The Garbage Project – The “Do What I Say Not As I Do” Edition – a peek into City Hall garbage (literally)

April 27, 2016 and another “Garbage Project” post. So let’s start with an update. The City of Red Deer passed the policy to reduce the household limit of garbage from 5 bags to 3 (500L to 300L per week). The blanket policy passed, even though the numbers make no sense. Those championing the policy may feel they have “won”, but the truth is they will never truly reduce garbage going to the landfill until they base the amount allowance proportionately (per occupant of the household) rather than per household. But enough on that for now, we will visit the changing face of Canadian households in another post.

blog city hall

Up until 8:00 pm this evening this post was going to be taking a different direction, and then I went and picked up my son at the library, the library located right next to City Hall.

As I sat in the car I thought “Does City Hall Park have recycle bins?”, followed by “Okay kids, we’re going for a walk.”…….there is only one way to find out, and that is to look. We walked the whole of City Hall Park, and while we found plenty of garbage cans there were no units for the recycling of plastics, paper, organics or refundables. A bit surprising seeing as the City’s new limit is partly because they feel households are not directing items properly for recycling and yard waste.

blog garbage bin city hall

So I continued to walk, coming to the area the gardeners use for tools, incoming plants and such. I see the composters and think “great”. I see the sign on the composters mentioning the “Compost at Home” program, and this is also a good thing. But then you stop to think, why isn’t there a composter for visitors eating lunch in the park to use, for organics like apple cores and banana peels?

blog composters

blog compost sign

Detail of the “Compost at Home” sign.

Now as I took the above picture I noticed a stench, and it wasn’t the composters, it smelled like garbage. It was bad. So I continued walking south down the sidewalk only to find a dumpster.

blog dumpster 3

The dumpster would not have caught my interest except for one thing. Can you spot it, the item that peaked my interest? Top right-hand corner……………the branch.

You see the City of Red Deer has a “yard waste” program which is used to divert yard waste from going in the landfill. Now this dumpster has to have some affiliation to the City of Red Deer as the only destinations on this block are City Hall Park, Red Deer Public Library and City Hall. Everyone connected to these organizations would know about the yard waste program, yet yard waste was visibly sticking out of a dumpster smelling of trash.

Now you all know what happened next…of course you do…..I went in for a closer look (wouldn’t you?!).

blog dumpster 1

And then closer yet!

blog dumpster 2

A quick glance and you can see yard waste (tree branch and grass clippings), recyclable cardboard,  recyclable plastics (coffee cup tops and clear plastic cups), refundable and recyclable bottles, food wrappers and a pair of shoes.

This is a visual of “public” garbage. This is a visual of “commercial” garbage. No separating out of recyclables, refundables or yard waste. Everything is “garbage” when it comes to “public” or “commercial” garbage.

This is garbage maybe 200 feet from City Hall.

The City says the residents need to do more, recycle more, divert recyclables and yard waste from the landfill, but this is what I find in the dumpster at the edge of City Hall Park. The dumpster, at the edge of City Hall Park, shows zero effort to divert waste appropriately from the landfill.

I think at this point we realize the waste reduction policy is a case of “do as I say not as I do”.

blog library

So I carry on around the corner and decide to take a peek into the foyer of the library. I found a container for refundable bottles and cans and a blue bin (I will assume for paper waste from its position). So a little bit better.

blog cans and bottles

blog library blue bin

Of course there is room for improvement remembering that this space shares a cafe. What about recycling for non-refundable plastics (food containers), organics, and a more obvious spot for waste paper and newspaper. Also what about public education? The perfect spot to educate as people at the library are tuned in to reading and learning. After all how many people know what is included in the new expanded recycling program?

And so in one door and out the other (the design of the foyer, literally), and I was in front of the City Hall in seconds.

blog window garbage city hall

I glance up to the window and see….garbage…….A LOT OF GARBAGE.

blog city hall garbage

So much garbage they need a cart to wheel it around.

Is this one day’s worth of garbage, or a week’s worth? It would be interesting to know. However in a building that is essentially an office building that is a lot of garbage.

