Friday, December 14, 2012

Have yourself a merry little MCR Holiday by MCR Suzanne Dennis

Christmas is just around the corner! How did THAT happen? Seems like just yesterday the 2012 MCR class graduated! 

I LOVE christmas, but HATE garbage. According to Statistics Canada,  900,000 tons of garbage is produced annually between Thanksgiving and Christmas!


Instead of buying more stuff, spending tons of money, and wasting our precious resources try some of these ideas:

keep it local

Save resources and support your friends & neighbours by shopping at local stores; good for the environment & the community.

christmas cards

I don't send or use Christmas cards often, but when I do, I source them from Value Village. There are always bags of unused cards (with their envelopes), hanging on the wall. Never the same selection twice, so it’s kind of fun to see what you can get!  Who doesn’t "love the thrill" of the thrift store search? You can also get used cards from the Reuse Centre!


I rarely use paper to wrap gifts, but if I do need some I source it from the Reuse Centre. It is simply amazing to me what people give away, & remember all you can carry for $5.

reused wrappers

Think outside the box for this one! I haven’t thrown a bag or container away since MCR graduation. 

  • chip/cracker bags turned inside out make fantastic gift bags – shiny & festive
  • any bag that contained foodstuff can be used again to give away homemade goodies….it is sort of fun to give away baking in a large rice bag for example!
  •  jars of all shapes & sizes make great containers for my home-made goodies
  • cool mailing containers from liquor sleeves
  •  coffee cans scavenged from work make a great container once they are painted or papered

re-gifting & thrifting

I have NO PROBLEM re-gifting & thrifting presents for my family & friends.  I do realize this is a personal decision and I will state for the record that I would never re-gift/thrift with anyone and pretend it was new stuff; cuz that just sounds like a SEINFELD episode plot line!  Nothing tickles my fancy more than knowing my re-gift or thrift gift will make someone else happy J  ...and of course its saves me tons of $$$$!


Who needs more stuff anyway? Some of my best Christmas memories have been made while volunteering with family & friends to make someone else’s Christmas special. Collecting donations, serving a meal, and helping at food bank concerts are fun & festive volunteer opportunities.

 christmas light tour

The City of Edmonton has a FANTASTIC program where staff volunteers drive a bus around town to view Christmas light displays at candy cane lane, legislative grounds and the museum. Tickets are only a $3, fun & hi-jinx are free! Depending on the transit volunteers and your fellow passengers you could be involved in a Christmas carol sing-a-long, a stand-up comedy show, or a family style get-together complete with crazy aunts and snoring uncles.  Santa has even been known to make an appearance! Never the same tour twice, and great for all ages and mobilities. Bring your favourite beverage in a to-go cup, grab the gang and book a seat.


I have made a pledge this year to give nothing but consumables. I know how to cook, so I am making foodie foodster gifts. I do wish I could knit, sew, craft, build, write, or carve something, but I will have to leave that you!

share a tree

If you live in a multi-family dwelling do you all need your OWN tree?  Of course you don’t!  Share with your neighbours and friends.  One tree per floor, one tree for the whole building, or better yet NO TREE at all!

reuse a tree

You can also find trees and ornaments at the Reuse Centre. If you don't want to store a tree all year donate it after the holidays and pick up different Reuse Centre tree each year.

 recycle that tree!

If you do have a tree please make sure that it is recycled properly. Did you know: approximately 13,456 trees, weighing 167 tons, were collected for recycling in January 2012. The trees were chipped and composted at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre.
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year – but unfortunately also the most wasteful.

"time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. you can make more money, but you can't make more time. when you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you'll never get back.  that is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time.”
quote from Rick Warren, (author of A Purpose Driven Life – What on Earth am I Here For)

I wish for you a very Happy Holiday, wonderful times with your friends, family & neighbours, and minimal contribution to our landfill. 



City of Edmonton Master Composter Recycler 2012, (#yegmcr) doing my best 2 reuse, recycle, reduce, & compost while I raise my #yeg redworm family!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Compost Crafts - One-Way Worm Elevator By Megan Miller, MCRP 2012

With winter well on its way, and our outdoor compost heap nearly frozen through already, we decided to give our worms a bit more attention. Winter composting outdoors is slow, and while we'll probably still toss quite a bit of kitchen scraps on the pile over the winter, I really want to shift into using indoor compost methods. And that means getting our worms working a bit harder.

