Tuesday, August 31, 2010

More from Maria - she must really want to win lunch with Sheila Watt-Cloutier

I do like to share good news stories with interested people. Here’s an interesting website put together by two New Zealanders who are taking the impact that waste has on the environment very seriously. I see that they’ve also written a little book on living “rubbish free,” and their 2kg of rubbish to the landfill in a year is something quite amazing.


If Edmontonians could cut their waste to that degree, I guess the EWMB would only drive trucks one week per year! The closest I’ve seen to this was a 2009 Edmonton Journal clipping (that I saved for my Simplicity Circles) about a family trying a “garbage challenge” -- to get through a week without making more than one bag of garbage. I managed to find a link:


Maria K

Note from Mark,
Thanks Maria! It is interesting to compare these stories. I am a bit miffed about how much the Edmontonian thinks can't be composted, and could scream when she uses the toilet as a garbage can. However her honest and accessible article has probably caused many residents to reflect on the issues and has had far-reaching effects. Maybe we could make her an honourary MC/R!

Biofuels Facility in Journal

Read about today's ground breaking ceremony on the Journal's website.
(Also, check out the "Bright Idea in a Tidy Package" as well, for an innovative local solar lamp!)

Unexpected IPTF guest

Animal control was called to the Integrated Processing and Transfer Facility this month to pick up a 2 metre Boa Constrictor which had, apparently, been placed into a dumpster.

Our Reuse Directory doesn't recognise 'snake' as a keyword, but did bring up a variety of outlets for 'boa', none of which were costume shops.

Could this be called Eee!-waste?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Composting Systems at some Community Gardens

On Saturday August 21, 2010, I led a group of gardeners and enthusiasts on a tour of 7 community gardens in central Edmonton by bicycle. It still a bit smoky outside, but we pedaled our way around downtown and Strathcona. You can take a peek at our cycling route (with garden addresses) here.

It was a particular interest to see the various composting systems that were being used by each garden. Many Master Composters team up with a local community garden to mentor and maintain the compost bins, so perhaps this will strike your interest and get you out to the community garden in your neighbourhood!

Peace Garden Park
The first garden we toured was in Oliver, called Peace Garden Park. It is a very new garden (opened July 2009) and so it does not have a compost bin set up yet. A community member designed this one for Peace Garden Park, which they plan on building this September:

Green composting bin design.

Brown composting bin design.

I'm not quite sure why there are two separate bins but presumably the bins would all line up and the two outer bins could be holding units, while the two inner bins have a mix of greens and browns. I guess we'll have to wait and see!

The Queen Community Garden, www.thequeen.shorturl.com/
After a short bike ride north, we arrived at the Queen Mary neighbourhood garden. Also a new garden, they have a rather small compost bin for the volume of organic waste that they probably make. They, too, are planning on building a larger bin system.

Boyle Street Community Garden
A few blocks east and we arrive at the huge garden beside the firehall on 103A Ave and 96 St. The Boyle Street garden is one of the oldest gardens in the city, starting up in 1984! Our tour host, Bill, mentioned that there has been a decline in composting enthusiasm at the garden and the bins have been inactive for this year. He said that they would be good to start a composting committee which would actively turn and water the compost material as required.

A tired bin system made of old pallets.

The Boyle Street garden is in its final year of harvest at this location. With a redevelopment plan known as the Boyle Renaissance, the city is going to build a new community hall and apartments on the land where the garden currently sits. The garden will be relocated one block north to land that is currently a gravel parking lot. I was pretty sad to hear this since the Boyle Street garden has worked for so many years to make the soil healthy and alive! I suppose they will need a lot of compost at their future site.

Our Urban Eden
We biked south from Boyle Street, down into Louise McKinney Park, and west to the bottom of Bellamy Hill Road. Our Urban Eden is another established community garden. Due to high pedestrian traffic and almost daily cases of illegal dumping, they decided to remove their compost bins. Too many improper materials were being put in the bins, despite very clear
signage and education efforts. Maybe they'll try again some day...

Strathcona Rail Community Garden
After crossing the High Level Bridge to the south side of the river, we followed Saskatchewan Drive east for a bit then dipped south to the the street car tracks on 105 St. The Strathcona Rail community garden officially started in 2009, but had been a garden site for some 7 or 8 private lease holders since the early 1980s. With lots of old wood lying around, the gardeners had supplies to build a few different compost bins.

A single compartment black bin, and a two compartment wire bin system.

A wire holding pen.

The site is very large and the gardeners seem keen to capture all the organic waste and put it to good use. They have a composting committee which seems to help them keep up with their composting duties.

