Saturday, December 31, 2011

Conversation Starters for tonight's party

Here's a top ten list sent to me by Laurie T that makes my list of the Best of 2011.

What has been the highlight of your year? Share it in the comments section. Please mention this blog as one of your highlights, even if it is your first visit - I need the emotional support...

Have fun tonight!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Before you plant your seeds, feed your worms

Research done at Cornell University has confirmed that compost aids in disease suppression, and that when seeds are planted with vermicompost the organisms in the compost will colonize the seed and will also protect the seedling from unfriendly organisms.

Read the full article at
Check out the brilliant photo - the cosmic metaphor of micro-organisms is obvious. There is a universe in every drop of compost! Read Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets.

I start the new solar year (22 Dec) by planting a tray of seeds. This year I am going on a winter vacation and I won't be able to start growing as early as usual so I chose to Go Wild!, as the Edmonton Naturalization Group says. My tray of 5 native plant varieties is stratifying on my porch until I return from my holiday.

Can't wait to win the Front Yards in Bloom Natural Garden award this year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday Message from Roy

Happy Holidays!

Staff in our downtown office decorated this Christmas tree with ornaments made from recycled items, such as this one I'm holding made from a used light bulb.

These recycled items remind me of the beginning of our modern waste management system.... a simple recycling pilot.

They remind me of how much we have achieved as a result of this simple act and how, at times, simple words are all that's needed.

As such, I send you heartfelt thanks for the role you play in making our Branch a leader among cities and in delivering services that are most appreciated by our residents.

I wish you and your family an enjoyable Christmas and hope that 2012 will be a year you'll want to remember.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Bulb Eater comes to Ambleside Eco Station

The deer and voles have have some competition for bulbs now that Ambleside has its own Bulb Eater.

I don't think they'll complain.

Bulbs (aka CF lamps) from Coronation and Strathcona Eco Stations are sent to Ambleside for processing. It can take a variety of bulb shapes and sizes, and the video below demonstrates how much impact it will make on our waste stream.

Just another example of the excellent services residents get for their WM Utility fees.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Opt Out of CanPages

I noticed the CanPages in my mailbox today.

If you would rather not recieve them, opt out at

I'll be returning mine to their office next time I'm on the South Side.

Happy Waste Free Holidays!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


On Monday I had the opportunity to tour two industries in Edmonton that purchase and process some recyclables from our blue bags/blue bins. Thanks to Garry for organizing the trip!

The tour visited Allied Paper Savers and the Alberta Beverage Container Recycling Corporation Materials Recovery Facility(ABCRC MRF).

Allied Paper Savers purchases newspaper which is collected at Recycle Depots around the City. This newspaper is sorted and sold to CAN-CELL Industries Inc. to be turned into one of three products; Weathershield, Wallbar, and Fibremulch.

The ABCRC MRF receives refundable bottles collected from Bottle Depots in Edmonton and beyond. One interesting fact is that caps do not need to be removed from refundable containers taken to the bottle depots, however residents are still encouraged to remove caps for collection with Caps Off Program. Proceeds of the program go to the Rainbow Society of Alberta. This facility was beautiful to explore with large cubes of compacted milk cartons, plastic bottles, and aluminum drink cans stacked around the warehouse.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sharing the Good News

On Thursday, November 17, 2011, the Master Composter/Recycler Volunteer Program team (Karen LC, Mark SA, Laura H, and Patty S) were one of the five winners of the City Manager's Awards of Excellence.There was a video clip featuring each of the top three nominees in each of the 5 categories: advancing corporate culture, leadership, innovation, customer service, and stewardship before the winner was announced.

We were the last group featured --and we were the "lucky" ones selected to win the stewardship award.

The award itself is quite beautiful --handblown glass by a local artist and looks like a water droplet. This will help remind us that this recognition belongs to all of you volunteers whose environmental actions are like drops of water making ripples in a pond. Thanks for all your support, and congratulations to all of us!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How About Spending the Night at L'uni Theatre?

L'Uni Théâtre has kindly donated two ticket to the opening night performance of Grace and Gloria.


Email MCRP(at)Edmonton(dot)ca with L'Uni s'il vous plaîs! in the subject line, and they may be yours. We will put all the replies into a hat and draw the lucky winner on Monday.

You can send us one email per day!

Check their website for more!

Two women clash and find comfort at pivotal points in their lives in the heartwarming drama Grace et Gloria (Grace and Gloria) by Tom Ziegler, translated by Michel Tremblay. This collision of down-home values and contemporary norms between two women seeking balance in their lives launches L'UniThéâtre’s 19th season and runs Nov 17-20 and Nov. 24-27 at La Cité francophone (8627-91st St.).