Of course, we could hardly expect them to increase their workload under their current living conditions. Nope, these guys need a new home, and I need an easier way to harvest their precious poop. (Ahem. Excrement ) It also needed to be something I could complete in less than an hour.

The One-Way Worm Elevator is born!

The idea is that by stacking containers, one with food, one without, the worms will migrate to the bucket with food in it, and away from the finished compost.

To be fair, I got this idea from a friend, who used much bigger containers, and made three layers, which I'll explain later. Hers is a Luxury Condo for worms. Here's how we made our mid-range version:

1. First, gather all your tools and supplies:

Two nesting buckets, a drill, drill bit and a Lovely Assistant. (Hey, you didn't expect me to operate a drill AND take pictures, did you?)

2. Stack your buckets and start drilling holes in the bottom of the top bucket:

Our bucket looks like this:

3. Make some nice worm bedding for the bottom bucket.

Here, we're ripping up newsprint for “browns,” we also threw in a sprinkle of sand, a handful of garden dirt, and some vegetable peels:

4. Get out your hungry worms. 

I had stopped feeding them a week earlier, hoping to finish off the compost. As you can see there are still plenty of big chunks left, meaning plenty to eat. Regardless, we plowed on with the plan, hopeful.

5. Stack the buckets (the one with holes on TOP!) and dump in your worms:

6. Put on a lid and you're done!

We also drilled holes in the lid, of course, so the worms and compost can both breathe. Making sure enough air can circulate is very important, especially for keeping away smells.

Getting the Compost

In time, the worms will migrate to the bottom bucket, leaving the top one empty of critters. When this happens, the top bucket (finished compost) can be removed and used for compost teas, as fertilizer or mulch for houseplants, lawn conditioner, anywhere you want nutrients in the soil.

After emptying the top bucket, we will take the bottom layer and move it to the top. Holes on top and bottom provide great circulation and the empty bottom bucket can catch any excess moisture drips.

When it looks almost done, we stop feeding the top and bait the bottom bucket, starting over again. This should allow me to continuously add food waste to the worms, and still make harvesting easy-peasy.
A friend of ours has made a three tier tower, with a second bucket with holes. Same idea, rotating fresh and almost-done compost between the top two, but with improved air flow in the middle layer and a bottom bucket to catch excess moisture (which, by the way is an amazing liquid fertilizer).

We did not, however, put on a lid.

Now, remember, the whole point of this craft is to allow the worms to migrate, so that no one has to pick through the finished compost and harvesting becomes easy and guilt-free.

My Lovely Assistant, however, seems to believe our worms need a head start on migration. It started out innocently enough, picking out a few big ones...

But quickly turned into a more serious matter.

Happy winter composting!


Megan Miller is a 2012 grad of the MCR Course. Megan is very interested in re-skilling for sustainability and a large part of that is growing, harvesting and processing her own food. She has also been learning other living skills including leather crafting for clothing, soap making, and sustainable building. Megan and her family have been experimenting with composting for four years.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Eco Stations shifting into winter

All 3 Eco Stations have shifted into winter mode. On November 20th, they changed to winter hours.
Coronation, Strathcona, and Ambleside Eco Stations will be open

  • 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday to Saturday
  • closed on Sunday and Monday

Key Points: Eco Stations

  1. Keep "Household Hazardous Waste" (HHW) out of the garbage, so that it doesn't contaminate the compost process
  2. Eco Stations accept
    • HHW  (e.g. paint, cleaners, solvents)
    • electric & electronic waste  (e.g. batteries, toasters, computers)
    • bulky items  (e.g. sofas, mattresses, fencing)
  3. Most items accepted for free
  4. Residents can get used paint for free  (limit 4 cans per visit, quantity and quality not guaranteed)
  5. Eco Stations also have a Recycling Depot
  6. There is a Reuse Area at Ambleside Eco Station (only).
  7. Eco Stations are for Edmonton residents. (not for commercial, explosive, or radioactive waste)


Friday, November 30, 2012

Digging Through Some Blue Bins

Garry, Mark, Julie, a few kind MRF workers, and myself dug through a load of recyclables on Tuesday. The material came from blue bins along a select route of apartments and condos. Julie organizes this audit every month to find out what people recycle after targeted education.

