When I started the Master Composter Recycler program, I didn’t know that I would learn so much more than recycling. Part of the program’s objective is to teach people not only to reduce waste but to also reuse. Composting is also part of reusing your food, yard waste and animal waste to turn it into food for the plants. Most importantly compost gives organic matter back to the earth and helps plants fight disease. It is a natural alternative to pesticides and herbicides.
I was so surprised when I began to learn more and more about different ways of composting. There is so much to learn! One could write a book about this stuff….just like fellow Edmontonian Suzanne Lewis. Her book ‘Composting for Canada’ is quite handy and worth picking up if you’re considering composting.
There are so many ways of composting and you can decide what works for you, depending on your living conditions and whether you want your system indoors or outdoors, seasonally or all year round. In making your decision, you have to take into consideration the climate, especially the winters in Edmonton.
The City of Edmonton does a great job of composting the waste that its own residents produce. You can buy compost from the City. If you think about it, what you are paying for is the waste you threw away. So perhaps it’s time you started your own composting.
Compost toilet at John Janzen Nature Centre
Compost processing system under the toilet
A good place to start is the John Janzen Nature Centre where they hold composting workshops. You can use the compost toilet while you are there. Happy Composting!
There have been a few times that I have thrown away something either in the garbage or recycling but was left with a feeling that its purpose or job wasn’t yet done. I often get this kind of feeling when something still looks new and I always wish I knew someone who would want to use it. So I must say it was quite exciting to find out about Re-Use Centres in Edmonton.
This is where you can bring all kinds of stuff that is in good condition for others to re-use. So if you have things that are in good condition but you no longer have need for them, you can take it to the Re-Use Centre.
I took a trip to one of the centres with the Master Composter Recycler group. I can tell you that it was like finding a treasure box. I started getting ideas just looking at all kinds of stuff in there; arts and craft materials, puzzles, vinyl records, board games, tiles, trophies etc.
For example, I could use the trophies as a form of recognition in a workshop program that I am planning for young people. It would be quite affordable to be able to do something special like that. You can pay five dollars ($5.00) to pick up to 50kg worth of stuff or if you are a non-profit organisation that uses the service often, you can pay fifty dollars ($50.00) for 25 visits per year.
You only pay when you take things from the Re-Use Centre but you don’t pay to drop off the stuff you no longer need. Not everything is accepted at the Re-Use Centre though. The Re-Use Centre has a list of accepted items and as for the rest of the stuff, the Re-Use Directory can give you a guide of organisations that would be happy to give certain things a stretch of life. http://www.edmonton.ca/programs_services/garbage_waste/reuse-centre.aspx
This is truly an example of how one’s garbage is another’s treasure. I think it’s important that before you throw anything away, you should ask yourself if it’s for Recycle or Reuse. Recycling is manufacturing a material into new products but Re-Use involves no processing at all, the items just change owners/users and sometimes, roles.
Imagine if you were that item and your owner no longer needed you. Would you prefer to get crushed and melted and lose your form or would you rather be taken by a new owner who treasures you and gives you a life you deserve, to serve your purpose of what you were made to do?
So if you are getting rid of stuff at home or office, think “RE-USE.” There’s even a place that will take used building materials. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that your door knob that is still in a good condition has gone on to adorn another family’s home at an affordable price?
If you don’t live in a place that has a Re-Use Centre, may be you can plan a Re-Use Fair at a community centre. I know that the City of Edmonton has grants that you can apply for whether as an individual or community league. You could get up to $500 to help organise your Re-Use fair.
With weather warming up, I am finally feeling confident that there won’t be any snow storm surprises in Edmonton. Which means it’s time to spruce things up. Sprucing things up is different for everyone. For some, it may be picking new clothing items for their wardrobe, changing hairstyles, repainting a house, buying new furniture or simply turning your place inside out for thorough cleaning. It seems this time of the year brings out a need for renewal and rejuvenation. I am definitely going to spruce up the deck, make it cozy enough to stay out all day and have dinner outside or invite friends over for drinks and good conversation.
There are many changes that people make this time of the year and that is why it’s during this time that the City of Edmonton collects the highest volume of garbage. One would think the high volume of garbage stems from all the renovations and old stuff we throw away to make way for the new. However, the main culprit is grass from lawn mowing. Grass from mowing becomes a huge burden to the City of Edmonton’s Waste Management. In the summer, about 40% of all residential waste is grass. Each collector picks up waste from about 700 homes each day. When garbage collection goes up, it also costs more. This is why the City of Edmonton is encouraging residents to go bagless this summer. That means you leave your grass clippings on the lawn. You’ll be “grasscycling.”
Besides reducing waste and costs, grasscycling will also make your lawn happy. The basic rule is to mow often and high. Try to mow no more than one-third of the grass blade at one time. There are two reasons for mowing high.
Mowing is like pruning a plant. It is healthier to cut only a small part of the plant at one time. This keeps the plants from going into shock. Grass can take a lot of shock, but it will not thicken while it recovers.
Mowing high helps the grass out-compete weeds like clover and dandelion.
If you decide to grasscycle, keep your mower blade sharp. A dull blade shreds the grass and can cause moisture loss, slow recovery and brown tips.