Rumble Pie #3|
Back To Earth
AT THE VERY START of the millennium, the City Councillors Waste Diversion Task Force committed themselves to reducing Toronto's solid waste production to absolute zero by the year 2010. But two years ago, having failed to ramp up the recycling program to appropriate levels, City Council disappointingly revised its own goals downward and resolved themselves to reducing Toronto's solid waste production to only thirty per cent by 2010. Bay Street bureaucrats sift through the statistics and juggle the numbers in order to put the best possible face on a dirty dilemma. Meanwhile, garbage collectors go on strike this week, and the termination of Toronto's contract with the Michigan landfill looms on the horizon mere months away.
MOST TORONTONIANS want their waste to be out of sight and out of mind. And starting next year, the City of London has already agreed to receive our garbage for the next half-century, so municipal politicians would prefer that the pollution issue be put to rest. Few Londoners have protested the plan, because residential tap water within city limits is drawn from Lake Huron. But First Nations people living on the land drink from groundwater wells, which is going to be poisoned by toxic seepage from the waste that you and I produce every day. We shamefully recall the purposeful mass murder of the buffalo food communities that were the lifesblood of the native North American Indians. So how can we be complicit in the destruction of their natural way of life once again?
WE MUST PUT PRESSURE on our elected leaders and demand that they find viable alternatives to these acts of environmental racism. But we must also become these viable alternatives, shoulder a greater share of our social responsibilities. Of all of the possible waste diversion programs that might be implemented, composting must be the most exciting. For when we recycle our used glass jars and plastic bottles, they must still be sorted, baled, bid on, and then transported, sometimes overseas, to manufacturers who would reuse them in new industrial processes. An enormous amount of embedded energy is required to give this garbage new life, and then in the end, it comes back to haunt us as an additional increase in consumer goods.
BUT WHEN WE COLLECT compost, all of that organic material can be reused locally to amend precious soil. Several hundred years of industrial agriculture has degraded the topsoil quality on this continent to frighteningly low levels; but composting turns waste products into valuable resources, problems into solutions. And what's more, we don't need to inject any external energy sources into our composters to affect that transformation; microscopic species and ordinary earthworms don't have to be cajoled into breaking down our former foodstuffs. They just go about their daily business, and we are the fortuitous beneficiaries of this bacterial breakdown. Household composting is the earthen alchemy that turns our trash into black gold.
UNFORTUNATELY, THERE IS currently no compost collection for the commercial sector in the City of Toronto. And so here at Green Apple, we've taken it upon ourselves to convert our trash into nutrient-rich treasure. GA Lead Hand Victor Traicus has built a beautiful two-bin composter system for use at our offices. And what's more, he's even improved upon previous designs, by installing wagon wheels on the bottom, making it movable so that we can cart it around our compound with ease. We're uploading these photos so that it might inspire others to do similarly. Great work, Victor! Maybe we won't change the whole world in one fell swoop, but we can start to come correct and do our part, beginning in our own backyard.