Tag-Archive for ◊ Compost ◊

• Monday, October 15th, 2012

fungi in the forestSource: St. Jim the Composter

Stop to smell the flowers and you might learn something.   Farmers and other ecosystem managers are considering a whole lot of factors few of us city slickers know about.    They have better sense than to try to kill off every living thing that’s not salable.   Country people are more mature about the facts of life and death.    They’re familiar with the smell of manure, and not unduly afraid of it.   They know that what feeds the life in the soil – the dead bodies and manure of plants and animals – feeds us people.

Nature – the community of life that provides us with the food we eat and the oxygen we breathe, and consumes our waste products for us – has an incredible ability to heal the destructive impacts of industrialization.     The first entrants into an area damaged by radiation are microbes and fungi; this is why composting is a pollution-cleaning technology.   The web of life slowly re-establishes itself, and (though the genetic damage will take many generations to restore the site) life will re-establish itself.     But don’t kid yourself – the myth of clean, safe nuclear power, unquestioning belief in which was nurtured by the military-industrial establishment to continue the nuclear industry and manufacture bombs after World War II, is genetically destabilizing the planet.

The Bahai faith believes that humanity as a whole is on a path of maturation, like growing from childhood to adulthood.    And our current stage is adolescence.    We’re running around inventing and manufacturing enormous numbers of new things, not thinking of the consequences.     Should we make it through to maturity as a species, it will be because our lover side has won over our warrior side.   The Catholic philosopher Father Thomas Berry said, “The Universe is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects.”  Though this mystical attitude – that, as American Indians believe, even plants and rocks are alive – seems illogical, the most advanced modern science is confirming that there is no real separation between anything.    When you hurt another creature you’re hurting yourself.    The most productive gardens and farms are those in which ALL species are welcome.     The way to win a war is to make friends with the other side, not defeat them.

• Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

beer can molsonSource: Montreal Gazette

Returns for beer and soft drink cans will rise to 10 cents per returned item from five cents by the end of 2012 under a new five-year plan to deal with Quebec’s recyclable waste.

Pierre Arcand, Quebec’s minister for the environment, sustainable development and parks, added Sunday the province’s 30-year-old law on handling recyclable waste will be updated.

Every year, Quebecers buy 390 million cans and pay nearly $21 million in deposits on beer and other drink cans. The cans can take 200 to 500 years to decompose.

The government intends to spend $4 million this year to improve the treatment and composting of organic waste and similar dollar amounts in each of the other years of its five-year plan to deal with organic waste, a statement from Arcand and officials with Recyc-Québec, a government agency, explained…

…The new plan includes a public awareness campaign about disposable packaging and the promotion of a new recycling certification program manufacturers can use to label products made with recyclable materials. The plan calls for businesses, government agencies and municipalities to change their buying policies and include the purchase of recycled materials.

Category: Waste | Tags: , ,  | 2 Comments
• Tuesday, November 01st, 2011

Montreal Garbage (could be compost)

The pressing reality of living on an island is that land is a finite resource and eventually we run out of space to put our garbage. Transforming some of our garbage to fuel and soil is one step toward sustainability.

If you don’t want to wait for the city to get its ducks in a row, you can start composting today.

Source: Montreal Gazette

Quebecers have a growing garbage problem. Landfill sites are filling up, and the rotting garbage in them can leach contaminants into groundwater and produce a gas composed of methane and carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

Quebecers produce about 810 kg of garbage per person every year, but the province wants to get that down to 700 kg by 2015. One of the biggest components of our garbage is organic materials. An estimated 44 per cent of the garbage we produce every year could be composted. As part of the garbage diet it has planned for Quebecers, the province has banned organic waste – including food waste – from landfills by 2020…

…Green waste can also be transformed into natural gas through a process called biomethanation, but no food waste is now being transformed into biofuels in Quebec, according to Récyc-Québec…

..After two years of scouting for locations, the city has chosen four sites it thinks are suitable for building compost-treatment centres. Under the city’s plan, biogas plants would be built in Montreal East and LaSalle, and composting centres in St. Michel and Dorval. They would handle organic waste from across the island, reducing the number of trucks carrying garbage off the island to landfills.

The plan is for compost collection to be in place for all buildings on the island with eight units or less by 2014, city officials said. Yard and food waste would be collected in the same bin on the western half of the island; on the eastern end there would be separate collections of food and yard waste.

• Thursday, September 01st, 2011

altCome celebrate the environment during the 4th annual Éco-fête NDG

Saturday September 10th, come join us for the 4th annual Éco-fête, a great annual event in the neighbourhood. In addition to Éco-quartier, there will be plenty of other environmental organizations presenting kiosks and conducting workshops aimed for children as well as adults.

