CBC's The Hour recently completed their challenge for Canadians to do "One Million Acts of Green". Kudos to all participants. This challenge is still ongoing. For more information check it out here.

The new challenge for Canada, is to reach Two Million Acts of Green. According to the website, they are hoping to reach this new goal by summer. Many businesses and individuals are participating in this effort. Good luck to all. If interested in learning more click here.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Another word for organic recycling is 'Composting'

Composting is an effective process to recycle organic material. It is easy and can be done in your own backyard. Common household waste from food preparation and yard waste from gardening can easily be composted into soil. This includes egg shells; vegetable and fruit peels; paper can and bottle labels; paper towels; leaves and grass; dead plants and small twigs are usable materials. The exception is meat or any animal based product because it could attract animals.

The composting itself takes little effort. In some respects it is probably easier than gathering up all the materials for regular recycling. As you prepare your meal, any organic waste material should go into a separate container (most people keep this container under their sink). Once that container is full, the contents are transferred to a backyard compost bins.

Many varieties of compost bins exist varying from homemade to store bought. A review of several different composting bins can be viewed here, it includes the model that we use. We have the Soil Saver Backyard Composter. When EWSWA first began the recycling program and included composting, these containers were available for purchase at a very low price. EWSWA also has a composting program where they have compost available for sale. The photo shown above, of a compost bin available through EWSWA, illustrates how easily it can be incorporated into any backyard setting.

If you do not want to purchase a commercially made compost bin, one can always build their own. Lowes has a site with instructions on building a two bin compost system. These systems work very effectively and if you are an avid gardener it is advantageous to have one in your backyard. Not only will you be growing your own plants and vegetables, but you will be creating nutritious soil for use in growing them.

Mulching is another effective means to recycle your yard waste. Rather than bagging grass clippings, have a mulching blade on your lawn mower. The clippings remain in the grass and provide nutrients to help ensure the health of your lawn. Leaves can also be mulched. Put leaves into a container and chop them up with your grass trimmer. After that they can be placed on plants in the garden or added to your compost bin. Or better yet, when leaves are sitting on your lawn, just go over them with the lawn mower and leave them.

For explanations about the differences between compost and mulch, visit EWSWA. They no longer sell mulch but the site still has the comparison between mulch and compost.

Most landfills do not accept yard waste any more; so if you are able to mulch or compost, it is a good contribution to helping the environment. If you are unable to compost or mulch, Windsor and Essex County do have yard waste recycling days.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

What do parks have in common with methane gas?

In the late 1970s, while I lived in London, ON, there was an explosion in downtown London that was caused by methane gas. It was frightening since one of my co-workers lived in the area. Fortunately, her home was not damaged, but others in the area were not so lucky. This was my first understanding of what methane gas was, where it came from and what it could do. Landfills are the connection between parks and methane gas. Old landfill sites are closed and eventually sculpted into parks. In some instances, such as the case in London, homes are built on former landfills. Over time, gases build as the debris decomposes. Venting is necessary to allow the gases to escape, in order to prevent explosions.

The top two photos
are Malden Park and
the bottom photo is
Little River Park.

In the Windsor area there are two parks that have been created from closed landfill sites. One on the west side of Windsor and one on the east side. These sites have been closed for decades and the City of Windsor has painstakingly sculpted these two areas so that the public can enjoy them. For those unfamiliar with these parks -- they are Malden Park also referred to as Malden Hill and Little River Park (or Suicide Hill for those who enjoy sports such as biking; the park is unsupervised).They were formerly known as the Malden Landfill site and Little River Landfill site. The City of Windsor worked on converting these two sites and now they are essentially the only "hills" in a relatively flat area. Albeit man-made, at least it offers a safer environment for children tobogganing.

When I was a kid, if you wanted to toboggan it was usually down the side of the overpasses for 401. Not necessarily the safest way to go. These parks are open to the public, for hiking, cycling and picnicking. There are extensive trails, the Little River Park is near the Ganatchio Trail which is another favourite spot for hikers, runners and cyclists. Malden Hill has an extensive trail system but is not close to any other trail system. If you have the opportunity, it is truly an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. Malden Park is not far from the University, there are ponds, some areas to sit and during the summer there is a pavillion, washrooms etc. Check it out, you might be pleasantly surprised to see what garbage can do.

To close, I would like to discuss the methane issue from a different perspective. Last year my husband and I were having a discussion about methane gas and its effect on the environment when he mentioned something about methane retrieval. He had heard or read an article about a company that was collecting the methane produced by landfill waste to use for energy. The company is S.C. Johnson and the article is attached here. The article which appeared in The Business Journal Serving Greater Milwaukee, May 2, 2003 discusses the efforts to which the company has gone, in order to be environmentally friendly and the amount of money saved in energy costs. It is interesting to note that the landfill is not on their property. At the time of the article the annual savings after startup and operating costs were estimated at $2.4 million dollars annually.

It is nice to know that some companies are being proactive regarding the environment. In a way, it's ironic that a company that manufactures items that could be harmful to the environment has taken such steps. But after all, S.C. Johnson has always been ahead of their time. According to the article, they were the first company to eliminate chlorofluorocarbons from their products before it was mandated by the government. Way to go! Hopefully, many others will follow suit in an effort to clean things up for the future.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Recycling makes it way into mainstream TV

Hubby and I watched CBC TV this week. Only a couple of shows but none the less, we hit them at the right times.

The first show was The Hour -- not our usual viewing fair but occasionally something is on and it's interesting. A video clip was shown regarding a man from Los Angeles who had a personal challenge pertaining to waste and recycling. This was the first time that I've heard about "Sustainable Dave"; the man challenged himself to see how much garbage he uses in one year. The interview was very interesting and is available on THE HOUR website. It's surprising to see what one can do if one puts their mind to it. After I found the video on the TV show website, I continued to check things out and discovered Sustainable Dave's website. Although his one year challenge is over, he has continued trying to enlighten others. I enjoyed his slogan "no one can do everything but everyone can do something". Talk about a simple way to say it won't work without you! I also discovered numerous YouTube videos about him from the various interviews he has done.

A couple of nights later we watched the Rick Mercer Report. We've enjoyed this guy for years (since his days on This Hour has 22 Minutes)-- especially his talking to Americans (2000). You had to love it when he talked to then presidential candidate George W. Bush about his reaction to his endorsement by Canada's Prime Minister Jean Poutine. But reminisces aside his recent clip on Canada's Recycling program was good. Got a good laugh. Hope you do too!

Although some aspects of his video are extremely exaggerated it shows that recycling is being done and has grown to include many items. Just a reminder -- we all need to do our part. It's the little things that drive home the point that we all have to do something to help make things better for the future. But I don't need to tell you that right!