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

Spring must be here,

... because our volunteers are out at the Home and Garden Show encouraging folks to Green up their lives with a little bit of 3R advice and a free blue bag.

Drop by and introduce yourself!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Collectors Keep It Safe

While the past couple of months have been very challenging with regards to adverse weather conditions, all frontline staff are to be commended for keeping their focus on safety.

Collectors have had to deal with the usual winter challenges navigating narrow, rutted alleys for back lane collection, but this year provided new road blocks (literally) to safe and efficient collection on front streets.

Injury rates continue to move downwards, and this clearly shows that staff are keeping their eyes and mind on task at all times.

Thanks also to residents who ensured snow and ice were at a minimum around their bins.

The City is committed to the health and wellness of its employees, collectors are keeping safety in mind, and residents support their city workers by considering collector's needs and timely attention to collector safety. With these groups working together we will never know how much the winter of 2011 might have cost us in injuries, lost time and insurance.

Well done!

I challenge any top athlete to climb a pile of ice chunks, pick up a dynamic 20kg load, turn around, and gracefully throw it into a one metre wide space, and do it again 299 times, and then do it again tomorrow!

...ok, the grace is optional.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tours of EWMC in High Demand

Requests for tours of the EWMC continues to grow with 2010 seeing
462 tours of the EWMC and 69 presentations delivered – a 13%
increase over 2009. This included 10,345, students and 4,250 adults
and parents from diverse groups such as seniors, government agencies
and private sector organizations.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

First Reuse Fair of the year is only 4 weeks away!

Renée is still finalizing these dates, but here is a sneek peak at this year's Reuse Fair line up:

April 17 Beacon Heights
May 7 Strathcona
May 14 North Glenora
May 28 Queen Alexandra
June 11 King Edward Park

The confirmed list will be posted by April 4 on the Reuse webpage.

Aah, summertime, blue skies, and Reuse Fairs, ...I can almost hear the Robin's sing!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Enjoy Being Green!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Enjoy being "green" and take credit for those sustainable actions you do! We appreciate all your efforts!

Spring is coming, in spite of the snow so take in some of the activities that are happening soon:

Earth Hour - 7:15 at Churchill Square - turn off your power from 8:30 - 9:30 p.m. on Sat. March 26th.

Seedy Sunday - Sunday, March 20th from at the Alberta Avenue Community League at 9210 - 118 Avenue.

Home and Garden Show next weekend - March 24- 27th.


Tell your families/friends about the Assisted Waste Collection service, especially those who might have mobility issues and have difficulty getting their garbage out to the curb or back lane with the snow and icy conditions. The Branch has 175 persons signed up so far. People can call 311 or go onto the City of Edmonton website at and search "assisted" to sign up.
Til next time....

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Speaker's series presents "Climate Change"

Heather W (class of 2003) emailed me with some information on upcoming Green events. One of the surest signs of spring is the huge bump in the number of local environmental activities.
Now before you all send me links to every clean air, fresh water, and cloth diaper event please remember that I can only blog about those that are in some way related to YOU, our Waste Branch Volunteers.

There are a few things to mention here, so I am just providing links and you can decide which to check out.

First, some background:
From the city's vision "Transforming Edmonton" came the strategic plan "The Way Ahead" which is broken down into 5 Ways - The Way We Live, Grow, Move, Finance, and Green.

On The Way We Green page:
March 23: Climate Change,
March 14-28: Climate Trail Display,
The Way We Green project videos,
and Links to discussion papers, videos, surveys, up-to-date information and policy advice, the integrative plan diagram of the whole process, and opportunities to comment on all positions.

When you discuss these issues with friends and neighbours, log your hours under the Building Awareness... activity.

Thanks Heather, and yes, I won't forget Earth Hour coming up next weekend!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Run Wild!

Volunteers who have helped out at the John Janzen Nature Centre have probably met folks from the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society, one of our partnering organisation involved with programs at the Nature Centre.

WRS volunteers rehabilitate injured wildlife, and often bring animals to special events to call attention to our everyday impacts on our natural areas, including litter and HHW disposal.

Check out their fun run on April 3!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Be Inspired by a Canadian Icon...

Please post on the blog, this might be of interest to the group.
David Suzuki, scientist, educator, broadcaster and activist, delivers what he describes as 'a last lecture' interwoven with scenes from his life and lifetime. Sunday March 13 at 8 pm on CBC-TV, repeating Sunday April 3 at 10 pm ET/PT on CBC News Network

Thanks Tracy. I remember as a youth watching "The Nature of Things" on CBC. It is one of the things that started me on my journey of leaving this planet cleaner than I found it.