With glowing accolades, such as the New York Times review declaring the show a “sentimental odd-couple crowd pleaser,” and the Toronto Star’s assessment as “a wry take on that well-worn battle between common sense and education,” Grace et Gloria is a bittersweet drama that aims to take comfort in unusual circumstances. Grace has just been released from hospital, sent home to die of cancer while real estate developers bulldoze her property. Gloria is a Harvard-educated business- woman whose participation in the New York rat race was sidelined due to her son’s death and finds herself as Grace’s caregiver. Given their different backgrounds, the two find solace in sorting through their emotional baggage, tackling such issues as religion, child-rearing, death and ultimately, love.

Grace et Gloria (Grace and Gloria) by Tom Ziegler, translated by Michel Tremblay is directed by Daniel Cournoyer and stars Thérèse Dallaire and Kristi Hansen. Technical direction by Erik Martin, assisted by Julie Becquart, costumes, set and lighting by Guido Tondino and Victoria Zimski, stage production by Pat Eyford, soundscapes by Jason Kodie.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Waste Management Services 2012 Budget Update

Last week, Waste Management Services’ 2012 budget was presented to the Utilities Committee requesting a fee increase of $1.86/month for single family and $1.21/month for multi-family households. City Council will make a final decision in December.
Here’s an explanation of the increase that volunteers can use to answer questions:

Why the Increase in Budget?
Why are you requesting a fee increase of 5.9%? (from $31.34 to $33.20 for single family and from $20.37 to $21.58 for multi-family)
Of the $1.86 per month increase (for single family homes), 38 cents is for the services provided directly to residents (collection services and operations at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre). The remainder is for non-operational increases, such as financing costs and corporate administration costs.
The waste fee supports garbage and recycling collection, Eco Stations, Big Bin events, recycling depots, all the environmentally responsible processing operations at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre, and landfill disposal.

Edmonton is going through a major transition in its waste system, from landfilling waste to processing waste and keeping waste out of landfill. This new system positions us as world leaders for its environmental sustainability. By 2015, we expect to be diverting 90% of residential waste from landfill.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Come to the downtown City Market!

We will be hosting a display in City Hall at the downtown Market on Saturdays starting November 12th from 10-3 p.m. Have fun with the Recycling Wheel and Compost Casino games! Take time to try some local food vendors, and wander over to the Reuse Centre for some great seasonal decorating ideas.

Check your knowledge about what can really be recycled or composted. You can sign up at

Friday, October 21, 2011

Waste Reduction Week

During Waste Reduction Week, the staff in our office accepted the Wednesday Litterless Lunch Challenge from the Office of the Environment and brought waste-free lunches to work. (See Laura Henderson to the left). A couple of displays went out promoting waste reduction initiatives. We even updated our "tips" on the web page:

But we in Edmonton have a very good reason to celebrate!A survey commissioned by the City of Edmonton shows more Edmontonians than ever are composting and grasscycling (leaving clippings on the lawn after mowing).

The number of single family households that regularly grasscycle increased by 16 per cent, from 36 per cent in 2009 to 52 per cent in 2011. Regular composting participation increased from 24 per cent in 2009 to 30 per cent in 2011.
“This shows that Edmontonians really are the foundation of our success in waste management,” says City Councillor Don Iveson. “We’re seeing a growing number of people reducing their waste through grasscycling and composting.”

Regular composting and grasscycling can cut an average single family household’s waste in half. Setting out less waste for collection and processing means fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Grasscycling and composting also lead to naturally healthier gardens and lawns and reduce the need for watering and chemical fertilizers.

An estimated 50,000 tonnes of waste is avoided each year through the waste reduction practices of Edmontonians. Without these activities, the City would need to collect and process about 20 per cent more material.
The City of Edmonton encourages grasscycling and composting through a variety of activities:
The Composting Education Centre at the John Janzen Nature Centre
Composting workshops in the spring, summer and fall
The Master Composter Recycler volunteer program
Education programs and partnerships
For more information on composting and grasscycling, visit

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Waste on YouTube

Do you like movies? Do you like learning? Do you like easily accessible information? Well you are in luck! You can access all Edmonton Waste Management videos from one location. Check it out:

Please bookmark this link and share it with friends, family, and strangers if they are interested in our videos.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Free Admission Day Fun!