We found lots of recycles along with things that don't belong such as;

  • an old paper shredder,
  • some scrap metal, and
  • a TV.
Can anyone tell me where these items should have been taken?

Here are some of my favourite photos from the experience. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Biofuels in Edmonton: How does it all work?

The Edmonton Waste-to-Biofuels project enables us to use garbage as a resource. When combined with current recycling and composting initiates we will be able to achieve 90% diversion of waste from landfill. Read on for an overview of what's involved in the process.

Pre-processing (Sorting the garbage)

Garbage is sorted by people and machines into three streams: organic materials for composting; metals for recycling; and non-recyclable, non-compostable waste for conversion into refuse derived fuel. This is done at the Integrated Processing and Transfer Facility(IPTF). Integrated means to combine multiple things into a single unit, and that's exactly what the IPTF achieves. It's a waste transfer operation, a pre-processing operation, and a refuse derived fuel plant all wrapped into one. All residential garbage is taken here and processed.

Refuse Derived Fuel(RDF) Plant (Preparing the feedstock)

Refuse Derived Fuel prepared at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre
The City is responsible for converting waste to RDF, a material less than 2” in diameter which is free of inerts and metals. This will be achieved by a mechanical system that sorts and shreds waste. Keep your eyes peeled for a future blog which will dive into the details of RDF.

Conversion to Biofuels

The Waste-to-Biofuels Facility will convert 100,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste into biofuels annually. It will be built, owned and operated by Enerkem. The process involves heat, pressure, advanced chemistry and the use of cutting-edge catalysts. The RDF is heated up in an environment with little oxygen, this means the material will turn into a gas rather than combust. It has a positive energy balance, since gasification requires less energy than it produces. A significant portion of the water in the system is reused in a closed-loop. The process can be broken down into four steps. Check out for process details.

Enerkem’s 4-step process 

Advanced Energy Research Facility

The AERF is a pilot plant used to test feedstock for conversion into fuel or other green chemicals. The facility welcomes top researchers from Alberta, Canada, and around the world, particularly those specialized in thermo-catalysis. The facility focuses on researching innovative technologies for converting waste to biofuels.
Pilot gasification system at the Advanced Energy and Research Facility


The Waste-to-Biofuels Facility is scheduled to be in operation in 2013 and at full capacity in 2015. The newest addition to the construction project is a 70,000 lb gasifier which is an important part in the process to transform waste into biofuels.
Gasifier for the Waste-to-Biofuels Facility at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre
We look forward to passing on details as we learn more about this exciting project!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Waste Around the World by MCR Lee Davies

Originally, I thought I would write a comparison of how the citizens in different municipalities are exposed to waste management in their respective environments. After doing a little bit of research and reading, I discovered it is so much deeper than educating the masses about waste streams. It also became a lesson in forward thinking leadership with vision in mind.

In a world that has gone through several social changes over the past 100 years, one common question throughout these changes is this: what to do with our waste? Before the industrial revolution the sparse population density kept waste management under the radar. It was a minor nuisance but manageable within the society parameters. There are a few cited cases of waste posing a problem in history such as the first official waste dump site in 500 BC in Athens, Greece. The city officials made it a law that refuse was to be moved out of the city limits. Then in Paris, in 1400, the piles of refuse just outside the city limits compromised the city’s ability to adequately defend itself. As the industrial revolution changed the way we lived, manufactured and did business, it also brought issues with waste management. Concentrated populations in cities bred disease and filth based solely on our human inability to effectively deal with waste - progress was far too important.

As western society of Europe expanded, so too did the inability to deal with the foot print of waste.  In world waste management history there are glimpses of our ingenuity in dealing with our manufactured by-products – reusing and recycling. However, human nature prevailed and the “reclamation of swamp land into usable space for human expansion” by depositing garbage in these spaces became the norm. We didn’t put any thought into the “footprint on our environment” at the time. As we “reclaimed” previously unusable land, the population exploded and no sustainable plan was put in place as the waste was “managed” – out of sight out of mind as our society’s dirty little secret.

