Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Compost Tribute to Service & Sacrifice

In June, 2015, Edmontonians laid hundreds of flowers at police stations and memorials in honour of Constable Daniel Woodall. Following the funeral services, the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) searched for a respectful way to deal with these tributes.

So began a unique project of service, sacrifice, and compost.

Lorraine Cramer, Public Affairs Supervisor for EPS, explains that "Edmontonians offered a visible show of support for the Woodall family, leaving flowers as a mark of respect at police stations across the city. We thought that composting them and using that compost would be a special way to acknowledge these offerings."

EPS staff collected the mass of flowers and delivered it to the Compost 'S cool - a compost education site at John Janzen Nature Centre.

Sheridan Sigstad, Compost Educator for the City of Edmonton's Waste Management Services, helped mix the flowers with other organics in a designated compost bin and watered them. The bin was marked with a blue ribbon to fit with the Blue Ribbon Campaign.

"Throughout the summer, volunteers and visitors at Compost 'S cool saw our bin with the blue ribbon, and we explained its significance. Then we asked them to help by watering, fluffing, and contributing other greens. It was nice to see this process because hundreds of volunteers and visitors got to contribute to this memorial," said Sigstad. "I think they felt honoured to be part of this project."

The three bags of finished compost were presented to Sergeant Steve Sharpe at Police Headquarters in downtown Edmonton.
Presenting the special bags were Mark Stumpf-Allen, the City's Compost Programs Coordinator and volunteer Aurea S. - a Master Composter Recycler.

The Edmonton Police Service intends to use the finished compost as part of memorial services in the future.

Sgt. Steve Sharpe received the finished
compost at Police Headquarters.

See also: In Memory of Constable Daniel Woodall

A Special Compost Recipe

The bouquets were mostly stems and boughs. Extra materials was added to encourage quick decomposition over the summer.

Shredded leaves filled spaces and held moisture, while fresh greens like fruit peels and grass clippings fed the bacteria to get the process working.

Water helped the bacteria flourish, while fluffing added oxygen to keep the bin smelling like forest soil after rain.

How to Host a Wasteless Office Holiday Potluck

It's the middle of November. That means it's the time of the year for office holiday parties - and many of them will be potlucks.

With that, the inevitable waste will follow: paper cups, plastic utensils, disposable dollar store decorations, store-bought food in disposable plastic packaging, leftover Timbits, and more...
But with a bit of planning and these handy tips, your office party can be different!
  • TIP 1: Ask someone to bring in cloth napkins, dishes, or cutlery from home.
    It's good for the environment, and someone will be happy to do that instead of cooking.
  • TIP 2: Ask someone to bring holiday decorations from home.
    Avoid buying last minute decorations from the dollar store. Decorations borrowed from home will be much more beautiful, and nothing will be wasted!
  • TIP 3: Ask someone to make punch in a large bowl.
    Avoid individual juice boxes or cans of pop. Iced tea or hot chai are other good options that can be made in large quantities, and served in carafes or pitchers, without creating waste.   
  • TIP 4: Allow everyone to opt out of cooking for a small fee ($10).
    The person in charge can buy extra food if necessary. If there's money left over, it can be donated to a charity. Most of the time, there is too much food anyways!
  • TIP 5: Ban store-bought contributions.
    Between Tips 1-4 and cooking something, everyone should be able to find a way to contribute without creating waste.
Do you have other tips for creating less waste at holiday parties? Share them in the comments!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

MORE Solar-Powered Waste Bins in Edmonton

The City introduced four new solar-powered waste bins, in September 2015.
Credit: Shaughn Butts,
Edmonton Journal (October, 2012)
About the size of a mailbox, these Bigbelly waste bins are an exciting addition to Edmonton streets. They:
  • automatically compact waste inside
  • send a message to Collections staff when full
  • are self-powered by solar panel on top
  • eliminate wind-blown litter
  • have side panels for promotion
Five of these bins were unveiled in October, 2012, and have performed well.

The bins compact the waste inside. They can hold up to five times the waste of a standard litter basket. Then the bin send a message to staff when it is full. This means fewer vehicle trips to empty the bins AND avoids overflowing bins.

That works out to excellent savings over the bin's lifespan. These are a good solution for locations with lots of pedestrian traffic.

Bigbelly waste bins on Whyte Avenue. (September, 2015)
Check out this demo.
Note: Versions in Edmonton do not have cigarette containers.