On our record-breaking hot day last Sunday, September 25th, Free Admission Day, John Janzen Nature Centre hummed with guests.

Mark Stumpf-Allan and I were kept busy talking to people touring the Composting Education Centre, showing them the composters, recruiting new wanna-be converts, showing them the "red wiggler" composting worms, the finished compost and the benefits of compost tea. They appreciated our information and the shade on the deck and under the trees. Plus when they found the porcupine damage to the larch tree, the metal square decal with the porcupine etching was right beside it - Clue #1 on their Treasure Hunt Sheet.

People had fun exploring the John Janzen Nature Centre site: participating in the Treaure Hunt, watching bird banding, finding water insects in the wetlands pond area, playing in the newly redesigned auditorium.

Mark also took some of the compost from the bins and spread it on the grassy area adjacent to the centre, which needed some care. He made a labrynth of it, and invited passersby to try to walk it.....Later he raked it in. All in all it was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon!

One consistant comment from the visitors was that they hadn't known the Nature Centre was here, and what a lovely spot it was!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sherbrooke Food Rescue

Carol C. from Sherbrooke Community League has been working very diligently lately, both harvesting fruit and preserving it to make jelly, jam, and pie fillings with her team of community volunteers.

See more at the website:

Also, Canada A.M. had a very interesting interview with Carol that you might want to hear.

In Carol's words: "Just a quick brag. We were on CBC radio this morning and there was also a Shaw TV segment done that should be on TV soon. Check out:
See you all next week at the Telus Science Centre!"

Balcony Composting -- Give it a Try!

One of our master composter/recycler volunteers, Marilyn K., has been practicing composting on her balcony for nine years. When Marilyn moved from her house to her apartment, she looked at finding ways to continue composting without the space of a huge backyard. She soon developed an innovative method to compost in a small space.
She can produce four Rubbermaid totes of compost every year by using organic food scraps, coffee grounds, and some shredded paper. It’s easy to do, it doesn’t smell, and it doesn’t require too much effort. The end result is a lot of rich and healthy compost.

Here is Marilyn’s recipe for success:
2 Rubbermaid tote bins
2 containers (ice-cream bucket size, one for compostables, the other for dirt)
1 bag of leaves
1 small hand-held rake
1 pair of rubber gloves

Take the two Rubbermaid tote bins and drill holes in the lid.

- Collect kitchen scraps in a container that you store in your freezer. When the container is full, place it on the counter to defrost; then dump the materials into one of the bins .

-Cover the food waste (vegetables only) with a sprinkling of dirt, and then with a layer of leaves. Add water if necessary.

-Mix the layers often by hand (using the rubber gloves) or with your small raking tool.

- Monitor the moisture level. If there is too much water, add leaves and/or shredded paper, moistened cardboard or box board. Or take the lid off to let materials dry in the sun. If it is too dry, add some water or some more frozen veggie-mix from the freezer. Repeat until the bin is full and then start the next bin.

-In the spring, summer, and fall, with frequent mixing, a bin will turn into compost in two months. In the winter, the materials in the bin will freeze solid, so both bins will freeze solid. However, when the temperatures rise, composting will happen, the materials will break down and the volume will reduce.

-The more often you mix the materials, the faster it decomposes and the fresher it smells.

-Occasionally, when you mix the materials in your bin, you might smell a faint odour. Stir it up when escaping odours won’t interfere with people on their balcony, like in the early morning or late evening after supper. When the lid is back on there is no odour.

-Get leaves from a friend or relative, or visit a nearby park and help yourself. Marilyn cleans the park in return for the gift of leaves.-If you go on holidays, by layering the materials, your bin will still compost.

-Freezing basic materials helps them break down faster.

-Keep the contents as damp as a wrung-out sponge.

Use your compost as a top-dressing for house plants, lawn areas, or around shrubs.

Mix some in your watering can and let it sit overnight to make compost tea.

Fill a zipper-style storage bag with dry compost and craft a fancy package out of reuse materials for a wonderful and completely home-made gift.

When you are at the Reuse Centre collecting materials, say hello to Marilyn sorting in the volunteer room – she will be thrilled to share tips on her balcony composting techniques.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Plan today to park tomorrow

Tomorrow is Car Free Day. That statement may have bounced off you and you may not give it a second thought, but the reason we (as a global culture) do these little events is to remind ourselves that it may be easier than we realize to make that small change in our lives.

Sure, one day won't change the climate back to one with birds and frogs chirping instead of fierce winds, drought, and brown skies. But it is one step on that journey, and for some it may seem to be a pretty big step. Once accomplished, the next step becomes easier.