This brings us to present day, where waste management is probably one of the fastest growing industries now and arguably in the future. Politicians are now mandating we look after our carelessness of the past and start to re-educate the population, after years of just sweeping the garbage under the rug. As much progress as Edmonton has made – and Edmonton is truly a leader in becoming a “zero landfill” community – it was an eye opener on what is happening elsewhere in the world.

To start with, the City of Calgary introduced their first residential recycling program in 2009 and started down a path of re-education. Calgary states they achieved 23% landfill diversion in 2009 due to their recycling program. They aim to reach 80% diversion-from-landfill by 2020. They are currently doing research and pilot projects to improve waste management and processing.
City of Calgary - Waste & Recycling Services 2011

The City of Toronto faced a similar challenge as Edmonton; their only landfill was rapidly filling up in the late 1990s and they needed a solution. Their response was to export waste to Michigan, and they signed a contract with a landfill in Michigan that they started to use in 1998, and used extensively from 2002 to 2010. The contract expired on December 31, 2010.  In 2007, the City of Toronto bought another landfill site 200 km outside the city limits and started using this landfill exclusively in January 2011. They are trying initiatives to divert waste from the landfill and have a goal of 70% diversion by 2034. If they don’t meet their waste management initiatives, the landfill that they just started using in 2011 will be full by 2025.
City of Toronto - Green Bin Program History
City of Toronto - Solid Waste Management Services

New York
My research about waste management in New York City was the most eye opening. They had the largest sanitary landfill in the world, and it closed in 2001 - the Fresh Kill Landfill on Staten Island. The mayor, at the time, adopted a long-term plan (20 years) to export all the city’s waste to several out-of-state landfills, as far away as Virginia.  The waste was trucked over ground, further polluting the environment. In 2006, the new mayor proposed a transfer station on the waterfront, so the waterways could be used to transport waste more cheaply, to landfills further away - which that didn’t charge as much for disposal. The city is also spearheading initiatives for citizens, incorporating reducing, reusing, and recycling. But these initiatives do not seem to be curbing the “busy lifestyles” of New Yorkers. They are still some of the largest generators of waste (per capita) in the world. Political leaders in New York have run into resistance when proposing changes or spending large sums of capital to address waste. As long as the politicians feel that they can keep making the waste of New York someone else’s issue, there will be no real leadership capable of a resolution in solving this large problem.
NYC recycle more, waste less
NYC Takes the Garbage Out - columnist

In Europe, Switzerland has the highest recycling numbers for plastic bottles in the European Union (80%); where Greece sits at just 1%. Also waste is incinerated more often in European countries, with Denmark leading the way at 62%. There are several other initiatives in Europe to curb the amount of waste going to the dwindling number of landfills. Again, Switzerland has free recycling but charges customers per bag of waste. The European Union also is increasing the amount of “wet waste” being composted, however a report published by European Union - Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability claims that 40% of bio-waste is still landfilled (2011, not including all biodegradable waste). Europe is still struggling with waste management as a viable option for renewable and reusable resources.
Supporting Environmentally Sound Decisions for Bio-Waste Management

After researching the waste management of other municipalities and countries, it bring out a sense of pride for Edmonton's waste management systems. Especially all the systems that we currently have in place, and coming soon, to reduce our waste footprint. There are companies in the world that rival Edmonton’s technology in reducing waste and making waste management strategies viable, but all the reading and researching I did for this blog, I didn’t come across any other institution, entity, company, country, person, place or thing that rivals the complete picture that Edmonton has envisioned and made a reality. When you recycle your plastic bottles, recycle your used tires, or just plain throw out the “trash”, the reality in Edmonton is, even without educating the masses, we have done our part in making sure waste management is a priority.


Lee Davies
City of Edmonton - Master Composter Recycler

I grew up in rural Alberta where composting and reusing was a way of life. So joining the Waste Management branch was a good fit. I graduated from the Master Composter Recycling program in 2009.

I own and operate a landscape construction company in greater Edmonton, where 50 percent of my business is residential and 50 percent commercial.

I have great opportunities to involve residents with waste management in their landscapes by recommending composting areas, reusing landscape materials, and grasscycling in their maintenance programs.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Talking garbage in China

We definitely won't ship garbage to China. But, we will start doing garbage business in China. And that's exciting.