Let’s think about it. Paper waste should be the bulk of waste in an office building, and that is recyclable. Our city is testing an organics program, so all lunch waste should be taken care of in that manner. Plastics such as bottles and food containers are recyclable , as are cardboards. A city so set on being “green” should have hand driers instead of paper towels in the washrooms, cutting down on washroom waste. So why does City Hall create so much waste?

Why does City Hall create so much waste while blaming households for the filling of the landfill?

Why is the dumpster on the edge of City Hall Park full of recyclable products?

blog city hall cigarettesI descended the steps of City Hall with many thoughts running through my mind, Only to see this…..

blog city hall cigarettes close up

…yes the lids are recyclable, and this is where the workers of City Hall stand daily having their “smoke break”. Not even the garbage could be deposited in the garbage can. Pretty sad.

The pictures speak for themselves. If City Hall wishes to reduce the volume of waste going to the landfill and increase recycling they need to set the example. They aren’t.

Now I am left wondering even more so the intent behind the waste reduction initiative. City Hall, City Hall Park and public buildings should be the poster child of being green. These are the places that are perfect for the education of the public, and the creation of new habits with regards to the management of waste. City Hall, which operates in a similar fashion to a commercial operation such as an office building, should be both an inspiration and a resource to the business sector.

After what I viewed this evening I had a thought, quite a sad thought actually. The thought was ……is the new waste reduction policy a way to place the blame of the quantity of waste going into the landfill on the homeowners in an effort to divert blame from commercial operations such as restaurants, fast food, and cafes? Think about it. Do you ever see paper, cardboard or plastics recycling at any of these places? No, only refundables (because they are worth money!). Have you ever seen organics recycling? Never. Everything goes in the garbage bin. A working couple might eat 11 meals at home during the week creating minimal organic waste, while restaurants feed hundreds daily creating mounds of half eaten food, plastic cups and cardboard and plastic containers.

Looking at the waste management in City Hall Park, in public buildings and in public spaces (such as parks), there is a big disconnect when being considered along the “waste reduction ” policy. The average household output of garbage was already well under the limit, which makes one wonder “what’s the real deal?”, because there is way more to this story than just waste reduction.


And now for this week’s stats:

This week we produced:

2.5 – 75L bags of garbage

blog garbage 1

4-5 buckets of compost (I’ve been making dehydrated fruit resulting in a lot of peels…..that’s what happens when you get apples for $4 a case!)

blog compost 1

2 large bins of recycling (last week’s pic!)

blog recycle 1

……plus refundable cans and bottles but no yard waste


Garbage around the block ( from our romantic midnight walk:) ) , from this week on I will count each house even if no garbage is put out :

House 1 – 2 occupants – 2 .5 regular sized garbage cans (75-77L)

House 2 – 3 occupants – 1 regular sized garbage can , one large bin of recycling, 1 garden waste

House 3 – 2 occupants – 0 garbage, 0 recycling, 0 garden waste

House 4 – 2 occupants – 2 regular sized garbage cans (75-77L), three garden waste bins, one recycling

House 5 – 2 occupants – 2 garbage cans , half garden waste bin, half recycling bin

House 6 – 2 occupants – 0 garbage, 0 recycling, 0 garden waste (second week running, no bins out after pick up either)

House 7 –  0 occupants – 5 garbage bags (owner is still cleaning up after past renters, huge job)

House 8 – 1 occupant – 1 garbage bag , two recycling bins

House 9 – 1 occupant – 2 garbage bag , four garden waste bins, one recycling

House 10 – 3 occupants – 0 waste (they put out their garbage very late when they get in from work; last week one garbage bin and one yard waste)

House 11 –  7 occupants –  2.5 garbage bags , two large bins of recycling

______________________________________________

Stay tuned for next week. Who knows where looking at garbage will take us.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Ads belong to WordPress.

 

Happy Earth Day – eco-printing …fashion from the earth

102 scarf eco print detail 2

I thought sharing a post on eco-printing was a suitable post on Earth Day. A lot of the textile work I do focuses on natural and plant based processes rather than chemicals.