If you absolutely must drive your car, keep the Fuel Sense tips in mind:
  • drive at the speed limit

  • use cruise control on FLAT highway only

  • Don't Idle! Have you tried hypermiling?

  • Limit air conditioning

  • Decelerate gradually

  • Anticipate stops

  • Inflate tires

  • Plan routes to reduce drive time

  • Use lighter weight multigrade oil in the fall
Saturday's Moving Planet event is another opportunity to stand up and make a change on the local scene.

What are you doing this week?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Orange you glad you used compost!

More good news about the benefits of compost are coming out of Australia.

A South Australian Research and Development Institute study has demonstrated yield increases in orange orchards of 17 to 63 per cent. Fruit measured in the trial increased in diameter by 5 mm to 7 mm on average.

Why is this so exciting? People sometimes need to be hit over the head with a tonne of evidence before they will believe the simplest fact; sometimes we are too apologetic asking people if they wouldn't mind please trying to compost and grasscycle a bit. Every bit of good news helps clear up some confusion. Read the full article by clicking on the title.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Wasp Season is here again!

Yellow jacket wasps can be problematic this time of year.

To help prevent stings remember:
• Be careful not to disturb nests
• Never strike or swing at a wasp
• If a wasp gets close to you, move away slowly
• Avoid heavy, flowery perfumes, colognes or scents
• Drink sweet drinks from containers you can see into. If something end up in your mouth, tilt your head back, open your mouth, be still, and cross your fingers
• If a wasp gets into your vehicle, stay calm and stop in a safe place with as few quick movements as possible - use your hazard lights.

If you find a nest in your compost, avoid disturbing the pile until after the night time temperature drops below -10.

If you notice a nest, like the one hiding in the foliage above, near your garbage put-out or other public area, take the time to put up a sign alerting your collector and passers-by to the hazard.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Autumn Campaign

This week we are launching the “Know Before you Throw” campaign, encouraging multi-family residents to recycle the right materials.

Radio ads will air on Sonic, the Bounce, Now and the Bear.

Also, watch for ads online, on the LRT, in bus shelters, and in the Metro newspaper.

Grads will be able to ACE THE TEST on Vovici and be entered to win a very tasty prize! If you don't get 100% you will be entered to take some follow up training instead. (kidding)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Patty's Leaving/ Welcome Laura!

Patty has left us to be with her newborn baby. I'd like to welcome Laura who will be taking her place for the next year.

Many of you have met Laura already at trade shows and in the 2011 Master Composter/Recycler class. She will be sending out the emails and be the one who schedules and communicates with you about your activities! She is a delightful addition to our team as you will find out if you aren't already acquainted with her.

Good luck to Patty, and a big welcome to Laura!

Brokeback Compost

This article on compost application on ranch land brings together some pure Alberta issues - cattle, carbon sequestration, and some mighty fine scenery.
It also demonstrates that compost land application has long term benefits.

This is the perfect time to add compost to your garden and fill up those cracks in the soil - the carbon will penetrate deeply into the clay and improve next year's tilth.

Before you core aerate your lawn, fill up those cracks by topdressing with Second Nature - it will keep the moisture in the soil and make the aerating easier (water a couple days before renting the aerator for best results). Your soil will be ready for over-seeding later this month.

The compost will also ensure a cozy rest over the coming (sorry) colder months.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Recyle and the world smiles with you

I saw this recycle bin in Dapp, Alberta on the weekend.

Dapp is a small town that takes its connection to wildlife very seriously.

One side of the bin says "Every time you recyle an Owl smiles!!"

The other side says "Every time you smile a fish recycles!"


Monday, August 8, 2011

Share a gritty world view of Waste's Impact on Society

Our garbage says a lot about us as individuals and as a society.

A large number of Edmontonians recently got a taste for how different societies treat their waste via a number of award-winning films from around the world that were screened at the Metro Cinema.

The films were part of the 2nd installment of the REEL Waste film festival, a feature of the tri-annual Waste - the Social Context conference which ran from May 8 - 11th and offered a unique opportunity for delegates from around the world to meet and present research contributing to innovative solutions in sustainable waste

“There was a really good variety for everybody in terms of tone and subject matter," states Branch education programs co-ordinator Garry Spotowski (class of 1992, at left) who coordinated the film festival which explored the funny, chilling, and sometimes poignant, sides of waste.

“I have no doubt that everyone who attended REEL Waste now has a new view on waste and our throw away culture.”

