Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Recycling Questions (mostly) Answered

Paper or Plastic?

Are aluminium cans better than plastic bottles?

Are Biodegradible chip bags better for the environment?

Click on the title to read the Recycling Council of Alberta Connector and you will have all the answers at the fall Home Show.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Community Celebration to Honour Ron Berezan

YOU ARE INVITED! Many MCR Grads will remember Ron Berezan, the Urban Farmer, from his presentations on the benefits of compost to the soil and to the environment at our courses from 2007 to 2009. Ron and his family are moving to Powell River, BC this year, but leave behind many who have benefitted from his message.

Personal Community Support Association (PCSA) is planning an event to honour Ron Berezan for his contributions to community in urban agriculture, local food, permaculture, and deep ecology.
This family-friendly event will be held Sunday, August 15th, from 2 pm to 5 pm in Edmonton and will also serve as a fundraiser for PCSA, a local charity supporting Cityfarm Adventure, Community Garden and Little Green Thumbs programming. All are welcome!

If you have any questions, please email the MCRP team. Registration and the event information is forthcoming in early July.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Edmonton Journal and Metro Feature MCRP Celebration Event

Soldier brings composting know-how to Kandahar

Byline: jeff cummings

Publication: Metro Edmonton (print& online)

Page: 3

24 June 2010 05:32

Photo courtesy of Metro

Councillors Ben Henderson and Kim Krushell get their hands full of compost with Maj. Sean Ward, a graduate of the city’s Master Composter Recycler program, which celebrated its 20th anniversary yesterday.Once Maj. Sean Ward graduated from the city’s Master Composter Recycler program, it didn’t take long for his skills to be put to use. Ward brought his composting expertise to war-torn communities outside the Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan, along with cutting down on landfill waste at the base. The soldier would keep the coffee grounds from Tim Hortons and food waste from the kitchen at the base before turning the garbage into compost that could be used for local gardening. “It was successful enough where I had three truckloads, and it allowed me to take my message to the local Afghans,” said Ward. “The other soldiers thought I was a bit strange, a little wacko. But as they played Nintendo, I was out there turning my heap.” Ward was among 661 graduates of the program celebrating its 20th anniversary at city hall yesterday. The city says the grads have spent 35,000 hours of their time educating people on green waste management practices. For more information on the program, check out www.edmonton.ca/waste

Garrison major brings art of Afghan composting back to Big E;
City's master composter program celebrates 20th anniversary
Publication: Edmonton Journal
Date: Thu Jun 24 2010
Page: B3
Section: Cityplus
Byline: Julianna Cummins
Source: Edmonton Journal

Maj. Sean Ward knew a lot about composting before he went to Afghanistan, and he came back with an even greater appreciation of its possibilities.
Afghans, he learned, use human waste as manure. Now, Ward has a composting toilet in his garage. He said his neighbours have never complained.
Ward is one of 661 volunteers in the City of Edmonton's Master Composter Recycler program.
On Wednesday, Edmonton hosted an event at City Hall to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the program.
Volunteers must complete a three-week course, in which they learn about waste-reduction practices, including composting methods, recycling and hazardous waste management.
Ward's interest in composting started with his aversion to a backyard chore.
"Initially, I just used to hate bagging my grass (clippings)," said Ward.
When he moved in Edmonton from Ottawa in 2008, he found the program online and joined. Once volunteers finish the course, they are asked to commit 35 hours to educating others about recycling and waste reduction.
Ward introduced composting to the Military Resource Centre's daycare at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton and his unit. When he was deployed to the Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan, he continued to compost to take his mind off work, using waste from the dining hall and the local Tim Hortons.
"I find composting very cathartic," said Ward. After collecting three truckloads of compost, Ward decided to work with the provincial reconstruction team in Kandahar city to set up composting with Afghan district leaders.
But when he showed them a sample of the compost, the district leaders wanted to use it to feed their livestock. That's what they do with all their organic waste. They told Ward nothing gets wasted.
"I felt like the rich, spoiled Canadian," said Ward.
He then worked with the district leaders to develop a safe way to compost human waste, what is usually used as manure for fields in the area, said Ward.
"That's how nature designed it ... from the beginning," said Ward.
Mildred Thill was in the first class ever offered by the volunteer program and received a plaque at Wednesday's event. Thill's composting career, however, started in Toronto, while her husband was studying at the University of Toronto in the 1980s. She started a recycling program in the building she was living in, making it one of the first apartment-style recycling programs in Toronto.
Her property manager wasn't on board with the idea at first, said Thill, but she was persistent.
"I don't know what it is about Alberta, but we just don't take no for an answer," said Thill.
Sonya Hinds, Lindsay McWhirter and Mary Hicks are graduates of the 2003 class, and found each other at the event.
While 661 students have graduated from the program, around 250 are active at any given time, said Connie Boyce of the city's waste management branch. In November, the city is offering a refresher, which will include suggestions on how to approach a neighbour who puts out 20 bags of garbage, said Boyce.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Composting is Simply Wonderful!