The scarf pictured above has been eco printed. This is a process where the silk has been dyed with the natural occurring pigments of leaves through a lengthy process of bundling the item tightly to achieve the best contact with the leaves. Results can vary depending on the time of year the leaf is picked, the length of time of the bundling, the type of fabric , and the mordants used.

The leaves on this scarf are peony and maple, picked from the garden. Results are always very random with a combination of leaf prints and abstract shapes and lines.

If you are interested in seeing more images of this scarf, and how it looks while being worn, there is a gallery on my other site www.handmade-canada.com , or click here for the link .

Eco-printing and slow cloth by Debra Hunter

.

.

.

.

.

.

Ads belong to WordPress.

The Garbage Project – The City Wants To Put MORE In The Landfill?…..when numbers don’t add up

blog compost 1

The more I look into this garbage situation with the City of Red Deer the more interesting it becomes. Now I will admit I find running numbers on projects strangely fascinating, and many a good evening has been spent creating spreadsheets on renovations, builds and business costings. It is interesting. I like to break down things into units, and then multiply by populations to see what the real picture is. I do this with everything……it’s interesting.

Over the last couple of days I have received emails with a bit more information on the garbage situation, and I truly am thankful for these emails. They are helpful.

This blog post is going to be quite short, mostly a “number run”, it is interesting.

But first a little background. We live in the city of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada and recently the City of Red Deer has started to work toward passing a policy for “waste limit reduction”. The policy aims to reduce the garbage picked up at the curb from 5 units to 3 units with a unit equaling a 100L garbage bag. This policy is a blanket policy so that no matter how many people reside in your household the limit is the same. Personally we think garbage output limits should be based on occupancy. If scaling back what goes in the landfill is the goal,  the limits per household need to be based proportionately on the number of people residing in the dwelling (after all a census is done each year to provide that very information!).

Now on with the numbers (2015 census, plus info from Waste Management)…….

Population of Red Deer -100,807

Number of households – 42,034

Average occupancy per household – 2.4 people

Average output of garbage per household – 1.8 units (180 L)

Proposed limit for waste to the landfill – 3 units ( 300L )

Before we get started with the breakdown, I am just going to add a quote from a Waste Management email I received this morning just to give an idea of quantities:

” Thank you for your email. The average Red Deerian household sets out 1.8 units of garbage per week but yes, there are still those that set out four to five units of garbage per week. “

So Lets do the numbers:

Current quantities going into the landfill: 42,034 households x1.8 units = 75,661.2 units per week

Proposed policy to limit waste: 42,034 households x 3 units – 126,102 units per week

The proposed limit to REDUCE landfill waste would actually put, in theory,  50,440.8 MORE units in the landfill, or 5,044,080 L more, if households utilized their full limit allowed.

neighbourhood bags of garbage not mine

I have had two arguments with this policy, the first that it discriminates against large households.

As I wrote this afternoon in an email to one of our councillors:
“The current average of units per household is 1.8 units. The 3 unit limit only affects large households. I have to know, did the councillors have the 1.8 unit statistic? If they did, it is clear this policy is consciously discriminatory against large households as large output (4 or 5 units as per Waste Management) is an anomaly as are large households. This is smacking of the same mentality as Rachel Notley saying everyone should drive Fiat 500’s…..large families don’t FIT in Fiat 500’s……again discrimination against large families.”

