Friday, August 14, 2015

We "Go Bagless". Do you? by MCR Rifat S.

Who doesn’t know the importance of grasscycling in summer?
As an advocate of grasscycling, I have been talking about it to my friends, especially those who have a house with a lawn, and it’s great to see some of them have started going bagless! I feel very happy about that! I do not have a lawn of my own, so in my mind I wished to show my support in any way possible. And it is well said that where there is a will, there is a way! Who knew my wish would come true?

I live in an apartment in an old neighbourhood near Whyte Avenue, which is home to about 50 families. There was no blue bin before for this complex, and we recently got one! Within a few days, I saw that many of the neighbours were not aware of recycling in a proper way. They were putting all the wrong things in the recycling bin, and leaving big items beside it, and the resident manager was so worried about that. One of my goals is to teach my friends and neighbours about “What Goes Where”, and so I approached the manager to see if I could help her by providing information to all the neighbours. She was more than happy! She saw the offer as a favour, and that actually helped achieve the next step!

I approached her next about grasscycling, and showing support with a ‘Go Bagless’ lawn sign. She was interested, but explained the fact that it might be difficult to convince the property management office and the shareholders involved with the apartment. But sometimes I can be super devilish...of course for something good! I kept knocking on her door, chitchatting with her so she was thinking about the issue, and giving her information to pass along. I did not want to lose the chance to make it happen!

…And yes, we succeeded! Now not only me, but also another 50 families with about 100 people from this apartment can say we “Go Bagless’! Do you?
Can you see the treasure on our lawn?

I have my greatest passion to contribute to building sustainable communities. Being an MCR-in-training, I am happy that I can do something for the community. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I see my friends and neighbours are following waste-reduction tips in their life that I pass on to them!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Worms at Work by MCR Trina G.

Photo Credit via
“Can I feed the worms?” a co-worker asked me as I was digging around in their little home in the kitchen.
“Sure, whatcha got?” I asked.
“An apple core,” he tentatively offered to my wiggling wormies, “will they eat that?”
Yes, yes, yes they will!  So my co-worker got to feed the worms.  You would swear I’d given him a gift from the look on his face.
The truth is I had given him a gift - a bit of education on vermicomposting.  He, among others around the office, ask constantly how the worms are doing.  
My confession: these are my best-kept secret at the office.  I keep a small container of worms under my desk, feeding them offerings from the coffee machine and from co-workers once every two weeks. How did I accomplish it?
Getting everyone on board
  • I informed everyone I was going to be bringing in a small, unobtrusive tub for composting in the office and answered any questions my co-workers had.  (Will they crawl out? No. Will it stink? Not if I do it right.) For those who don’t like worms, I don’t pull out the bin around them.
  • I assured my co-workers that even though they were contributing, they would not have any responsibility other than finding a home for the compost at the end of the process.
  • I put a well-labelled ice cream pail in the kitchen, detailing what can be fed to the worms.
Keeping everyone happy
  • I empty the pail regularly.
  • I invite people who want to feed the worms into the kitchen to help me fluff the bin.
  • I feed the worms in the kitchen and clean well afterward.
  • After I had some compost built up, I found out when the green thumbs on my floor were going to transplant or add soil to their plants and did a harvest right then for them.
  • When I was done harvesting, I asked others if they wanted the extra compost. We buried a bit in their soil right then.
  • I talked to those who took compost a few weeks later and asked if they saw the difference in their plants. Many did! That improvement convinced them of the value of compost.
Keeping my compost in the office has been a great experience, but it does take work. What are my keys to success with having wiggly worms in the office? 
  • Building relationships with my colleagues first and foremost.
  • Starting conversations prior to bringing in the worms, answering questions.
  • Encouraging participation.
  • Thanking them with compost!
Trina graduated from the MCR program in May 2014 and is dedicated to helping others reduce their waste footprint through fun and creative methods. Her goal as an MCR is to educate others, help them find solutions for waste issues that are important to them and encourage them to take action!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Activities for Community League Day

Community League Day is coming - are you involved? In the spirit of MCR Maria K, here are three "simple suggestions" for promoting waste reduction at your Community League Day celebration.

Host a Free Table

Got a pile of stuff you were saving for your favourite second hand store? Most of us do! Invite your friends and neighbours to bring their charity-bound items for a swap or "free stuff" table.

They'll save a trip to the local thrift shop, while still making sure their items will be used again.

Make sure you have a plan to get leftover items to your charity of choice afterward.

Collect Batteries

Everyone has a few dead batteries for disposal. Show friends and neighbours that batteries and light bulbs are just like paint and bleach - hazardous waste that should go to the Eco Station!

Set up a collection box for household batteries, that you will transport to an Eco Station after the event.
Batteries should never go in the garbage!

Note: Eco Stations do NOT receive waste from businesses and institutions. If MCRs collect a bunch of household batteries, contact the MCR Team for instructions.

Collect [Gently Used] Warm Clothes for Donation
We know that Edmonton winters can be harsh. Set up a collection station for warm clothing to donate.

Connect with one of the organizations in our city that works to keep homeless and low-income Edmontonians safe and warm. Check with them beforehand about donation guidelines.

Here is a short list of organizations that accept in-kind donations of clothing:

Keep Edmontonians warm this winter by
holding a coat drive.
Image from The Windsor Star
Coats for Kids & Families
Bissell Centre
YESS - Youth Empowerment & Support Services
The Mustard Seed
Wings of Providence
Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society
Bag of Hope
Hope Mission

Know another organization? Please post in the comments.

September 19, 2015 is Community League Day. Have fun in your 'hood.
Contact your community league. Find your community league.