Beautiful Brown Bin

Recycling paper and plastic is pretty much the norm now. Almost everyone has blue box that weekly makes its way to the end of the driveway. Did you know though,  that the organic material finding its way from kitchen counters to landfills accounts for almost 50% of all waste collected and contributes up to 3% of Canada’s green house gas emissions? By organic material, I mean the stuff that nature gave us in the first place; the carrot and potato peelings, the melon shells and the wilted lettuce from the fridge as well as other table scraps including even meats and breads. These are all examples of household waste that can be converted to organic fertilizer.

Composting is a simple and beneficial way to support multiple levels of our eco system.  It improves air quality, helps to grow more nutrient rich fruits and vegetables, and reduces potential ground water contamination.  The Borough of Cote St Luc has taken the lead on composting in the greater Montreal area and Big Hanna from Sweden, the largest commercial composter in Canada, belongs to McGill University and is located on its downtown campus. McGill’s Gorilla Composting organization has been working for years becoming a Canadian leader in composting.

In Montreal $215 million dollars over five years is being been slated to build 4 organic waste treatment plants in the Montreal region to process residential organic waste that will be collected weekly.  The goal is to convert what’s collected into compost and biofuel. This will make it easy for city dwellers to give back to Mother Nature as communes and Kibbutzim in Israel have been doing for years.

Today my brown bin was delivered here in Dollard Des Ormeaux. It looks quite similar to the one pictured here on the left. This now means that besides all of the fruit and veggie peelings, egg shells and coffee grounds that we already put into our own composter, we’ll now have a place to scrape dinner leftovers that might include salad dressing, olive oil , or even cheese or meat. This is good news for us all, the less “rotting” food that ends up in our landfills, the better our overall air quality and ground water. The better the air quality, the less respiratory issues. Really health of people and planet are interdependent.

If your municipality does not yet have the facility to collect organic waste from you, why not start composting at home? Here’s some information that can get you started.

Composting is a natural and biological breakdown of organic material by micro-organisms, fungi and bacteria, and for the biological breakdown to occur the proper environment needs to be created. Where do we begin in our humble homes? – First, getting or building a composter, and having smaller receptacle like a stainless steel bucket with lid for your kitchen scraps is the beginning. (Most boroughs offer composters for purchase at a discounted price.) Both “green” and brown” materials need to be alternately fed to your composter. The GREENS are your nitrogen rich materials like fruit and vegetable scraps and peelings, coffee grounds and tea bags, and crushed egg shells and the BROWNS are the carbon rich materials such as dry leaves, bread, pasta and rice as well as well shredded paper and paper towels.  Simply put, the “greens” is usually the wet stuff from your kitchen and the browns are usually dry. Small changes to your household waste management habits and personal composting is a painless and invaluable contribution you can make towards improving the health of the environment, and yourselves.

Remember not all organic waste from your home can can be used in your home composter, the meats and grease type waste needs to be disposed of rather than composted and the way you layer its contents and care for them is important, and there are some great websites with step by step instructions like the one from London, Ontario http://www.london.ca/d.aspx?s=/Recycling_and_Composting/Compost_at_home.htm, and the Compost Montreal also has graphical downloadable document that demonstrates what is ok and not ok to compost found here: http://www.compostmontreal.com/compostables.

While any new task or change takes a while to become habit, this one is simple and makes sense, and definitely reduces the amount of true waste that needs to be carted off to the landfills. You know what they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, in this case all our trash once converted to quality compost is a treasure for us all.

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