”

In keeping with the no-waste ethos, their cafe does not offer disposable cups —  for a pleasant change!

“You either bring your own cup, or you can borrow a travel mug for a $5 deposit, part of the Reego reusable cup program offered in select Toronto cafes. She plans on also using the shop to host workshops, events and panels in order to further the discussion around sustainability and zero-waste.

Dayna Stein closes with a powerful statement: Our business is truly about community building and taking collective action.”

Then there’s the bursting cannabis industry, filled with all its technology and compliance –yet void of any measurable reduction in the collective carbon footprint. I’ve talked in my previous series about the lack of recycling for collection for unused product and used packaging in the cannabis sphere. This must change sooner rather than later if we are to truly “succeed” in this industry by drastically reducing our joint cannabis carbon footprint in a modern society sharply focused on all things green, no pun intended.

For now, take comfort in the fact that at least CARTS FOR THE ARTS is taking action and collecting vape cartridges and making beautiful art out of them, as seen in the article below:


Like coffee pods, disposable water bottles and plastic straws, vape-related waste is attracting attention. It is not surprising given vaping’s surging popularity, but no one wants to see industry growth hindered or environmental responsibility unfulfilled. We would like to think that the industry is caring, environmentally conscious. But are they? From patron to manufacturer, to dispensary what can they do?

Recycling vape cartridges, batteries and disposables isn’t as easy as it could be. Carts for the Arts seeks to raise awareness to the fact that we need better legislation and better awareness to help the industry as a whole become more sustainable.

The ‘Carts for the Arts’ exhibit premiered at the UpcyclePop Holiday market event on December 15th 2019, which is a holiday event and market for upcycled and repurposed items that hosts live performances, interactive art , creative stations for kids and an art gallery exhibit or two.

Carts for the Arts exhibited in the large Gallery Suite along with an expert  panel disscussion on the topic of the tsunami of waste consistantly growing from single-use cartridges, batteries, and packaging currently produced in the cannabis industry.  Carts for the Arts seeks to create awareness through art exhibits and panel disscussions while driving stakeholders to convene and work together. Legeslation must change to enable closing the loop with a zero waste mindset, manufactures must start considering how they can begin to redesign their products and brands must find a better way to introduce their product other than disposables.  and begin research and development with manufacturers to redesign with reuse and and zero waste in mind. 

This is a new and rapidly growing industry, if we all put ourminds together now, then maybe, just maybe the cannabis industry could come ahead and be the designated leader in sustainabilty for other industries to follow.




Up Kindness is calling attention to the challenges surrounding vape cartridge recycling with an upcycled art exhibit, and brainstorming solutions through panel discussions. Cannabis Business Times – December 19, 2019 

Disposable vapes and cartridges reach new highs every day, and with them an enormous amount of post-consumer waste. According to BDS Analytics, vape cartridges are the fastest-growing sector of California’s $2.5 billion cannabis industry. Millions of power supplies and cartridges are produced every year, and California is expected to account for nearly one-fourth of all cannabis sales in the U.S. by 2024.  The Leaf Online – December 10, 2019

As you toss your used-up cannabis oil vape cartridge in the trash, you might wonder, can I recycle that instead? The short answer is no—and with the popularity of vape pens steadily rising, that’s a problem.

Reports show that concentrate sales are expected to overtake flower sales by 2022, with a large majority of these oils being consumed through pre-loaded vape cartridges.  Read more on leafly.

With so many different iterations of disposable vape pens flooding the market, environmentalists and concerned consumers are cringing about the inevitable flood of post-consumer waste these products are causing. The cannabis industry is growing, and its garbage problems are growing right along with it. Read more on Forbes

Upcycle Pop is a program of  the nonprofit – Up Kindness – DBA, The Atrium – A creative Innovation Center for Sustainability. Lets make human kind a net positive to this planet and build a kind and sustainable future.


UPCYCLEPOP LAB, 7300 Folsom Blvd #101, Sacramento CA 95826, 916.642.9415


  1. Sungrown Packaging and Higher Standard Packaging from recyclable and compostable materials
  2. HISIERRA sustainable dispensary exit bags from renewable plant-based materials from their fossil-fuel free facility.
  3. Regenerative farming methods; many cannabis companies are going beyond sustainability using such methods.
  4. Flow Kana “beyond-organic” and sustainable cannabis; partner with veteran farmers that grow small batches of sun-grown cannabis.
  5. Eel River Organics organic and sustainable marijuana farming methods and outdoor-grown cannabis; dry farming is as close to zero-waste and biodynamic as is currently possible. 
  6. L’Eagle only adult-use, indoor grown cannabis grower with a Clean Green certification.
  7. Terrapin Care Station
  8. Bird Valley Organics ancient Hugelkultur technique.
  9. Swami Select
  10. Catalyst Cannabis Co
  11. Raw Garden concentrates, labeled Clean Green.
  12. Sana Packaging
  13. Hemp Wick—exactly what the name implies; produced by many different brands and companies.
  14. Puffco—high-quality, non-toxic, long-lasting vaporizers; refill chamber for hash oil that does not come from traditional cartridges.
  15. Phuncky Feel Tips
  16. Marley Natural
  17. Sunrise Mountain Farms, a clean, sustainable approach to producing cannabis alongside naturally thriving wild elderberries (Sambucus).
  18. Papa & Barkley’s; company’s pre-existing, small-holder agricultural ecosystem (think Dr. Bronner’s) which is 100% free of the harmful pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers necessitated by Big Ag, makes the need for a Big Ag cannabis takeover in California completely obsolete,” according to CEO Michael Steinmetz, who believes the cannabis industry at large, needs to “prioritize environmentally responsible practices and source from sustainable resources.” 
  19. Canndescent; invested a combined $3.75m to retrofit its inimitable 11,000 square foot warehouse for solar and cannabis production; CFO Tom DiGiovanni reports they want “to help the ‘green’ industry to go greener” by accelerating the adoption of solar power and “green door” practices within the cannabis industry.