 Let’s break down the average unit produced per average household.
1.8 units (divided by) 2.4 people = .75 units
Under the new policy any household with 4 or less people can continue to produce the same amount of garbage per occupant as they currently produce ( .75 units x 4 occupants = 3 units). Only households of 5 or more occupants are penalized.
If the Council knew of the average of 1.8 units per household, they knew the large outputs were an anomaly, just like large households are an anomaly. This policy then is unfairly targeting large households. It is a discriminatory policy.
You can’t expect major impact by targeting the minority of households.
blog recycle 1
My second argument is that the limits on waste should be proportionate to household size. That everyone is responsible to reduce their own personal waste; everyone should do their equal share. That reduction should be FAIR.
So let’s run the numbers in that scenario:

average household output 1.8 units (divided by) average occupancy of 2.4 people = .75 units (or 75L or 1 regular Glad garbage bag)

(Now just an aside to Councillor Lee, as that amount of 75L cropped up in an email discussion we had regarding potential waste limits and waste limits being proportionate. I didn’t actually have the statistics at the time of the email, but it is interesting how the quantity aligned…I had suggested a system of on regular bag of garbage per occupant per week….75L)

Let’s carry on with the proportionate concept.

If each person was allowed .75 units x 100,807 people = 75,605.25 units per week , 55.95 units LESS than the current situation, or 50,496.75 units less than what the city is proposing.

Is anyone else scratching their heads yet?

blog garbage 1

(gosh, I said this would be short, but it never is….)

Now Waste Management also wrote this:

“When the five unit limit was introduced to Red Deerians in 1999, we saw an increase of 8.4% in recyclable materials in the blue box and 33.7% increase in yard waste collected for composting. We hope to see something similar if the three unit limit is adopted.”

So I think, if we were to assess, the goal is less waste to the landfill, more recycling and yard waste, and eventually organics, diverted from the landfill portion of waste management. Great, a clear direction.

Now realistically, I think the City will only see minor changes in yard waste. Seeing this change is purely down to public education and communicating with the community.

With regards to recycling, again information and communication is key, information and education is grossly lacking, the garbage limit will not solve this. There is a lot the City can do to improve this, the limit isn’t it. (This one might be a future blog post of what should be being done.)

However if the City want to REDUCE what goes in the landfill it is only going to work with a proportionate decrease based on occupancy.

Here is the plan:

1. each year after the census is complete the bag allotment is issued per household for the year
2. the allotment is then divided by 12 for months and added to the monthly City bill information
3. garbage men just take a simple tally of bags per household picking up  – simple tally
4. the tally is fed in when doing monthly billing, any excess is charged out on the City bill
5. any surplus is carried to the next month as a gesture (this could also provide a small buffer if occupancy changes in the dwelling further into the year)
 So let’s say the City wanted to reduce quantities to the landfill by 20%. Based on the current volume going to the landfill it is roughly one 75L garbage bag per person per week. To meet that goal the residents shift their “garbage goal” to 60L per week or one 121L garbage bag every two week (Glad’s “extra large ” bag is 121L….so an easy visual way to work).
If we went with the proportionate system, this is how the numbers pan out.
.60 units x 100,807 people = 60,484.20 units per week compared to the proposed limits which could realistically and without penalty put 126,102 units per week. 65,617.8 units less.
With proportionate limits, and each person producing just 15 L less a week (or 3.75 large milk jugs to use one councillor’s measuring system) the City could actually reduce fairly what reaches the landfill.
Proportionate limits is the only way to fairly reduce waste.
neighbourhood garbage not mine
 It has been quite difficult to get people to understand where I am coming from on this topic of waste limits. Most do not hear what I am saying and think I am “against” reducing waste. I am not against reducing waste, I am against a policy that takes a blanket approach, a policy that penalizes the minority and lets the majority carry on with the same habits even though they are producing more waste per person. Proportionate limits are fair and effective, and easy to implement . It is time for fair and effective policies.
blog compost 1
(We still need to talk recycling and compost, the boat is being missed, but that is a discussion for another day.)
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Ads belong to WordPress.

Time To Help Out Alberta

destroying alberta logo

Hello my blogging friends. This is a plea to see if some of you can help to get a project I am working on out to social media, especially if you have connections to Canada, or more specifically, Alberta.

The Alberta economy is tanking and in true fashion I have a bit of a problem keeping my mouth shut. I don’t like seeing our province destroyed, I don’t like seeing families destroyed and there seems to be no end to the devastation the NDP government can inflict on our population. We all know more unemployment and taxation is coming.