U of A ECOS Community Garden,
This garden is open to the community but organized by a summer staff of the Environmental Coordination Office of Students (ECOS). This garden has a mix of new and experienced gardeners and composters. In fall of 2008, they received materials from the Strathcona Home Depot to build a fine 4 bin composting system as well as a holding area for browns.

All bins are open to the public and garden encourages nearby residents to bring their organic waste to the community garden for composting. The signage has been essential for keeping unwanted materials out of the bins. They didn't report any problems with the compost bins so far, and they really like the browns storage bin! What a great idea.

University Farm Organic Growers, http://www.ufog.ca/
The biggest and best composting system of the cycling tour was at the University farm. There are two community gardens that operate at the University farm: UFOG and the Green & Gold community garden. I wasn't quite clear whether these two gardens send their compost to theUniversity Farm composting facility (which mostly processes animal manure from the various farm facilities) or if they compost it on site. I din't see compost bins at the gardens, so I assume they send it to the facility. We biked by the University composting facility.

Our tour guide for the UFOG garden said that the composting facility always has a pile of compost waiting for residents and small businesses to come pick it up at no charge. Its the small black pile on the right.A closer look at the free compost.

I learned that the University main campus does not send its organic waste to this little composting facility, but rather sends all the food waste from all the kitchens on campus, paper towel from the washrooms, and yard waste from the University landscaping crews at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre composting facility. More info here.

Some ideas from the tour about how Master Composters could help a community garden:

  • There are many new gardens that have yet to build their composting system. Contact the garden coordinator to see if they would like a composting workshop to start them off on the right foot.

  • Provide new gardens with the construction plans for a compost bin that will suit the volume of organic waste that they will have.

  • Offer to have weekly or monthly compost 'check up' nights where you can offer some solutions to the gardeners' questions. Do this for one full season so that you are able to talk to many gardeners over the course of the growing season.

  • Recommend that gardens have a committee for maintaining the compost bin: turning it and watering it as needed. This does not generally get done if it is left to 'everyone' to do it.

  • Engage the nearby residents and possibly some local cafes or restaurants. Teach them how to add their organic waste to the community garden bin.

  • Have a Compost Party in the fall and spread the new compost on the plots! Get kids invovled by having them do some screening or making small packets of compost for compost tea.
For a list of active community gardens, visit the Edmonton and Area Community Gardens website. For more pictures of the garden bicycle tour, visit the photo album.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Marathon Man

Hi there,
Saturday is the exciting Canadian Derby at Northlands Park, which includes the second annual Edmonton Mascot Race. You guessed right, we will be a part of it!

Michael Recycle will be running to be the fastest mascot in Edmonton! Michael and Laura would love to have some 3R fans in the crowd to wave our flags and cheer them on.

If you have never been to the Derby, it is an exciting day full of fashion, fun, and excitement! Admission and parking are free. There is a $2 breakfast, a fancy hat parade, a kids tent, prizes, and of course the derby, all happening Saturday, August 21, 2010 from 12:30-2:00pm.

See you there!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Majestic Plastic Bag - A Mockumentary

Hi, I am frequently thankful for the plastics recycling program at the Waste Management Branch. This little video only underlines that feeling. Have you seen it?

Maria K.

Friday, August 13, 2010

August Contest

This month we are giving away
two tickets to lunch with

Sheila Watt-Cloutier,
winner of the 2006 Canadian Environment Awards
Citation of Lifetime Achievement.

You get lunch at the Westin, Yum.

You get to listen to a Nobel Peace Prize nominee speak about the challenges of climate change and its impacts on her home in Canada's North.

You get to take a friend.

How great is that?

Four years ago on National Public Radio, Ms. Watt-Cloutier said:
"The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, and even new studies, indicate things are happening faster than predicted in recent assessments. So I would think in four years, if major countries haven't really started to act on addressing this issue, they will be pushed to do so. Because by four years, I would think things will be unfolding even worse than they are today."
As we each, in our own way, strive for a lesser impact from our actions, we can be inspired by one woman who continues her work to find solutions to our global challenge.
Rather humbling to a guy who is just trying to decide where to put the shredded paper.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Update on Growing Leaders Honours Ron Berezan

Due to low registration for the August 15th Growing Green Leaders Event honouring Ron Berezan, the event steering committee has decided to change the venue and event format.

"We hope you will join us on August 15th at the Richfield Community Garden from 2:00pm – 3:00pm. We anticipate attendance will be about 20 people; providing a wonderful opportunity to have an informal conversation with Ron, acknowledge his contributions, and hear his thoughts about the future for Edmonton."