As a special treat, volunteers interested in holding their own Film Fest can attend the monthly update training night August 25, which will focus entirely on hosting a movie night, and Patty will share her secret recipe for Perfect Popcorn and Twizzler combinations.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Green up your morning coffee...

Folks who went to the Canmore Folk Fest are talking about the pasta alternative to wood stir sticks.

I mentioned this to my friends at 3 Bananas and their first impression was that food should not be thrown away. This kind of surprised me, but having been raised by people who lived through the depression and then the war I certainly understood that reaction.

(I learned that this coffee house is already doing a bunch of stuff to reduce waste, Bravo!)

Of course, harvesting, transporting, and processing wood is incredibly energy intensive. The pasta option has big environmental and economic benefits, like local products and manufacturing, plus kitsch options like spelling out fashionable words, or bright orange and green Carrot shapes.

Despite the sign in this photo, I don't think the stirring would take long enough to cook the noodle, but hey, if it does, why not make them Biscotti Flavoured and reduce waste even more?!?

Volunteer Opportunity: Talk to your favourite barista about it, and then log your hours under the "Building Awareness..." activity on

Have a great weekend, and don't forget your travel mug!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Reuse those discards before you compost them!

I grow tasty tomatoes every year, and never considered the possibility of reusing the leaves and stems for anything besides compost, but this article in the New York Times has taught me a valuable lesson.

Even corn cobs are full of juicy sweetness and can be used to flavour broth.

While you enjoy the article, I will be gathering tomato scraps...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

New MRF planned for EWMC

C&D Recycling gets automatedAn expansion of the construction and demolition recycling site at the EWMC is currently underway.

A new six stream separation process targeting un-sorted C&D waste is expected to be up and running by this October.

It will include sorting and stockpile areas and feature a new 50m x 80m facility that will use both automated and manual sorting, by a crew of up to 20 City and contracted employees.
The process will produce clean end products that can be marketed or reused in Branch operations.

“The expansion was needed,” states EWMC supervisor of operations Shailesh Modak, who will oversee its operation. “We are being proactive by expanding our facilities to divert mixed C&D waste from landfill.”

C&D waste accounts for a quarter of the total amount of municipal solid waste sent to landfill in Alberta.

Items to be recycled include:

  • metals (ferrous and non-ferrous)
  • asphalt/concrete
  • drywall off-cuts (unpainted)
  • wood (treated and untreated)
  • asphalt shingles
  • cardboard
Last year the Branch accepted over 75,000 tonnes of C&D waste at the EWMC.


Four to seven tonnes of waste (six 12-yard bins) is produced during the construction of an average house.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

We Need Your Worms

Each autumn Laurie and I are busy starting up worm composting bins in grade 4 classes across Edmonton as part of our "Squirmy-Wormy Vermicomposting" presentation. To ensure that we have plenty of worms to give away this September and October I would like to make a call out to all Master Composter Volunteers - Please save us your worms!

If you would like to donate some worms to this deserving cause send me an email or call, I will contact you at the end of the summer to arrange pick up or drop off.

Laura Henderson

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sharing MC/R Inspiration


Just thought that you might like to see this. MC/R grads deserve to know that they inspire...

simple moodlings

Maria K

Friday, June 17, 2011

Down Home Revival

Hi all!

I did indicate that I would endeavour to transform my front yard from lawn to re-usey, gardeny complete-with-compost-bins goodness and some of you were interested in my progress.

Please follow along at my REVIVE page, the photos are in the album “Front Yard Transformation”.

Neil B (class of 2011) was kind enough to arrange a clandestine visit (kidding) to the MRF to scour the Yellow Pages bins and I’ve built the rough drafts of some of my raised beds. Suggestions are always welcome!

I completely appreciate feedback, comments, and advice.

Thanks much!

-Karen P

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Heads, you load...

Refuse Collector Kevin Gall takes a turn at collecting while fellow
Collector Dan Zilinski drives. The vehicle is one of two rear end loaders
in our current waste fleet.

The advantage? - smaller wheel base for ease of access into tight areas plus the obvious - taking turns at the wheel...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Second Nature & Eco Stations good mix

Eco Station attendant Chris Semple hoists a 30 litre bag of Second Nature compost at the Coronation Eco Station.

“Customers love it,” states Coronation Eco Station Foreman Hal Whitford referring to the bagged Second Nature compost available at all three Eco Stations. In fact, customers like the 30 litre bags of compost, which are available for $6 apiece, so much that the Eco Stations are having a hard time keeping the material in stock!
“Some customers will purchase 10 or 15 bags at a time and use it to top dress their lawns or in their flower beds,” says Hal.