The eco-fete will include…
Practical workshops:
  • Composting / vermicomposting workshop
  • Green cleaning solutions workshop
Children’s activities:
  • Recycled toy exhibit
  • Eco story reading
  • Corn husk dolls

Join us between 1pm and 4pm at Paul-Doyon Park (Monkland and Girouard). Pass by and share your love of the environment with us!

• Thursday, April 07th, 2011

In order to help you out with your gardening, The Coop Maison Verte has organised a series of workshops related to gardening techniques, local food and food conservation for April and May. They are all free, bilingual, and will all take place at the coop, 5785 Sherbrooke street West.

  • Seed saving April 13th with Nel Ewanè, agr. Msc. from Action Comuniterre 7 to 9 pm
  • Beekeeping workshop April 14th with Alain Péricard from Rucher Apis 7 to 9 pm
  • Community Farming information session April 15th with Dave Merson from Ferme Mange-tout 7 to 9pm
  • Compost 101 May 2nd with Julieta from Eco-Quartier NDG 7 to 9pm
  • Green Smoothie workshop May 3rd with Ildiko Brunner from Raw in Montreal 7 to 9:30pm
  • Vermi composting workshop May 10th with Philippe Robillard from Pousse-menu 7 to 9pm
  • Sprouting and fermentation workshop May 12th with Philippe Robillard from Pousse-menu 7 to 9pm

For more info contact:

Stéphanie Guico
Coordinatrice du marketing | Marketing coordinator
514 489 8000

• Monday, January 24th, 2011

Green Skiing - No IdlingFor many Scandinavians and Europeans, skiing isn’t just a sport, it’s how they get to work.

Source: Montreal Gazette

…at Le Massif in the Charlevoix region, where a $230-million expansion is under way, green transportation is a major theme. The project, which should be completed by 2013, will offer dedicated rail service from Quebec City, gondola service from the train station to the base chalet and various types of green transportation on site (including dog sled and electric vehicles). A new hotel will be heated and cooled using geothermal and solar energy.

Mont Sutton, in the Eastern Townships, now composts organic waste from its four restaurants, buys local food when possible, provides shuttle service for its employees and guests from the village to the mountain, and encourages carpooling on its website and through occasional lift-ticket discounts. Along with five other Quebec ski hills, Mont Sutton is running an awareness program to get clients and bus drivers to stop idling their engines in ski-hill parking lots (and elsewhere).

So if you must downhill ski or board, and apparently many of us must, it’s important to support these changes and to encourage more. Here are some other tips on skiing green to keep those mountains white:

- Take a bus or a train to the ski hill whenever possible. Check the ski-area websites to see if they are served by bus or rail. Also check out express-ski.com,which offers bus transportation from Montreal and lift ticket deals to several ski destinations, including Killington, Le Massif, Mont Tremblant, Mont Ste. Anne, Smugglers’ Notch, Stoneham, Stowe, Sugarbush, Whiteface and Sejour.

- Carpool whenever possible. Check ski station websites to see if they offer a carpool coordination service. You can also coordinate with other skiers and find group travel deals at qc.bougex.com.

- Take your own food and drinks. Even if some resorts do offer recyclable dishes and packaging, you will waste less energy, reduce waste and save money by taking your own food in your own containers.

- Don’t idle your engine at the hill or elsewhere. It’s bad for your engine, wastes gas and pollutes big time. The vehicle will warm up faster as you drive.

- Buy or rent used equipment at places like Play it Again Sports and La poubelle du ski.

- Sustainable Slopes
- Keep Winter Cool

• Wednesday, December 01st, 2010
Mayor Tremblay

Mayor Tremblay

The new 2011 $4.5 Billion Montreal city budget released by Mayor Tremblay has many goodies for car-free folk:

  • 8% increase ($32 million) to the STM and AMT for metro/train/bus service
  • $45 per car tax to further fund public transit (not really a benefit)
  • $28.3-million over 3 years to further develop Montreal’s bike paths

While these are good things, keep in mind that the city will still spend about $265 Million on roads, tunnels, road crossings, bridges and traffic lights!

There are also other nice sustainability perqs:

  • 245,000 high-volume recycling containers (which also help keep the recycled waste out of streets and sidewalks)
  • The construction of 5 large scale composting facilities by 2014 (despite NIMBY protests)

The biggest criticism I have is that the tax increase to pay for all these goodies is unsustainable. Home owners get hit with a 2.5% property tax increase which seems higher than current inflation (zero?). Why not zero tax hikes? That’s sustainable!

• Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Highlights of the plan include funding for:

  • more bike paths
  • green promenades through the most densely populated sectors
  • charging stations for electric cars
  • curb-side pickup of kitchen compost for buildings with less than 8 units (sorry apartment dwellers!)

Source: Montreal Gazette

Mayor Gérald Tremblay on Tuesday unveiled a new sustainable-development plan for Montreal that will focus on improving air quality and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, conserving water and reducing garbage sent to landfills, and making neighbourhoods more livable to stem the exodus of residents off the island.

The five-year plan, which Tremblay said will cost $1 million in the first year, was adopted by the city’s executive committee Tuesday morning.

It includes a goal of cutting polluting greenhouse-gas emissions by 30 per cent in 2020 compared to 1990 levels, a target that is even more ambitious than the provincial government’s, which is 20 per cent by 2020.

View the city’s full plan.

• Friday, September 17th, 2010

Source: Dirt The Movie

1. Only one planet that we know of in all the galaxies of the universe has a living, breathing skin called dirt. For 2 million years, humans have used dirt to grow their food for survival. If we don’t take care of the soil, our future is condemned. We can’t survive on Twinkies alone. (But it sure would be *fun…*for an hour or so.)

2. A handful of soil contains tens of billions of creepy-crawly microorganisms. These organisms keep plants, animals, and the planet alive.

3. Industrial farming is eroding the soil and disrupting its structure. We’ve lost a third of our topsoil in the last 100 years.

4. When there are miles and miles of only one species and one variety growing on our farms, as there is in modern-day industrial agriculture, this creates a vulnerable system. Monocultures are dangerous to our future. Diversifying crops on our farms, especially in drought, can keep the system from collapsing.

5. When we grow just one species on our farms, it’s an all-you-can-eat restaurant for pests. Once a pest learns to unlock the key to that plant, you have a pest infestation, and then you add pesticides. Exposure to pesticides, especially in children, has been linked to higher birth defect rates, cancer, learning disabilities, and abnormal hormonal changes.

6. Insects and plants are so like us physiologically, cell to cell, protein to protein, gene to gene, that if a pesticide is going to kill plants and insects, it’s going to kill humans, too. *Ta-da!*

7. Chemicals (synthetic fertilizers and pesticides) deplete the life of the soil. They take away the structure and the moisture of the soil. They take away the very organisms that make the soil fertile. When you add a layer of compost to your dirt, instead of a nasty chemical fertilizer, you’re adding life to your dirt, and can then call it “soil.”

Repeat after me: *Compost, compost, compost*.

8. When the land is dead and we add synthetic nitrogen fertilizer to feed the crops, only about 20 percent goes to the plant roots. In the Midwest, the rest of the wasted fertilizer flows into the rivers and streams, and then into the Gulf of Mexico. This excess fertilizer feeds algae that grow and suffocate nearly all of the marine life, creating “dead zones” where only jellyfish survive. This mobile nitrogen combines with oxygen, which forms nitrous oxide and rises into the atmosphere accelerating climate change. Twenty-five percent of greenhouse-gas emissions come from agriculture.

9. In India, farmers have been pushed to buy more genetically modified seeds, chemical fertilizers, insecticides, and tractors. Now a farming activity that was zero cost is increasingly expensive. In India, over the last decade an *estimated 200,000 farmers have killed themselves*, many by drinking the pesticide they can no longer afford.

As farmers around the world go broke and lose their farms, their land is taken over by international agribusinesses that grow genetically modified single crops for a globalized economy.

10. Each year 100 million trees are turned into 20 million mail-order catalogues.

• Sunday, May 02nd, 2010

I don’t intend to pick on Westmount since every community on the island probably has a similarly large ecological footprint.

Westmount Ecological Footprint

Westmount's Ecological footprint is the red, outer-most border

Nevertheless, it is just amazing when you look at the map above. The BLUE border is the physical size of Westmount. The RED border is the ecological footprint, or the size of the Earth’s resources it devours. The GREEN border represents the “ideal ecological footprint” according to some academic (see the full research here).

The source of Westmount's ecological footprintWhat’s the #1 source of this enormous ecological footprint? WASTE with 59% of the entire footprint! Waste has to be carried far away by gas powered vehicles and then stored in a place that takes space away from farms, towns and other productive spaces.

So, the #1 way to reduce your ecological footprint is to Compost! Yea, compost! It’s easy, it’s fun and you get empowered in the face of this ecological train-wreck called “modern, western life.”