Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Peek Inside the 2013 MCR Summer Social

We spent Sunday with the sun,
the showers,
and fellow
Master Composter Recyclers.

Rodney took time to thank everyone that attended. He stressed that every conversation started around waste is a valuable way to contribute. It is a way to reach people who may not think about collectors when they set our their garbage, or understand how important it is to leave grass clippings on the lawn. Rodney also discussed feedback we've received about changing the name of the Master Composter Recycler program.

Some civilized folks chatting until the end of the day...

and then we let loose.

We had some young visitors.
Thanks to Heather S and Yoshie N for their hard work on the grill. The Bring-Your-Own-Salad bar was a colourful mix of beans, greens, reds, and yellows. Thanks to everyone who contributed from their garden and fridge. We would have gone home hungry without you.

We took a few photos for our website and brochures. Thanks to the photographer (Marlee U), artistic director (Mark SA), and subjects (Colleen, Chris, Kaitlyn, Kristin, Robyn, and more).

Future composters explore an Earth Machine compost bin. 
Colleen and Chris can teach you how to turn garbage into compost! 
Showing us how to use compost in planters. 
Thinking about our waste...
Heather and Ella sitting with the garbage from the Summer Social (both from planning the event and at the event itself). We always make an effort to reduce our waste but let's do even better next time! 
All in all it was a beautiful day. 
Thank you to everyone who join us (and all those who were with us in spirit).

Watch for the Volunteer Recognition Event on October 2!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Stop to Chat with Ella

Ella is doing a fabulous job as our Summer Compost Educator. Folks can learn to compost by visiting the Compost Education Centre (JJNC) on Saturdays and Sundays. She will also be there on Fridays and Mondays. We asked her some questions to see what makes her tick:

What are you the most proud of from your work this summer?

Before I talk about what I’m proud of in this job, I would just like to say that I’m incredibly honoured to be working for the City of Edmonton. My colleagues in Waste Management Services are very dynamic and forward-thinking, and have not ceased to stretch and challenge me in new ways.
In terms of visible accomplishments, I am most proud of maintaining the garden and floral displays at the John Janzen Nature Centre - I can watch how plants grow with the help of compost, daily!

What kind of questions do you get from people who visit the site?

I get a lot of crazy questions at the Compost Education Centre, but some of the most common ones are:
  • How long does it take to compost something? This one is a bit tricky because people want a simple answer. However, as any experienced composter knows, it’s never the same! I usually tell people that it can take anywhere between three months and five years; it’s up to them how long it takes.
  • What is the best kind of compost bin to get? When I get this question, I begin my answer by asking some questions of my own about the amount of waste the visitor wants to compost, how much time they have to turn the compost, and whether they want it done quickly. All of these factors allow me to make a recommendation.
  • How do I get started? That one’s easy, because the answer is always the same: greens, browns, water, air!

When you visit the site, let us know if you do any maintenance work
in this log book. That way we can properly thank you for your time!

Check out this map to learn what Ella has planted around the site.
What’s your favourite story from your work with Mark?

It’s hard to settle for one specific Mark story (there are just so many), but there is one ongoing saga that comes up the most often: Mark’s love affair with lattes. Of course I enjoy lattes as well, so Mark and I will often get one while out running errands. Recently, things have progressed so far that Mark and I will try to interpret the colour patterns in the milk foam. Although it’s not quite like reading tea leaves, it comes close to it in artfulness and imagination.
Ella has lots of examples of worm composting to show visitors.
She also encourages picnickers to compost their food scraps. 

How many people have you spoken to at the Compost Education Centre?

According to our stats, I've spoken to over 450 people, so far, this summer.

Ella is very comfortable helping residents find
a way to compost that fits their lifestyle. 

Do you have any tricks to engage people walking by the site?

The key to engaging any guest is offering them something, be it an activity, a demonstration, or just some attention. The most effective way of bringing families in is to play a game with the kids or to offer an encounter with our Red Wigglers. Adults without children can be more difficult to engage, but if they have any interest in composting, it usually works to be friendly and approach them. I offer to answer questions and encourage them to interact with the compost bins we have on site.

Thank you to Ella for sharing your experience with us. Remember to stop by, and say hello to her this summer! As you can see, Ella is happy to answer questions.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Edmonton "Leaves It On The Lawn"

Myles shared his passion with a presentation at Pecha Kucha Night 16.
(He starts 12 minutes into the video)


Notice the crowd cheer as Myles points out that bagging grass is an outdated behaviour, originating when the first lawn mower was designed with a bag to catch clippings. Times have changed and now people understand that grassclippings are great for lawn health. Over half of Edmonton leaves our clippings on the lawn!

Start a conversation about grasscycling with your friends, they can enter a draw to win a mulching mower at

You may notice our summer street crew in
your neighbourhood, we'll tell you
about their role sometime soon.
You can ask for a lawn sign at