In 2015, two entrepreneurial brothers Bal & Sarj Sabharwal became aware of the sheer volume of polystyrene products used while attending a local, annual, one-day-event. Both brothers being engineers, businessmen, and community activists, quickly realized the impact of how this one event was generating mass amounts of non-degradable waste. This single event saw nearly half a million visitors attend and those attendees consumed food served on and with millions pieces of foam and related products. It was a calling that both felt they had to answer. They launched a gofoamfree campaign that has successfully removed millions of polystyrene products from landfills and are becoming innovators and researchers of biodegradable products. The goal through research, outreach and activisim is to cultivate world class sustainability solutions with consideration given to environmental and social impact.
Balsar Community Foundation
111, 12414 82nd Avenuei - V3W 3E9, Surrey, BC Canada.
+778 863 5479
Vaisakhi Parade, Surrey• April 2017-current
An ongoing initiative to replace polystyrene products with compostable, sustainable substitutes at the largest Vaisakhi event in North America. Alongside this initiative is the goal to create awareness prior to event through a marketing campaign with signage and advertising along parade route and media buys. First 2 years of the campaign saw nearly half a million pieces of Polystyrene products replaced with compostable bagasse ones.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University • 2019
A campaign supported by the Foundation begun by KPU students on the business applications of compostable products, particularly in restaurants.
Surrey Community Event • 2020
A run organized by leading female athletes, business woman and activists to encourage the citizens of Surrey in it's inaugaral road 5k/10km run. The run was to become the city's strongest example of runs with sustainability and environmental as one of it's goals and targets. COVID-19 has resulted in postponement to 2021.
Chairman/Co-Founder • 2017 - Present
Sarabjit, or Sarj for short, was three years old when his family immigrated from India to Canada and settled in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. With older sister Gurjinder and big brother Baljit around for support, Sarj quickly adjusted to his new life in the great north. His inquisitive disposition and extroverted personality combined with a kind heart opened doors and opportunities and Sarj progressed rapidly through elementary and high school before setting his sights on the engineering faculty at the University of British Columbia. After becoming something of a "lab rat" at UBC, Sarj graduated in 1992 with a degree in Chemical Engineering. He quickly found work as a Research Assistant with the Pulp and Paper Institute of Canada before trying his hand as a freelance Graphics Designer. It was a position made for his keen sense of colour and imagery as well as his understanding of what looked good on the printed page and small or big screens. Sarj became a publisher for awhile and tried other endeavours but graphic design became his calling card and served him in good stead when the brothers Sabharwal joined forces in 1993 to establish Copytek Print Centres. They made a formidable team and Sarj established himself over the years as a highly accomplished designer, production manager, exceptional printer and passionate environmentalist. Since their arrival in Canada the whole Sabharwal clan have been active in the community especially the Vaisakhi celebrations. Sarj closely watched the food preparations for this event and assisted with the cleanup but was dismayed at the amount of foam and plastic waste that was being dumped into local landfills. He read everything he could find about the subject and conducted extensive research into alterative products made of sugar cane and bamboo. His passionate embrace of environmental issues resulted in his appointment to the City of Surrey's Environmental and Sustainability Advisory Committee where he served with distinction from 2014 to 2018. In 2018 Sarj was the catalyst behind the creation and implementation of the Foam Free Vaisakhi campaign which established a five year target to divert 5 million pieces of waste from the event which annually draws 500,000 people to Surrey. During the first two years of this campaign over 2 million pieces were diverted as their website urged businesses to take the Foam Free Challenge. Sarj and his brother Bal did so many media interviews on the topic that they became known as the Foam Free Brothers. They also spoke out against the use of single use plastics like straws in restaurants and were, no doubt, significant influencers in the decision to ban the use of these items. In addition to his long association with the Vaisakhi parade and celebrations in Surrey as well as his strong focus on environmental issues, Sarj is well known as a community activist. Among many events he has supported, he is especially fond of his work at the Fusion Festival where the India Pavilion has been an award winner for each year of his participation. Other significant associations include the Cloverdale Blueberry Festival, the South Asian Business Networking Group, the BC Summer Games and the Surrey food Bank. Sarj continues to live in Surrey in a multi-generational household and when he is not advocating for causes linked to sustainability he likes to work out, travel and take long walks while occasionally finding time for a round of golf.