Maria K and her girls (seen here at last year's garden harvest) were recently featured in a Manitoba newsletter article extolling the virtues of composting and living simply.

The well written article highlights the benefits of compost compared to chemical fertilizers. Read it by clicking on the title of this post (it is on page 14).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What the...

What did Mark find in his compost pile that should not have been there?

And not just one, but a couple dozen, in the working layer of the pile.

Are there more? From where did they come??

Can you shed any light on this mystery?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Master Composter Recycler in Afghanistan

Canadian Soldiers Enrich Afghan Soil

As a member of the City of Edmonton Master Composter Recycler program, I endeavoured during my recent seven month deployment to Afghanistan to tap into Kandahar Airfield’s (KAF) massive amount of food waste generated by the 20,000 multinational troops stationed there. My intent was to demonstrate the feasibly of composting in Afghanistan and to highlight its usefulness to the local population.

While preparing the first compost pile, there was concern from preventative medicine officials that the Food Web of an Afghan compost pile may contain or attract more dangerous critters than the typical Canadian heap. Specifically, would the highly poisoness and aggressive scorpion and insidious camel spider be a part of the predatory ecosystem to replace our more benign pseudoscoprion and our friendly Canadian garden spider? Would there be any disease vectoring mites or different bacteria present in the pile that could be harmful? In Afghanistan attracting mice is always a major concern because where there are mice there will be deadly saw scale viper snakes waiting to have a meal. Would the same Canadian composting principles of regular turning and adequate moisture be successful in warding off these creatures? Would composting in Afghanistan be a viable waste management activity? Under the watchful eye of many doubtful officials, I was permitted to forge ahead with a modest three-bin system.

Delightfully, I found that the basic tenants of composting worked extremely well in Afghanistan. Through the cooperation of Canada’s KAF Tim Hortons and one of the Camp’s major kitchens, volumes of donuts, coffee grinds and vegetable matter were successfully composted and diverted from the Camp’s incinerator. As well, some captured Talaban bomb making materiel, ammonium nitrate, was mixed with shredded paper to compliment the heap’s nitrogen to carbon ratio. In essence the materials of war were converted to enrich the country’s soil.

Furthermore, the smell and sight of the compost pile’s ecosystem throughout its many stages were the same as what one would expect in Canada – lots of ground beetles, millipedes, sow bugs, mites and the familiar lovely aroma of actinomycetes. Fortunately, scorpions and attacking spiders were not a problem, however, preventing flies was a major challenge. Flies in Afghanistan, despite the lack of water and vegetation can be incessant. Where they came from I have know idea! However, with an open and exposed pile they multiplied by the thousands. Their population was controlled through regular turning and by covering the pile with plastic to make it difficult for them to lay their larva.

With about three yards of finished compost and with the cooperation of the Canadian Provincial Reconstruction Team, I held a “how to composting seminar with officials from the Afghan Department of Agriculture, Kandahar City Waste Management and several District leaders. Interestingly, the average home in Kandahar has next to no vegetable waste. All food scraps are fed to the family livestock for food so household waste is not an issue like it is in Canada. Instead, the seminar was tailored to focus on the more challenging task of safely composting human manure. This is a waste resource that many rural families are discarding or unsafely applying directly to their fields. Challenging as it is was conveying the principles of composting through a translator, all of the participants left the seminar bolstered with the concepts of turning their waste into a resource through composting.