A couple weeks ago, Mayor Mandel announced a new corporation: Waste RE-Solutions Edmonton. Maybe you saw the news. We are really starting to profit from our knowledge. news release

Waste RE-Solutions Edmonton is owned by the City of Edmonton and will sell expertise about waste management to cities around the world. The corporation will focus on China, at first.

Building for years

Edmonton has gained national and international attention, over the years, for our garbage. Hundreds of over-seas visitors, every year, come to the EWMC. And, slowly, we built relationships with cities in China.

Selling our expertise shows that Edmonton is a model that other cities can learn from:
  • an integrated system
  • strong participation by citizens
  • best practices in residential, commerical, & construction waste
  • based on partnerships (e.g. Greys Paper, Enerkem, GEEP)
Best of all, Edmonton will stay a leader in waste. And that's good.

              from this:

             to this:

Highlights: Waste RE-Solutions Edmonton

  • Owned by the City of Edmonton
  • Sells expertise about waste management to governments
  • Focusing on opportunities in China (to start)
  • Partnership with Canfit Resource Recovery (Beijing)
  • No impact on regular services of Waste Management Services
  • If cities want more community engagement, Edmonton's MCRP might be one strategy

Official Message

from Roy Neehall, Manager of Waste Management Services...

It is with great pleasure that I inform you today Mayor Mandel announced the establishment of Waste RE-solutions Edmonton, the entity under which we will market our expertise.  The contribution made by all areas of our Branch in delivering sustainable programs to our residents made the decision by Council a unanimous one. Our initial project focus will be Beijing but opportunities will be actively pursued in other areas. Our partners at the  Edmonton Waste Management Centre, Greys, Enerkem and GEEP, will work with us where it is mutually beneficial to do so. We are at the early stages of this business opportunity but I am confident that it will be a success in the years ahead drawing on the significant talent that exists in our Branch.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Too Many Choices, Too Little Information

Submitted by Heather Wheeliker, Master Composter Recycler Volunteer with the City of Edmonton

With Waste ReductionWeek occurring across Canada October 15 to 21, this is a good time to re-examine purchasing habits and rethink new ways to reduce waste stream contributions.

It’s not an easy task. I realize that my habits are based on information I learned many years ago. Here’s what I mean: I am often heard saying to colleagues “please ask for 100% post-consumer waste non-glossy paper.” Huh? Where did I ever come up with that? It’s based on understanding what the recycle symbol tells us. 

A Mobius loop means that the product can be recycled. But a Mobius loop within a circle means the product contains recycled material (the percentage of recycled material is usually found nearby and often a qualifier to indicate the percentage of post-consumer waste). To learn more about this topic, refer to the provincial elementary education resource, Get in the Loop

Now about the non-glossy paper; years ago, I was told that a clay coating is added to paper to make it glossy. Don’t get me wrong, I like glossy paper. But knowing that it takes additional resources and energy to coat the paper, often for one-time use, and then this coating must be stripped away during the recycling process and the clay particles dealt with separately, has caused me to rethink choosing glossy paper. That said, things could have changed since I learned about clay coatings, so if anyone knows differently please chime in. For now, I will continue to request non-glossy paper.

Certification logos play a role when I am choosing products. Have you ever tried to purchase a green cleaner? I spend way too much time reading labels, trying to figure out which is going to be the least harmful to the environment—and to my lungs—but still get the job done. The print is small, and it’s easy to miss a critical piece of information until you get the product home and in good reading light. My latest tactic is to look for a logo. And because we live in Canada, I look for products carrying the EcoLogo certification stamp of approval. This tells me that, at the very least, the product has been reviewed by a third party, and has met or passed pre-determined environmental standards. OK, I’m ready for the criticism that I should make my own cleaner. But I’m busy these days and it’s enough for me to actually do the cleaning let alone make the cleaner first. Until I have more time, I will continue to look for the EcoLogo label.

Another common logo I look for on wood or paper products is from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This certification program tracks the product from the forest where it was harvested, all the way to the store shelf.  It tells me that the forest is appropriately managed and that communities nearby the forest harvesting operations are consulted and considered as being integral to the forest community. Several printers in Edmonton have a Chain of Custody Certification which means they are approved to use FSC paper as a result of the processes they have integrated into their printing operations. 