Remembering the effect that those programs had on me, I am not surprised that today I am a near-ganic, flexitarian, waste reducing, proponent for social shift.

Ya' know, it was not until University, when I began having face-to-face conversations with real people, that I was motivated to act. As inspired as I was by Suzuki, it was one-on-one conversation that led me to make a public committment to change.

I hope each of us realizes that we can be just as powerful an agent for change as he is; our small efforts can and do change lives.

Your email also led me to discover that I can watch shows again online!
Be INSPIRED by an Icon, and then INSPIRE like an MC/RV!

Terracotta bins hit the shelves in India

Terracotta would never survive our winter, but it may be just the thing for composting all kinds of waste on the Indian subcontinent.

Did I say ALL kinds of waste? Yes, the family adds meat and dairy, and can even empty their chamber pots here. The material's unique ability to breathe, as well as the shape and volume, can achieve the high temperature needed to destroy most pathogens.

These would be just the thing for New Zealand, where disaster has destroyed much of the sewage system.

The bins on their own are beautiful , and can be painted or stained to fit perfectly into anyone's outdoor décor. The planted tray below the vessle is a beautiful way to collect and use G-Juice too!

Learn more on Treehugger and read Poonam's comments on the design on Daily Dump.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Passive Solar Greenhouse

Just thought I’d pass this along to the Master Composters. I missed the last solar greenhouse presentation.

The Solar Energy Society of Alberta has embarked on a design Charette on solar greenhouses. Members have gone to China to visit their greenhouses and are currently working with the Alberta and Sask governments and others. The China solar greenhouse generally consist of double poly on the south exterior and a brick wall on the north exterior. They are simple, inexpensive and easy to build.

- Brian

image of passive Solar collection from I Dream of Architecture

Thanks Brian. I have known for many years of the benefits of passive solar (my composter in a sunny, sheltered spot works year-round), but after seeing The Ways at City Hall I have been considering adding a greenhouse to an unused portion of my yard south of the garage.
I have been considering a row of dark-coloured rain barrels along the north wall to retain heat - do you think this would work as well as masonry and earth?

Here is information from Brian about the next Solar Energy Society meeting. It is in two weeks; plan to be there early and save me a seat!

T’Sou-ke First Nation
The Most Solar-Intensive Community in Canada
Chief Gordon Planes Andrew Moore – Project Director
Wednesday March 23, 7:00pm MacEwan University CN Theatre Rm 5-142

Following a year-long visioning process the T’Sou-ke community embarked on a programme to achieve energy autonomy, economic self-sufficiency and food sustainability while utilizing the ancient wisdom and skills still available within First Nations communities. Their on-going achievements include three solar electric systems totaling 75kW, thirty eight residential solar hot water systems, and an ambitious energy efficiency programme along with indigenous plant propagation and food-producing greenhouses. In the process of building these many projects the T’Sou-ke First Nation has trained many young people in the solar and sustainability trades and inspired many other communities to follow their lead.

Free, no reservations necessary. Seating is first come, first served. Free refreshments
Further info: go to: (click on Seminars)

Monday, March 7, 2011

New use for Garbage Juice

Excess water in a compost system leads to unpleasant smells, lower quality compost, and (in very high quantities) pollutes groundwater.

The Envirocycle Tumbler has a base that collects excess moisture (when the unit is upright) in its base. This 'garbage juice' is full of nutrients and organic matter that can be diluted and used to water plants or add back to the pile.

Unfortunately, when organic liquid is left to sit, microbes consume the organic matter, and the oxygen along with it, leading to smells and creating a breeding place for mosquitoes.

The Wizard Hybrid tumbling composter connects to your downspout and has a larger reservoir for collecting and diluting G-Juice.

With rain mixing into the reservoir below the compoting tumbler, it freshens itself with every rain shower. This design will reduce the likelihood of smell and mosquito issues, and is uber-cool to boot!

The issue still remains about how to get the liquid out of the reservoir; someone ingenious would rig up a siphon system using material from the Reuse Centre.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Join the Master Composter/Recycler Program

Edmonton Residents are invited to apply to become a Master Composter/Recycler - an ambassador of the Waste Management Branch, and a Champion for Waste Reduction.

More information about the Program can be found on our webpage.

Sign up by Monday, March 7, 2011!

Employment Opportunity of Interest

The new organisation made up of the people who brought you Just Food Edmonton, city-farm, Little Green Thumbs, and the Community Garden Network is seeking an Executive Director.

Check out the posting on the Community Garden Blog!