Flour + Sugar + Water: Victoria’s Newest Sustainability Super Heroes!

Back to the Basics for a Sustainable Solution

Metropol staff applying wheatpaste to a poster pole in Victoria's Chinatown.

Metropol staff applying wheatpaste to a poster pole in Victoria’s Chinatown.

The challenge: To keep 20,000 posters a month out of the landfill.

The solution: Good old flour, sugar and water.

For hundreds of years, colourful, artistic posters have been used in cities in all corners of the world to promote cultural events and community activities. 

In Victoria more than 55 poster poles provide a designated space for letting people know what our vibrant downtown has to offer, while keeping buildings and other public areas clutter free.

For many years, layers and layers of tape and paper would accumulate on the poster poles each week.  With this method, each month 20,000 sticky paper posters were sent to the landfill, as the tape couldn’t be separated from the paper.

The City of Victoria recently partnered with Metropol, a local poster design and distribution company, to come up with a new, sustainable way of putting up posters in the downtown area.  As it turned out, the solution wasn’t a new idea at all, but instead involved a simple old-fashioned recipe. 

‘Wheatpaste’ is a simple, natural glue consisting of only flour, sugar and water and has been around since before Shakespeare.  It’s what he used to make his promotional posters stick.   Metrolpol now has a special ‘broll’ bucket on wheels to help move the wheatpaste around town. 

With the ‘new’ old method, tape is only needed on the base layer which means that the rest can all go in the recycle bin.  This will keep 400 pounds of paper out of the landfill each month which is approximately half a tree, every 30 days.

Sometimes the simplest idea is the most sustainable.  If you have plans to apply posters to the poster poles in the downtown area, please also use the ‘new’ wheat-paste method. Visit www.victoria.ca for more information.  You can also call our Downtown Coordinator at 250.361.0397 for the wheatpaste recipe.