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This month in social innovation

Do you to want to know what good ideas are solving problems around the world? Here is a selection of some inspiring news from January!

Making the food industry sustainable
Imagine a train that’s 60,000 railway cars long. From end to end, it spans 1,000 kilometres. You could fill that train with the amount of food Canadians wasted – an estimated 6 billion kilograms – in 2010 alone. We are one of the biggest producers of food waste on the planet. In Canada, 396 kg of food is lost (spilled or damaged at production levels) or wasted (thrown away by consumers) every year per capita. (note: We are thrilled to see solutions from two CSI’s Climate Ventures members in this piece!)

How an emerging African megacity cut commutes by two hours a day
“With a metro, an international firm will often just parachute in its own system,” says Kost. “Bus rapid transit allows existing stakeholders to get involved. That’s what we did in Dar es Salaam and what we’re planning in Nairobi, where the bus bodies will be built in the city and local operators will look after tickets, fare collection and IT. It’s good for the development of the local economy.”

Sioux Lookout hospital program brings traditional food to patients
“Really early on we got stories of people who were residential school survivors who had avoided going into hospitals, couldn’t eat certain foods anymore that they had been served in residential schools or hospitals because they were triggering,” said Hayley Lapalme, the designer and facilitator of CSI member Nourish.

The Town that gave Spam to the world is proud to be ‘Autism-Friendly’
Austin Minnesota is an autism-friendly town. Ten years ago, it became one of the first in the country to launch a community-wide effort both to reduce the disorder’s stigma and make local businesses aware of the special needs of autistic customers. It is also probably the only small town in America to employ a community autism resource specialist.

Toronto’s first zero-waste market
Called Unboxed Market, the 1,500 sq. ft. store is slated to open in February on Dundas West, containing a cafe, produce section, butcher counter, dry goods, bakery, grab-and-go table, smokehouse and charcuterie room. All sold without packaging.

Manitoba’s 1st social impact bond hopes to raise $3M to help at-risk moms
Manitoba’s first social impact bond is looking for $3 million in private investment to pay for a program to reduce the number of days children in the province spend in care. The two-year pilot project, Restoring the Sacred Bond, would match doulas with up to 200 at-risk expectant mothers to support them through pregnancy and following childbirth.

What happened after two decades of affordable childcare in Quebec
The program generated income taxes to cover more than 100 percent of the cost. The increase in the number of young women in Quebec’s labor force has generated such a return in terms of taxation, taxes back into economies in social benefits, and fewer families depending on social benefits, which in turn increases government savings.

The ‘Right to Repair’ Movement Is Gaining Ground
Consider the last time your own dishwasher broke. With the right rules in place, it would be a cheap and easy fix. However, you’re not allowed to fiddle with the machine because it would invalidate the warranty. So, instead, you go and buy a new model and throw the old one on the dump. (If this news makes you want to fix something, check out the Toronto Tool Library!)

A coalition of giant brands is about to change how we shop forever
When you’re done eating a tub of Haagen-Dazs, you’ll toss the sleek stainless steel package in your personal reuse bin instead of your trash can. Then it will be picked up for delivery back to a cleaning and sterilization facility so that it can be refilled with more ice cream for another customer.

Last word:

Eight myths about public sector innovation — debunked

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