So, I can either sit on social media and complain, or do something. So I have “done” something. I have put up a new Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/destroyingalberta/ ) and a new website www.destroyingalberta.com . The concept of the page is to start to share the stories of how the NDP government, their policies, their taxation and their ability to create economic instability has affected the lives of real Albertan families.

It is time to put a “face” to the statistics.

bw carbon tax

A similar thing was done by photographers during the dustbowl in the US, and it brought a lot of attention to the plight of the real person. This can do the same. Now we have the internet so that all of Alberta can send in their stories.

We need to show the REAL price Albertans are paying. The trickle-down economy is real, and now it isn’t just oil and gas workers losing their jobs.

So I am genuinely asking if any of you reading this can pass on the sites through your friends and social media.

We need to show the damage the government has done and we need to do this to halt any further expenditures or ill informed policies.

Thank you for reading.

Debra

The Garbage Project – April 20, 2016

blog garbage 1This is week one of tracking our garbage, compost and recyclables. We started this project after the City of Red Deer proposed a change in waste limits, a change where no matter how many people reside in your household the limit is the same. Personally we think garbage output limits should be based on occupancy. If scaling back what goes in the landfill is the goal,  the limits per household need to be based proportionately on the number of people residing in the dwelling (after all a census is done each year to provide that very information!).

So in order to see what we produce for garbage, recycling and compost we have decided to track for a few weeks what goes out on collection day.

This week we produced:

2 – 75L bags of garbage

blog garbage 1

1/3 bucket of compost

blog compost 1

3 large bins of recycling

blog recycle 1

……plus refundable cans and bottles plus a significant amount of yard waste

So this is quite interesting coming in at 150L of garbage for a family of seven. I will admit we were out of town one day, and with school interviews and other commitments probably ate dinner out a couple of times which of course put dinner “garbage” in someone else’s bin not ours.

We also decided to walk around the block late this evening to see what others put out.

Garbage around the block:

House 1 – 2 occupants – 2 regular sized garbage cans (75-77L), one garden waste bin

House 2 – 3 occupants – 1 regular sized garbage can , one large bin of recycling

House 3 – 2 occupants – 1 regular sized garbage can , one large bin of recycling

House 4 – 2 occupants – 2 regular sized garbage cans (75-77L), one garden waste bin, one large bin of recycling

House 5 – 1 occupant – 1 garbage bag , one garden waste bin

House 6 – 1 occupant – 1 garbage bag , one garden waste bin

***the rest of the occupied homes had not put garbage out yet

So this is quite interesting, if the City of Red Deer is bringing in new waste restrictions of 300L per week in order to reduce landfill amounts, according to garbage from around our block, exactly the same amount of garbage will reach the landfill as everyone is under the 300L volume. A few more weeks of tracking will give a clearer picture of what people average putting out.

The other thing I kept an eye on was what went in the “garbage”. Wrappers, cellophane, plastic wrap, paper towels, coffee cups, tissues, drier lint, debris from vacuuming. Only one food item, off carrot cake, hit the bin as I watched (seriously how does cake go off in a house with 5 kids?) which again makes me question the panic in BC over food scraps.

Stay tuned for next weeks’ findings. This is quite intriguing.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Ads belong to WordPress.

 

 

 

Painting Challenge – The First 8 Days

An artist I follow on Instagram has decided to do a challenge of 100 paintings in 100 days. Through virtual chatting she suggested that I give it a go too. I have just completed the first 8 days. All these paintings were painted live on location, or “en plein air”. 4 are painted in acrylic, 3 in oil and one is a watercolor. On www.debra-hunter.com I have been tracking each of the paintings on the “en plein air” page. Some I love, some I don’t, but I guess that is bound to happen when you usually have less than an hour to paint.

Now I need to make a decision, continue with “en plein air” or move to a another style for a week to explore? Do I return to my usual “studio” painting, try portraits, or maybe abstracts? I will have to have a think, and see what tomorrow brings.

Painting by Debra Hunter

.

.

.

.

.

.

Ads belong to WordPress.