Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tennis Anyone?

While reading Kuhn's paper, my mind traveled to work...and back. The City of Calgary has launched a Food and Yard Waste pilot program in four communities which runs for the next year. The goal is to decrease dependency on landfills and create a valuable product-compost-out of the organic material diverted through the program.

It's clear the "Green Cart" has been a controversial issue thus far in Calgary. Based on surveys conducted through a third party in the communities selected in the pilot program, 64% of those surveyed believed that organics broke down in the landfill. This is not the case. At least not at a rapid rate. The anaerobic conditions in a landfill cell lack the environment organics require to decompose.

I pulled the phrase "nature's failure to conform entirely to expectation" (Kuhn, 1962) out of the reading to remind myself that there is misinformation or a lack of education regarding organics in the landfill available to the general public in Calgary, and beyond. We expect nature to look after materials like grass, leaves, and food. Instead we are the failure in our waste management past. How can we encourage change?

(The photo is from a cell from the 1970s which has been excavated. We found green grass, newspapers, pine cones, cans, bottles, clothing, and all sorts of treasures from yesteryears).


  1. we have green bins in toronto and surrounding areas now, and as far as i know people use them pretty well (so do the raccoons). what is not clear is what happens to the compost they supposedly generate.

    also, the biggest problem has been "compostable bags". something to carry the green waste from your kitchen to the green bin outside. paper and some of the plastic ones are so compostable, the start degrading in the kitchen, and then you get coffee grounds all over the living room floor. others clearly won't degrade at all and are contaminating the green waste. why is it that people's laziness in walking outside once per day has caused such a problem and created a giant industry in unnecessary bags?!?

  2. Hey Kim
    Great posting. Love the photo :) What will archaeologists of the future (if there is one) have to say about our society, as they dig down through the layers of the average city dump?

    1. Burl: I was speaking with a group of grade four students today. They think we will be finding thousands of disposable coffee cups!

  3. Bliz: this is a great point. It would be great to have a completely bag less program. However for convenience sake, residents can choose to use the bags so long as the bags are certified compostable or paper. The City is providing residents with a "kitchen catcher" to keep their indoor kitchen scraps in to avoid the drippings.
    Items can go into the bin loose as well...totally up to the resident.
    As for the laziness factor...well I can't say that I disagree with you!

    1. we have the "kitchen catchers" too (most people chose to buy a shiny silver bin instead).
      the difference i think is that in cal-gary items can go into the bin loose. not possible in t-dot (where they have to be bagged). good call cow-town.
      on the other hand, wait til summer and see how those green bins reek.
      -liz ( as not to be confused with liz freyman, who should be known as fliz)