Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tracy's Timely Tips for Taste and tidiness

Hey MCRP volunteers,
Just a thought (and I've been doing this for years) - how about bringing your own container with a lid and your own utensils to The Taste of Edmonton and other festivals?

Not only can you bring your doggy bag home with you to eat leftovers, you won't be forced to finish all on your plate. It will also save many plastic/paper plates and cutlery.

My kids have also been trained to pick up any bottles/cans or containers that have deposits on them, and when they get returned, they get spending money. We average about $20 every 2 weeks, which keeps them happy and also cleans our parks/neighbourhood.

Tracy R-A

Compost Garden Party – A Hit!

I attended the first Compost Garden Party put on by the Composting Council of Canada at the Edmonton Food Bank. It was held to celebrate 10 years of the Plant a Row/Grow a Row program and the 29th birthday of the Food Bank.

Touring with Susan Antler across Canada is a new enthusiastic and talented band called Jane’s Party. They performed very lively, cross-generational music that made you want to get up and dance.

We got to sit on our lawn chairs and listen to great music while we were treated to bunwiches, chips, fresh blueberries, cold drinks, and a tour of the Food Bank.

I didn’t realize how large and efficient the Food Bank’s facility is and how many different items it collects and distributes. Before this, all I had seen was the drop-off area where we brought our produce from our Food Bank Garden at the EWMC to be weighed. It is one of the largest in Canada!

The Food Bank, besides being a monthly emergency source of groceries, also educates and directs its clients to grocery wholesalers that are very economical. They also refer clients to the community kitchen program to learn additional skills - they prepare 3 nutritious meals for only $8.00 that they can take home. Also, clients are directed to the more convenient pick-up locations in their local neighbourhoods. Approximately 80% of the workers at the Food Bank are volunteers, without whom the Food Bank would not be able to function.

Watch for this Compost Garden Party next year – we’ll give you more notice. It was so much fun!

Karen LC

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Engaging the Public and Changing Behaviour

How do you know your efforts lead to real and on-going change?

Check out the short blog entry on how to get a firm committment from people (click on blog title) and put these three tips to work.
These will be especially valuable to people active in Community Garden and Transition Town models.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

More about Biofuels

If last Thursday's post about thermo-chemical conversion got you curious about how Enerkem processes waste to fuel, you can visit their website and find out more. click the title and see the process explained!

Step 1 - the pre-treatment of feedstock (aka garbage) involves turning the garbage into what we call 'fluff', pictured here.

What is the most confusing part of this process when you are discussing it with people?

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Perfect Gift

If you are doing some shopping this weekend make sure to add a few bags of Second Nature yard waste compost to your list.

They are available at all three Eco Stations, as well as select retailers. Click on the title to see the complete list of outlets.

Then get ready to squish your toes around the greenest lawn on the block!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

New Look!

Deven has given our blog a new look!

What do you think of it, and what has been your favourite post so far?

All comments get entered to win a Starbucks card.

Speaking of Biofuels...

In yesterday's Globe and Mail, Megawheels writer Michael Vaughan wrote about "Greening Our Vehicles" through the use of Ethanol.

For those of you (well, and a few others) who have a hard time discussing this process with folks we meet, this will help. Here is a teaser from the article:

"...who would object if we produced the vast quantities of ethanol we need from good, old garbage?
That’s the promise of cellulosic ethanol. Cellulose is the non-food carbohydrate that forms the cell wall in most plants – trees, grass, corn, whatever. What an endless source of the stuff we have in our garbage stream.
Once you take out the recyclables – mostly metals – you’ve got cellulose aplenty. Tear down a house – more cellulose. Gather up wood chips and bark at a mill, collect agricultural waste, plant switch grass or miscanthus (grasses) on land that won’t grow anything else – and cellulose will never be in short supply.
My explanations are a trifle on the simplified side – consider the source – but there are basically two ways to turn cellulose into ethanol. There’s the biological approach and the thermo-chemical approach."

To read the entire article, click the title above.
and watch for the groundbreaking ceremony on the new facility this Autumn.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Scary Business

A woman just called our office because she was terrified of small white things crawling on her compost.
She sprayed her bin down with bleach, and then called me (she had taken a workshop) to say she wanted to get rid of her bin.
What would you tell her to do? How would you approach this situation.