This is the second year the Eco Stations have carried the Second Nature compost in the new, stylish bags. The Second Nature compost is produced at the EWMC and is made up of a mixture of residential organic waste and biosolids. The compost is also available in bulk at many local retail outlets.

Check for more information.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Come check out these talks!

There are some great presentations coming up this summer as part of The Way We Green Speakers Series 2011. Upcoming free events include:

Building Capacity: Renewable Energy Potential in Edmonton
Presented by Gordon Howell, P.Eng., Howell-Mayhew Engineering Inc.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
12:10 to 1:00 pm

Transcending Change: Making the Green Transition
Presented by Vik Maraj, Human Relations Specialist,VIKMARAJ Consulting
Tuesday, July 12
12:10 to 1:00 pm

Urban Biodiversity: Oxymoron or Conservation Opportunity?
Presented by Dr. Guy Swinnerton, Professor Emeritus,University of Alberta
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
12:10 to 1:00 pm

The location, unless otherwise specified, is City Hall – City Room (1 Sir Winston Churchill Square).

Bring a friend, your lunch and a refillable mug with you. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

2011 Big Bin Events - coming to a neighbourhood near you!

Depot attendant Miles Curry (class of 2010, at right) helps a customer off-load some material at the May 8th
Big Bin Event.

The year’s Big Bin Events got off to a great start with a steady stream of residents taking in the opportunity to dispose of unwanted large items.

In 2010 the events accepted a whopping 2,202 tonnes of material - the equivalent weight of 174 ETS buses. For dates and locations of the 2011 Big Bin Events visit

Depot attendant Patricia Cuteri directs
customers to the appropriate disposal area at the May 8th event.

THIS WEEKEND - Woodcroft
NEXT WEEKEND - Northlands

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Celebrate Environment Week in Edmonton

On Saturday, June 4 take in an Eco Solar Home Tour. The free tours demonstrate practical and timely examples of sustainability. Follow your own timetable. Homeowners and volunteer will be available to answer questions from noon until 4 p.m., and there’s no pre-registration. Look for more information at

On Sunday, June 5, pack up the family and head to the north Legislative grounds for a fun, informative Environment Week Kick-off event. Everyone ‘caught’ enjoying a waste-free picnic will be given tree seedlings, while supplies last. There’ll be kids eco-games and activities. Take a close look at a mobile air monitoring lab, and check out a hybrid car. Enjoy a fashion show with a ‘re-use’ twist, music and dance. Learn how easy it is to go green at information sessions. Feel the heat generated by the sun through a solar panel. Be part of the launch of Green Shopper Expo and the Edmonton Green Catalogue.

Head down to Churchill Square for Clean Air Day on Wednesday, June 8. Check out the student displays of the Lung Association’s EnviroBlast competition. There’ll be free mechanical bicycle checks, and you can try all sorts of self-propelled locomotion with the Try-it Library. Displays and activities will fill the square from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m., with music, popcorn and excitement.

The following day, June 9, Churchill Square will again be hopping from 4 to 7 p.m. for Gardens and Green Spaces. Learn more about the Community Garden Network, bring the kids to make some interesting crafts, and get tips about food, your garden and biodiversity.

At each of these Environment Week events, your enter to win some super prizes! There’s a total value of over $10,000 in terrific prizes available. You can enter at any of these events, and the draw will be held at the end of Environment Week.

For details about these and more Alberta events during Environment Week, visit the Green Stop website at

For City of Edmonton events, visit

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It’s in the mail...

This year’s Collection Schedule and Urban Recycler have been mailed out to residents instead of being delivered by staff to their homes. Residents should have recieved their calendar and Urban Recycler during May, in a "Sweepstakes" style envelope clearly labelled "IMPORTANT - Open and Keep what is Inside!"

Did you?

Why the change?

Mailing the schedule is more efficient and is now possible because of changes made to the format of both pieces of information.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tips from today's Edmonton Journal

Two things I learned in today's Gardening section:

Steven Biggs says "buying new soil every time it gets hard is like buying a new car every time yours runs out of gas." A brilliant analogy I will use often. Compost, after all, is the fuel that drive plant growth. With Second Nature available at $6 per 30 litre bag, the price at the pump is just 50 cents per litre!