Sometimes the more you think about it, the more confusing it can be.  Yet, it seems like a lifetime since I last looked at something as “waste for landfill.” Edmonton offers a world-class waste management system, however the resources embedded within waste materials make me rethink my purchasing and disposal decisions each and every day. My resolve to turn down a coffee served in a disposable cup helps to remind me to carry a mug with me. I set out a yellow pail in our office kitchen to collect compostables from staff and, as a result, I end up with a significant pile of compost each year to spread on my flower and vegetable gardens. I reuse as much as possible, I try to avoid impulse shopping. But I’m certainly not a perfect role model for waste reduction. We all get caught up in the day-to-day rush of life, and it can be complicated enough without thinking about waste. Yet it seems like the information I learned years ago is simple and memorable enough that I no longer have to think too hard about it.

If you’re still swimming in the deep end on this and hope to remove the complications that surround consumer choices and waste, take an hour during Waste Reduction Week to learn more about waste, and to find and form new habits.  A little bit of sound information and a couple of key logos should help you through. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Volunteer Recognition Event 2012

The 2012 Waste Management Services Volunteer Recognition Event was held last Wednesday, September 26 at the Trans Alta Arts Barns.

Thank you to all of our Master Composter Recycler and Reuse Centre Volunteers! It was rewarding to see a group of over 80 community-minded and waste-concious individuals gathering together. The evening gave us an opportunity to share our stories, congratulate the award winners and nominees, and sample tasty treats from local vendors.

Thank you to all the vendors who took part:

Fruits of Sherbrook
Jams, jellys and condiments made from locally rescued fruit in the Sherbrook neighbourhood.

Gourmet Granola
A selection of locally-made granola.

Blue Kettle Speciality Foods
Ginger dressing with shrimp skewer, penne paster with tomato basil pasta sauce.

Andreanna's Homestyle
Locally-made sausage, cheese, and meatballs.

Smoky Valley Goat Cheese
A variety of locally-made goat cheese.

Vitaly Teas
Canada-made Chai lattes.

Catfish Coffee Roasters
Small batch locally-roasted coffee beans from around the world.

Already looking forward to next year's event! 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Worm Bins in the Classroom by Alyson Winkelaar

Here in the Community Relations section (of Waste Management Services), we are gearing up for another school year. With presentations such as Waste and Our World, Choose to Reuse, Squirmy Wormy Composting, and Garbage In-CompostOut, we reached over 3000 students and teachers during the 2011/2012 year.

Squirmy Wormy Composting presentations
With these presentations, we brought the wonderful world of worm composting to nearly 100 classrooms last year, alone.  During the presentation, students are taught how red-wiggler worms can help us with the fundamentals of waste management: the 3 Rs. Much of the food waste that comes from our kitchens and lunches can be Reused as a food source for our red-wiggler worms, helping us Reduce the amount of waste we throw away every day. By munching and digesting, the worms Recycle our food waste into high quality compost that can be added to our potted plants and garden beds. The students are taught how to care for the worms. They learn that worms will thrive with the right balance of moisture, air, food, and shelter.
Most times, we leave a small worm bin behind. It is stocked with worms and bedding material so the students can enjoy the benefits of compositing, right in their classroom.

How We Can Improve
One thing we want to improve is support for the worm bins that we leave behind. Every once in a while, we get a panicked call for help from a teacher whose worm bin has turned into a smelly bog, the worms are desperately clinging to the sides or trying to climb out, and food is sloshing around the bottom. Of course, that's if any worms can be found at all! We worry that, when things go wrong, teachers will just throw out their worm bin...  rather than ask for help. We want to support teachers, so they have a good experience with worm composting. 

How MCRs Can Get Involved
We are looking for volunteers to help with our School Worm Team.  Lots of Master Composters Recyclers have agreed to be a Compost Doctor (making house calls to assess someone's backyard compost bin). The School Worm Team is Compost Doctoring at its finest!  Volunteers will be matched with schools in their area that have recently had a Squirmy Wormy Compost presentation.  MCRs will contact the teacher two or three weeks after the presentation to see how things are going with their worm bin.  If help is needed, either advice over the phone or a quick visit with the teacher will help put their worm bin back on track. 

This new grassroots School Worm Team initiative is important because it is neighbours helping neighbours. We would love to revisit schools and see thriving worm compost bins in the classrooms that are actually being used to help reduce the amount of waste being thrown out at schools throughout Edmonton. This is a super simple way to volunteer and get to know your local schools at the same time!