Vice-Chairman/Co-Founder • 2017 - Present
Wedged between three other states on the eastern seaboard of India alongside the Bay of Bengal lies the state of Orissa where Baljit Singh Sabharwal was born and lived until he was five years of age and immigrated to Canada. As the first son and second child of a prominent Sikh family, Bal, as he is widely known, was able to avoid the middle child syndrome and grew up happy and carefree in the Surrey area. From an early age he tagged along to numerous construction sites with his father and picked up invaluable building techniques and knowledge which would be put to good use when it was time to build his own home. Some of his favourite sites were Sikh temples which drew him closer to his faith and provided a sense of serenity during occasional periods of stormy waters. Bal was mechanically and electronically inclined with a penchant for taking things apart and putting them back together. He soon found himself enrolled in the academically challenging engineering faculty at the University of British Columbia. He and his brother Sarj made the long commute to UBC every day in a beat up Volkswagen as they were not prepared to abandon their mothers cooking for dorm life. The brothers took to academia like ducks to water and Bal graduated with his Bachelor's degree in Engineering Physics in 1990. For the next three years he worked in construction and in research for a satellite design company and also conducted research for several mills but longed for an opportunity to hone his skills in his own shop and control his destiny. In 1993 Bal and Sarj combined their resources and entrepreneurial instincts to establish Copytek Print Centres in Surrey. They started doing engineering drawings on a contract basis and expanded the business to include design and printing-ultimately becoming a prepress unit producing film and scanning on large drum image setters. The main customers for these service were advertising agencies and other printers. Now after more than 25 years of dedicated service and countless awards and accolades Copytek enjoys a reputation as one of the most ethical printers in the business and is widely recognized for continually giving back to its community. In fact Bal is so involved and invested with charitable organizations and community events that it is difficult to determine where his volunteerism ends and paid work begins. His passion for community extends to volunteering and participation. Bal played soccer and high level field hockey in his youth and later coached soccer for many years to stay close to his son. He joined the running club and started to pursue his pilot's license and currently has taken up playing the violin, quickly becoming so proficient on the stringed instrument that he was invited to play at a wedding. Bal served on the Langley International Festival Society and the Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce for many years. During his time at the Chamber he led the launch of The Clovies to honour business excellence. He continues to take an active role on the annual Fusion Festival and Vaisakhi Parade where his pioneering efforts to reduce foam in landfills and safeguard our environment has led to international acclaim. Bal continues to serve as the Chair for Metro Valley East Community Corrections. Recently ensconced in a new home near his office, Bal and his wife enjoy a very active home life with a blended family of five children and a dog. He looks to the future with unbridled optimism.
Executive Director • 2017 - Present
Following a banking career in Manitoba and Ontario, Wayne joined Vancity where he served for 26 years. He was a Branch Manager, Controller, and established/managed the IT, Administration, Human Resources, Operations departments before becoming the Senior Vice President of Marketing & Member Services. In 1989 Wayne helped establish the Vancity Community Foundation and served on its original Fund Raising Committee. Upon leaving Vancity, Wayne received the Distinguished Service Award from the Credit Union Foundation of British Columbia. Wayne helped to establish and later chaired Central Data Systems and introduced computer services to the credit union system. Subsequently, in partnership with Geac, he led the development of the first fully online system designed for financial institutions in Canada. He was also involved in pioneering the development of services such as daily interest savings accounts, ethical funds, Vancity Visa, Teleservice and was tasked with numerous branding campaigns and also served on the Province Wide Advertising Committee as well as the BC Central Pension Plan for credit union employees. Wayne subsequently founded McKay Lenarduzzi Marketing, an advertising agency/consulting firm that acted for thirty five credit unions while representing professional athletes/teams and staging international soccer matches. He was a founding director of the Vancouver 86ers/Whitecaps and handled their marketing for four years during which the team won the Canadian soccer championship four times. He worked as a coach/mentor and assisted boards with mergers, branding and governance issues. He remains totally committed to customer service, teamwork and employee engagement. Wayne has always been a proponent of giving back and has assisted numerous organizations/charities in various capacities. He was the Chair of the Vancouver Sun Children's Fund, Treasurer of the Vancouver Crime Prevention Society, Governor of the Norwest Fastball League, and Advisor to Douglas College. His directorships include MACU, Child Development Foundation, BC Association of Integrated Marketers, Kwantlen Polytechnic University Foundation and Western Gold Theatre. He was the leading national fundraiser for Terry Fox for two years and was instrumental in saving and restoring the PNE Carousel which had been slated for demolition and sale. In 2002 Wayne joined Westminster Savings Credit Union as Vice President Marketing-overseeing promotions, communications and consolidating their two name brands while assisting in the opening of three branches. He also had executive responsibility for the Westminster Savings Foundation for seven years. Wayne moved to Surrey in 2009 and returned to his consulting practice and continues to lend his expertise to a wide range of clients and causes including the staging of golf tournaments, road races and The Clovies for the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce. He looks forward to the next chapter of his career as The Executive Director of Balsar.