Tell us by leaving a comment. Next week I will tell you what I told her.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Upcoming Conference for MCR Volunteers

Master Composter Recycler volunteers are being asked to "SAVE THE DATE" for November 6, 2010.
To further commemorate our 20th Anniversary, we are hosting a one-day conference for all volunteers, past and present, that will inspire you to re-connect to the program and re-new your commitment to volunteer!
Many workshops are being planned and developed that will be informative, educational, and motivating.
We look forward to presenting this day of learning to you, and especially hope to see volunteers who we have lost touch with come out and re-engage with the MCR program!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Nitty Gritty about Electronics Recycling

There have been many news reports and videos exposing the electronics recycling industry, usually shedding light on the irresponsible dumping that North America and other over-consuming areas of the world practice.

I have
read and seen a fair bit on this issue and would like to encourage you, fellow electronics-user, to check out the latest video that I have come across. It was passed on to me by one of its producers, my friend Jodie who is a journalism grad student at UBC. Her and her classmates produced this 20 minute video and it was aired on PBS Frontline. Yesterday, they were nominated for an Emmy Award!

Click on the link to see the video "Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground":

The sidebar on the PBS site has some good resources: how to find less toxic products, how to choose a durable electronic,
environmental report cards from the big electronics producers, how to effectively clear your hard drive before recycling, how to find recyclers you can trust.

Unfortunately, the info is US-based so here is some info for Canada, and specifically Alberta.

Our electronics can be dropped off at one of the 260 municipal collection sites (such as Edmonton's Eco Stations) in Alberta. From these collection sites, electronics are transported to one of the 6 registered electronics processors (Eco Stations transfer to GEEP)
where they are dismantled into its component parts (circuit boards, metals, plastics, wires and glass). This is the important part, because there are many unregistered recyclers in Alberta. While many may be doing legitimate, responsible recycling, many are not. Some are contributing to the horrible dumping overseas.

On the policy side, neither Canada nor the USA have ratified the four international treaties regulating e-waste. The main ones,
the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes (1989) together with the Basel Ban Amdendment (1995), effectively ban hazardous waste exports from OECD countries to all other countries. Together, these two policies have been ratified by 68 countries
(as of June 20 2010). Canada has refused to ratify the convention and, although it is illegal to export e-waste to developing countries, Environment Canada continues to find shipments of e-waste in major ports heading overseas due to poor enforcement (eg. 2002, 2006, 2007 (p.11)). In addition, Canada allows processors to ship e-waste to brokers in the USA, where there are no laws against shipping e-waste. In the words of CBC's Patrick Brown, "If dumping e-waste were an Olympic sport, Canada would win a silver medal. The United States gets the gold."

Alberta was the first Canadian province to enact e-waste legislation in 2004. Canada introduced a
national recycling program in 2006. This year, the Basel
Action Network created a rigorous program which certifies recyclers who use only globally responsible, safe means to process e-waste (i.e. no disposal in landfills or incinerators, no prison labor, and no export to poor communities).

The program is called e-Stewards, and to date only two Canadian companies have been certified: Redemtech in Alberta and Free Geek Vancouver in British Columbia. For another excellent video overview of why the e-Stewards program is necessary, click here. "People who care must insist on this level of accountability."

I would like to see GEEP and all the registered recyclers in Alberta (and Canada!) to get the e-Stewards certification. This may finally put my heart at ease.

July 27 Update: I was happy to learn from Connie that GEEP is in fact going through the process of getting e-Steward certification! I knew from the many tours inside of their Edmonton facility that they run an excellent operation, and I know they will be able to achieve certification.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Waste Branch Staff Can't Thank You Enough!

Waste Management staff had a blast creating a reuse thank you sign for volunteers over their lunch hour. This sign was made to honour volunteers at the 20th Year Celebration Event on June 23.

What Has Been Your Coolest Project?

We are compiling data of as many volunteer projects and activities that we can find for a publication we are creating called the "Volunteer Idea Guide". The purpose of the guide is to create one place where volunteers can go to get ideas for continuing their volunteer work. It will also be a good archiving tool. Volunteers are being asked to tell us what cool volunteer activities they have been a part of, in particular, we are interested in hearing about self-directed activities since those activities may be something we may not have documented! Each activity you submit will count as an entry into a draw for a family pass to the Devonian Botanic Garden. The draw will be made on July 29. The publication will be available on-line in the fall.

Friday, July 2, 2010