Sign up for the School Worm Team at

Alyson is a Program Specialist and has worked for the City of Edmonton (Waste Management Services) since fall, 2011. She already delivered 3 presentations for the school year and is excited to do many more. Alyson became a Master Composter Recycler in 2012. Outside of the world of waste, she is an accomplished dog trainer.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Back to School Not So Basics by MCR Christine Werk

Writing supplies at the Reuse Centre
It is time to drag our children off of the playgrounds and send them back to school. While going back to school “in style” is important, so is staying green at school. One easy green option is reusing old school supplies and/or purchasing a portion of school supplies from the Reuse Centre. The Reuse Centre has a wide selection of binders and pencil cases and an impressive range of crafting supplies that can be used throughout the school year. While researching for this blog, I ran into a teacher who informed me that it may be very difficult to get children to shop for second-hand supplies. Fair enough. May I suggest turning back-to-school into two lessons: budgeting and the environment?

Michael Recycle exploring the Reuse Centre
Step 1: Figure out what the cheapest most boring selection of school supplies would cost. Share this information with the child.

Step 2: Have the child look through the home to see if they have some of the supplies already.

Step 3: Go to the reuse centre and fill in any additional supplies that are available there. Try not to get distracted by all of the trophies.

Step 4: Finally, let your child use the money they saved for upgrading the remaining school options from the boring ones to the cool ones. Perhaps this means that by finding good binders at the Reuse Centre, he/she gets the Spiderman backpack instead of the generic blue one. Little Samuel or Felicia may even be able to pick up some stickers to refurbish their binders.

When getting ready for back-to-school, consider trying this out. There are lots of ways we can teach our children to keep the environment healthy while they learn about the world and how to be a part of it.
Binders, notebooks, and pencil cases at the Reuse Centre

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Public Art Rollin' into Back Alleys Near You

Waste Management Services is constructing a new building called Kennendale Waste Operations East to house single-family collection vehicles and staff. This means that thanks to The City's Percent for Art Policy there will be some colourful collection trucks in our fleet of vehicles. The policy states that 1% of the capital budget for new buildings will be dedicated to public art work.

Waste Management Services' new operations building at the Northeast Kennendale public art project includes 2 components:
  • 6 newly wrapped trucks will be introduced to the streets of Edmonton over the next few months.
  • 6 permanent panels will be installed on the new building. 

The first of 6 trucks which are wrapped with art selected by the Edmonton Art Council.  

The Edmonton Arts Council has selected three Alberta artists for the initiative:

Karen Campos was born in El Salvador and currently resides in Edmonton, where she attended MacEwan University as an Illustration Major in Design Studies. She has exhibited works at the ARTery, Exposure Festival, and was one of three artists who participated in the downtown Colour Alley Project.

Jeff Chan currently lives in Lethbridge, and is completing an Education Program at the University of Lethbridge. He received his bachelor of fine arts in Drawing from the Alberta College of Art and Design in 2011. He has participated in art shows in both Calgary and Lethbridge; recently he completed a performance piece entitled “Free Wishes” in San Francisco.

David Goulden received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of British Columbia and then went on to complete his Masters of Architecture from the University of Calgary. David’s artistic career has spanned the last 12 years. He is an artist, creative director, art director, and a designer. His work has been published and shown internationally including Canadian Architect, AZURE, and Applied Arts magazines. He is the founder of id8 design group. David currently lives in Calgary.

Garbage and art often find themselves hand in hand. Here are some other Edmonton based projects you may find interesting:

City Hall, Edmonton Police Service, Alberta Health, Catholic Social Services, Homeward Trust and Arts on the Ave came together as The 82 Street Team to create The Eyes on the Alley Project. Photos were placed on dumpsters on alley east of 82 Street between 121 and 122 Ave. 

Edmonton on the Edge has wrapped seven dumpsters in the Alley of Light. To check them out, stroll in the alley just north of Jasper between Enterprise Square (103 St) and Beaver HIlls Park (105 St). Photographs were all created by painting with light. 

Brandon Blommaert's work was selected for the Ambleside Ecostation in 2009. The artwork consists of five images of typical Alberta landscapes: the Rocky Mountains, Boreal Forest, Parkland, the Badlands and urban sprawl.