Director at large • 2020 - Present
Norma is a long-term advocate for sustainability. She has volunteered at the David Suzuki Foundation (DSF) since 2010 and was one of the first coaches in the DSF's ongoing "Green Coaching" campaign created by a public engagement specialist dubbed "the Queen of Green.". The goal of the campaign was to promote sustainability at the community level by coaching families to make simple changes in their homes, from raising awareness of issues with food and reducing waste to understanding potentially harmful chemicals in cosmetics. It led Norma to create her own side business, called Ahimsa Green Products, selling home made all natural cosmetics and cleaners as well as teaching DIY workshops. The coaching program was also the topic of her thesis work, analyzing motivations and barriers as well as the role of sustainability leadership in a bottom up approach to implementing sustainability. In early 2019, she became a DSF butterfly ranger and created a native flower garden in her community park, in order to promote habitat for pollinators as well as awareness of the issues surrounding pollinator decline. The volunteer work at the DSF has also led Norma to be involved in their "Blue Dot" campaign that has the overarching goal of enshrining the Right to a Healthy Environment in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and an interim goal of municipalities adopting a right to a healthy environment, namely a declaration guaranteeing access to clean water, air, and soil. Norma was instrumental in having the City of Surrey make such a declaration in early 2016.She is also currently serving her third 2-year term on the Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee (ESAC) to the City of Surrey and is a member of the Environment Team at the Surrey Board of Trade (SBOT). As a member of ESAC as well as her involvement with the Surrey for Future group, the group behind Surrey's Climate Strikes, she was a driving force behind ESAC's motion to ask City Council to declare a climate emergency, which was unanimously passed in late 2019. Norma has also been working at MetroQuest, a public engagement software company in Vancouver since 2013. Previously she was their project and production manager and later the customer success manager. She has taken on a smaller role since returning from her second maternity leave, working on strategic projects and sharing her experience by creating content for the Customer Success and Support team as well as the Marketing department. She has a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations with a focus on Environmental Politics and Policy from the University of British Columbia (UBC) where she was accepted into the Golden Key Honorary Society for the top 10 percent of any program. Norma also has a Master of Arts in Environment and Management from Royal Roads University where she was the recipient of the Founder's Award for exemplifying leadership and sustainability as well as the cohort peer award of the "rock of sustainability" for best representing the qualities the award implies. Prior to, she studied at the University of Lucerne Switzerland, faculty of Law, and left in the second year when she relocated from Switzerland to Canada to be with her now husband. The two of them live in South Surrey with their two children, age 3 and 1. She is excited to take on a role as a Director at Large at Balsar where she is looking forward to continuing her pursuit of sustainability at the community level.
Director at large • 2020 - Present
DIRECTOR AT LARGE BALSAR COMMUNITY FOUNDATION Jim was just nine years old when his parents began acquiring a chain of newspapers in northern Alberta so he literally grew up in the business, learning its many components from editorial to advertising to composing to the business side of the industry. When his parents retired Jim and his brother purchased the business and consolidated it under the Mackenzie Report banner. Jim spent many challenging years, often under strange circumstances, in various outposts in Alberta while publishing newspapers located in federal mountain parks, small towns and one city. In 1999 Jim sold his shares and went to work for Black Press and in 2008 he packed up his wife and family and moved from Calgary to the Lower Mainland of British Columbia to become the Publisher of the Surrey North Delta Leader and the Cloverdale Reporter. Following a merger with the Surrey Now in 2016 Jim moved once again, this time to Brandon, Manitoba where he became the Publisher of the Brandon Sun and Carberry News-Express. He continues to reside in Manitoba while maintaining a future retirement home in BC. With printer's blood coursing through his veins, and over three decades of covering local, national and international events, there is not much that Jim has not seen and heard and it might be expected that a certain cynicism and detachment might have crept onto his pages by now. However he remains as enthusiastic and committed to his craft as when he started. His only concession to his heavy workload is that he now spends more time with his wife Suzanne, daughter Kassandra, son Trevor and three grandchildren. Early in Jim's career he recognized that a good journalist must have the ability to connect and contribute to the community and he set out to become involved wherever he went. It is quite a list. Municipal Counsellor for six years. Chair and Director of United Way for four year. President and Director of Surrey Board of Trade for five years. SFU Surrey Community Advisory Council for three years. Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society for two years. Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation for two years. Jim also found time to chair the Business Excellence Awards and participate with Fraser Heights Rotary Club and the Community Futures Program. He served on Foundation boards for Housing, and Ambulances Services and helped stage golf tournaments for KPU. Plus he was a member of a Task Force on Forestry and the Environment and the Urban Municipalities. Jim will now lend his many talents to the development of Balsar.
We've all been told to Recyle, Reuse and Reduce, but we should also be mindful in Replacing harmful disposable items with ones that are compostable and quickly biodegradable. The dependancy on unnecessary plastic is a critical value in our mission to help improve our planet's climate crisis.
...their (Balsar) efforts in sustainability and creating foam-free Vaisakhi events have created great interest. I applaud their work to remove polystyrene products that are difficult to recycle and contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment.SFU, VP-External Affairs (2020)
Their (Bal and Sarj) ongoing dedication to sustainability, innovation and creativity, and to their community in general, has been inspiring. They are leaders in the City of Surrey, but the impact of their vision for the Balsar Community Foundation will expand far beyond those borders.KPU, VP-External Affairs
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