Refreshments will be provided. Please bring your cup. This is an outdoor event, however if the weather is inclement we will move to a nearby indoor space. There is no charge to attend. (The community garden is located on an adjacent right-of-way to the Keegano Housing Co-op. For directions to the garden go to http://www.keegano.ca/#target7)

If you wish to make a donation in honour of Ron, you may do so on line at http://www.city-farm.org and click on CanadaHelps. Your donation will support their growing initiatives.

Please rsvp by August 10th. For those of you who purchased event tickets, you will be reimbursed. Cheques will be mailed in early September.

Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Winner of July Contest Announced!

To encourage dialogue on our MC/RP Blog we have entered the names of every contributor into a draw.

People who commented on the posts got one entry. Thanks to Suzy L, Dilshad U, and Karen L-C.

People who contributed posts or photos got five entries per submission. Thanks to Anna V for her e-waste submission, Allan Y for Compost Sales, and Tracy R-A for her Festival Tips.

All the names went into a fancy tin (from the Reuse Centre, of course) and the lucky winner is Tracy R-A! Your Starbucks card is in the mail.

The August contest is underway and we already have a few names in the tin. Our prize this month is worth $100, and will be announced Friday, stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Recycling in the Alberta Restaurant Industry

A discussion between the City of Edmonton, the Recycling Council of Alberta, and the Restaurant Industry about what can be done to divert more waste from landfill. Watch the interview here.

WHICH RESTAURANTS IN EDMONTON ARE RECYCLING CHAMPIONS? Please tell us your favourites in the comments section. All comments in August are entered to win a prize, which will be announced on Friday. Value $100!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Date set for next Open House

UPDATE! The next EWMC Open House will be Saturday, September 25!
Save the date! You will certainly want to be a part of all the fun.

Here are some memories from the June event...

WOW! What a great day! Thanks to all of you who came out and helped educate, entertain, and enlighten over one thousand guests.

With a lot of energy and enthusiasm from a great group of people who gave up their Saturday for us, we had most shifts covered and everything went off smoothly.

For many staff, it was their first opportunity to work along side the volunteers, and they were impressed by your knowledge, goodwill, and caring attention.

Waste Branch Volunteers are the Best in the City!

Enjoy these images from our Open House...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Edmonton Speaker Series presents... Sheila Watt-Cloutier

Nobel Peace Prize nominee
and world leader on
global climate change
and human rights.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Luncheon & Presentation
“Everything is Connected”
Noon – 1:30 p.m. at The Westin Edmonton
10135 - 100 Street (Doors open at 11:30 a.m.)
I am really excited to hear that ECF, E4C, and ESPC are bringing this amazing speaker to town. Sheila Watt-Cloutier on her own would be worth the price of a ticket, but pair that with lunch at the Westin and you have an event that is Not To Be Missed! If anyone wants to join me at a MCRP table of ten we can get the reduced rate. Please let me know by Aug 23!
Here is some information on the event:

With a focus on solutions, Watt-Cloutier brings us to the realities of the Arctic, where Inuit today face profound challenges to their environment, their economy, their health and their cultural well-being. The challenges they face are clearly connected to the industries we support, the disposable world we have become, and the non-sustaining policies we create.
Because her Inuit culture faces the most extreme challenges of globalization, Watt-Cloutier speaks from firsthand experience -- and couples that with her extensive experiences as a global leader.

Everything is Connected: Environment, Economy, Foreign Policy, Sustainability, Human Rights and Leadership in the 21st Century.
Tickets: $50 each or Table of 10: $450
Available at TIX on the Square:
780-420-1757 or at: www.tixonthesquare.ca

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Keep your lawn greener with less work

Welcome August - the hottest month of the year.

August heat can take a toll on your lawn. Here are some things to do that will keep you turf tuff:

Mow High! Keep those roots shaded.

Mow Often! Encourage thicker growth.

Topdress! A cm or two of compost keeps soil cool and reduces browning.

Water! Deeply, weekly to encourage healthy roots.

Reduce Thatch! If your lawn feels spongy underfoot, your thatch layer may be too deep. Grass needs a cm or two of thatch for good health; if you have more then topdress with compost and water lightly every day for a week. The microorganisms in the compost will turn some of that thatch to soil. Warm days speed this process.

Grasscycle! Those clippings provide moisture, protection, and nutrients that will help your lawn recover quickly.
Reduce your Lawn Area! Build a Lasagne Bed now and you will have less mowing and more vegetables next year.

Stay Cool! Hammock, beverage, and shade reccommended.