Thomas Christopher gives this wonderful tip about reducing your lawn's carbon footprint: "Once you start mowing do not back up or make turns so tight they require slowing down. Let your mower decide the shape of your lawn and when you are done mowing remove the areas that were not cut." Elimiating little corners and areas we need to go over again and again, either with the mower or whipper, greatly reduces our energy consumption.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

May Outreach Activities Blossom!

Since we graduated our 2011 class, requests for master composter/recycler volunteers have skyrocketed! This weekend will be the third one where we have had at least three outreach events happening at the same time. On both Saturday and Sunday, volunteers are at the Muttart Conservatory promoting composting and grasscycling to visitors to the Annual Plant Sale.

On Saturday we are at City Hall for the Biodiversity Day Event where there will be live music, a puppet show, presentations, workshops and booths. Also, Saturday is the North Glenora Reuse Fair.

On Sunday, besides being at the Muttart Conservatory, we are also at Primavera at Santa Maria Goretti Centre and at the Sherbrooke Stalk Exchange. All three places have plants, seeds, information booths that will help you get ready for the upcoming growing season!

Thanks to all our busy volunteers for helping make these things happen! Even if you are not volunteering, plan to drop by and enjoy one or more of these events!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A successful initiative to beat the Tax Man blues

Hi everybody, I set up this display on Mar 13 at the Fuzhou Association of Alberta. This services centre was open Fridays and Sunday mornings in March for income tax claims.

I talked with people when I went there on Sunday mornings. I might talk with ten people or more. When I was there, I noticed most people would like to have a (quick) look at my display while they were waiting. They seemed only interested in recycling, and showed a general knowledge about recycling; for composting, needless to say, know less and not interested. They usually didn't like to ask questions.

When I engaged some people in conversation, they then began to ask some waste management questions, i.e. where they are supposed to bring batteries, etc.. I met a teacher who teaches Chinese in a school, she was interested and took some pamphlets and Michael Recycle Magnets to share with her students.

Because I work Friday I didn't have chance to visit my display that day, but I was told that many people showed up. There were several small workshops and activities going on in the same place on other days, so there was quite a lot of people traffic over there.

I am confident many people visited my display as 30 recycling bags were all gone, and so were half of the fridge magnets and some pamphlets. I heard Omni Television went there to shoot and interview people for tax event one day. I guess there over 250 people have been to the office in the past month which doesn't include income Tax volunteers.

Well, I guess that's all about my event. Thank you all for your support. Have a good day!


Friday, April 8, 2011

2011 Master Composter/Recycler Class started yesterday!

32 Volunteers and 5 Waste Management Staff met and began their learning journey last night, Thursday April 7th, 2011 at Grant MacEwan University as the 21st Master Composter class in Edmonton. During the introduction exercise, students were happily surprised to find the same enthusiasm and passion for learning more about composting and waste reduction in so many others. Experience in composting ranged from those who were already successful at it to those who wanted to know more. Some had experiences composting abroad, others in their backyards, or in vermicomposting bins. Most of the apartment dwellers were excited about the possibility of helping others in their complexes learn to recycle better. The Waste Management History Show provided lots of colourful pictures and information and kept the class alert and in some cases, laughing. The next class will be Saturday and down at the Fort. Snow on the composting centre's deck nor frozen bins won't deter this hardy group of potential composter "masters". Thank goodness the day will be sunny in the afternoon for the Compost Speed Dating exercise!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Need a New Nametag?

Patty will be ordering nametags for the new graduates in a few weeks. If you have lost your badge, now is the time to get a replacement.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

U-Load Wood Chip Mulch available at OMCN

Old Man Creek Nursery (OMCN) is a small tree nursery where the City Parks Branch grows trees and shrubs for planting in parks and green spaces. They have a pile of shredded wood which they make available to residents at no charge. The material is coarse, but certainly attractive enough for the back yard or the far corners of the front. And did I say FREE?!!
    Next time you see your neighbour bagging their grass clippings, run over and tell them about this secret stash. Tell them how easy it is to get rid of weedy lawn under a layer or organic waste and wood chips, and then plant a few attractive shrubs instead. Point to your own yard and boast about how little work it takes and how good it looks!
    The Details:

  • Location: 2km north of Hwy 16 on RR231 (3.5km past the Meridian Street (EWMC) overpass, towards Greenland Garden Centre); GPS 53.59,-113.27 see photo.
  • Open: Workdays, 7am - 2pm 

  • Conditions:

  • Phone ahead, 780 467 4222 to ensure availability and accessibility.  It can be muddy in any weather.
  • Check in at office (to your left) upon arrival to ensure safety.