Delightfully, the success of the small three bin KAF composter proved that composting in Afghanistan and KAF is a safe and viable waste management activity for the local Afghans and 20,000 KAF soldiers. As a result, KAF environmental engineers are now investigating larger scale composting concepts for KAF and local village leaders are conveying the concepts to help their people.

Major Sean Ward
City of Edmonton Master Composter Recycler

Friday, June 4, 2010


Next weekend on Saturday June 12, 2010 we have the Edmonton Waste Management Centre’s Open House from 9:00 a.m. until 4 p.m. at 13311 Meridian Street.
Try to come and see all the changes: there will be tours, displays, interactive children’s stations, and a chance to buy a bag of compost for $5.00. Tell everyone you know!

It should be FUN! We still have some spaces for volunteers to help out as well for one or two shifts: either 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. or 12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. in fact WE NEED YOUR HELP!

Compost and Worm Bin Building Activity (4 volunteers each shift)
--Educate families about benefits of composting and share your love of waste
reduction by building a worm bin or making a compost tea bag. Be the
Compost Gourmet Chef.

Tour Ticket Booth and Shuttle Bus Stop Attendant (2 for each shift)

-Cheerful, organized person to hand out tickets in an orderly fashion at the tour bus loading and shuttle bus arrival area.

-Tour bus tickets are first come, first served. Tickets have a time stamp and are given out until tours are full. Tours begin in auditorium where tour guide checks tickets and maintains schedule.

-Inform staff as to how many tours are full. Assist Tour Guide with keeping bus line-ups orderly, and call Volunteer Emergency # 496-4741 if needed.

Volunteer Programs Booster (2 per shift)
Help Staff this display about our two programs and your experiences as a volunteer. Volunteers with over 40 hours and those who have worked in both programs are most desirable.

Greeters (3 per shift)
Welcome people as they come in the door. Have to learn what is going on around the site, and be able to answer questions and direct people to desired locations.

Eco Station Booster (1 for each shift)
Talk to people about the 3 Eco Stations: should know where they are, how to get there, what they accept.

Floater (1 for each shift)
Staff volunteer lounge, and back up all other volunteers

Garbageman Helper (1 for each shift)
Help Collections Staff play the garbageman game focusing on safety as well as talk about Assisted Living program

Michael Recycle and his Attendant (2 for each shift)
Be the Waste Management Branch Mascot (15 minutes a time) or his companion on a short walkabout. Michael is very active and fun-loving. Bring an extra t-shirt to wear when in costume. Being tall and fit is an asset for this position.

Photographer (5 for each shift)
Capture special moments of volunteers and staff: crowd shots, tour shots, candid shots all wanted

Raffle Ticket Seller (2 per shift)
Help sell tickets for some themed 3R Door Prizes. Show off what is up for grabs….

Recycling and Multi-FamilySpecialist (2 per shift)
Help staff the recycling display, play blue bag games, teach proper use of recycle systems and stress the importance of proper waste handling and worker safety


DRIVING: from the south side of the river, head north on Meridian Street (Hwy 14 or Anthony Henday east) to 131 Avenue, turn right.
Do NOT Park along the main road from the gate to the scales - keep this clear for tour busses to bypass lineups and stay on schedule. Follow directions/signs from parking attendants

Drive through the scalehouse, let the attendant know you are there to work the event. Take the first right and park at the Operations Building - a shuttle will transfer everyone to the event site.CHECK IN at Volunteer Lounge, behind the reception desk in the Administration Building, and you will be directed to your station (Map in Volunteer Area. Note: Plan to be a little early due to the TRAINS - there are railway tracks crossing the route just north of the Yellowhead and you may have to wait 10 to 30 minutes for trains. This may lead to delays throughout the day, so be ready for quiet times followed by a large group arriving.

LUNCH is provided after the morning shift (stick around!) and prior to the afternoon shift (so arrive around 12). Coffee, tea, juice, and snacks provided throughout the day. Bring your water bottle, travel mug, and name tag. Food is on-side concession style, so if you have dietary requirements please bring some food along as we cannot confirm ingredients.

DRESS FOR THE WEATHER - even if you will be working inside.



We have had displays and brochures coming and going to many different locations--almost like a swinging door! Both staff and volunteers have been giving presentations at lunch hours and at community events. It's wonderful to be in such great demand! Thanks to all of you who stepped up to the plate!