  • NOTE: You must load by hand - this is not for contractors.

    Mulch is great for the soil, reuses waste, and reduces yard maintenance. Kids will love hunting bugs in its fragrant, living biomass. It also makes you yard look great!

    Friday, April 1, 2011

    Branch Manager gets Vehicle Stuck in Snow

    Early this morning, Waste Branch Manager Roy Neehall got his vehicle stuck in a windrow outside his home.

    The snow pile was left behind by a neighbour also leaving to work for the City of Edmonton. Transportation Operations Manager Brice Stephenson insists it was not intentional. The two neighbours are on friendly terms, and often "Buddy Up" their garbage and recycling.

    After shovelling himself out, Neehall was able to collect his full route before arriving at his office on time.


    Hope you are having a wonderful April Fool's Day! Here in the offices we are having a lot of laughs at each other's expense, but that is one of the benefits of working with some of the best people around!

    Here is our Favourite Gag for 2011 - share yours in the comments, and have a great weekend!

    : )

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011

    Renew, Restore, and Refresh at the Edmonton Home and Garden Show

    A big THANK YOU to all MCRP volunteers who helped out at the 2011 Home and Garden Show at the Edmonton Expo Centre!! This years event had a nice twist in order to embrace the show theme of Renew, Restore, and Refresh. The Waste Branch teamed up with Linda Bodo who upcycles items heading to the landfill into functional home décor. Some of you may have met Linda at the November volunteer conference in a workshop creating chandeliers from water bottles and chicken wire. I currently have one of these masterpieces hanging in my kitchen with pride. Check out Linda’s website: Thanks again! Laura Henderson (1 of the 3 Program Specialist)

    WARNING: Sciency, Financial stuff

    RouteSmart software optimizes waste collection routes

    In order to better manage the routing challenges faced by its growing fleet of waste collection vehicles, the branch has begun using a new planning software called RouteSmart.

    The route-optimizing tool works with the existing Geographical Information System (GIS) data being used to map waste collection.

    “This tool will help distribute the workload evenly among the trucks,” said Engineering Technologist Mark Demers. “We’re taking into account the number of stops and the distance traveled when we sequence the routes.”

    RouteSmart can map out the most efficient travel routes for streets and pickup stops, thereby minimizing travel time and increasing fuel savings.

    The software has been tested in a limited number of collection beats by staff in order to calibrate its performance and set benchmarks.

    “We’re going out there and trying to identify all the possible barriers to the most efficient routes,” said Collector Carl LeFabvre. “For example, on some streets or alleys we can only go one way, or there may be a telephone pole blocking access.”

    The collectors feedback and the gathered software data is now being tested to enhance the efficiency of the projected routes.

    Collectors will soon be able to use the new RouteSmart maps to navigate collection routes more efficiently, saving time and money.

    We'll be back Friday with something fun.

    Monday, March 28, 2011

    Non-Residential Collection Update

    The Non-Residential Collection Service officially kicked off in 2010.

    The Branch has a four-year plan to influence the diversion of nonresidential waste from landfills. “We want to establish a financially sustainable influencing presence in the collection of waste and recyclables from the commercial sector” said Non-Residential Collection Supervisor Katrina Donner.

    Since the service began last June, the focus has been on creating awareness and actively promoting the program to businesses and institutions.

    Through the efforts of the Non-Residential Collection staff, Edmonton's commercial sector is becoming increasingly interested in participating in our waste management programs.

    Saturday, March 26, 2011

    What to do on a spring day...

    Don’t Slip Up This Spring
    March 23, 2011

    ATCO Gas, Canada Post and the City of Edmonton are asking Edmontonians to stay vigilant and continue to clear snow and ice from sidewalks and other areas around their property this spring.
    Spring weather can cause snow to melt and run onto sidewalks during the day, only to freeze again at night. These freeze-thaw cycles create slippery conditions for everyone, especially people that provide valuable services to homeowners – like meter readers, waste collectors and mail carriers.


    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    Wanna Catch a Movie?

    It's too snowy this weekend for planting potatoes, so why don't we meet up at the Princess on Saturday for in informal social event, and catch the matinée of Waste Land?

    It has won many "People's Choice" awards and should be brilliant! To show you are a MC/R Grad, pin something to your coat that you can take to the Reuse Centre!

    If you prefer to stay home, check out this post on Greg's blog about the film "The Garbage Warrior". I think it showed at Reel Waste a few years ago, and now you can watch it on line.

    See you at the movies!

    Laurie and Mark