Community composting

Pedal to Petal, which uses bicycles with trailers to go around and pick up people's compost.

These guys are cool! Fed up with watching food and garden waste going to, well, waste, they started a pickup service. It’s called Pedal to Petal, and the whole idea is to help people that want to make sure their food scraps end up somewhere other than landfill.

Pedal to Petal is a cooperative, a group of enthusiasts that decided to made something happen and are getting out there and doing it. They provide local residents with a small bin for kitchen scraps. They then collect the bins by bicycle on a regular basis and compost them using a network of backyard composters.

Currently, they’re collecting from more than 160 households in their little corner of Canada.

“We’re carbon-neutral; arguably, carbon-negative,” says Matt Schultz, a student at the University of Victoria who runs the day-to-day operations of Pedal to Petal with Johnson.

“We’re delighted to see that more and more people no longer find putting compostable material into the landfill garbage stream acceptable,” Schultz says.

Pedal to Petal wants to generate jobs and grow food for low-income people in Victoria. The group gives its compost to gardens that donate food to the community, such as the Haultain Common, a boulevard garden in the Oaklands neighbourhood.

The article talks about the different methods of composting that can be used in an urban setting. They talk about Bokashi but haven’t yet tested the many ways it can work as part of an overall solution. Digging fermented Bokashi into the ground is the standard solution. For people living in apartments, a balcony or cellar “soil factory” can be ideal (see our blog here!), and can be done on an individual or collective basis. Bokashi also works really well incorporated into traditional composting, not only is it a nicer and healthier way of collecting the scraps indoors, it cuts down the frequency of collection needed and makes a hell of a difference to composting speed outdoors.

When it comes to greenhouse gases, traditional composting is not the hero you’d like to think. A lot of methane and co2 is generated from the rotting process and ideally we should be using more carbon neutral solutions that store the carbon. Bokashi scores a 10 on this one as the food-to-soil conversion is done with virtually all of the carbon preserved intact. Where it should be, in the soil and not in the air.

But ultimately, the first step is the big one; whatever form of composting or fermenting or whatnot you decide to use, just get stuck in and do it. Anything that diverts food and yard waste  from landfill and gets it back into the soil is a good thing. And a huge improvement on what we’re doing now.

Not to mention how much we’d all benefit from a little more good old-fashioned community spirit. Good on you, guys!

Read the Canadian article here!

Family are winners in war on waste

Photo: Shields Gazette

Cool story here about a family in the UK that have become champions. In the very down-to-earth business of cutting down the amount of waste they throw out.

The winning family, Vicky and David Borrell their baby Isaac managed to win the prize by cutting their food waste by 100 per cent. They simply stopped throwing out food they couldn’t eat.

The article says they saved some £57 a week on their grocery bill in the process. (Which sounds like a huge amount of money to me — but even if its a media beatup the point still holds. There’s money to be had in this. UK research says the average family wastes £610 a year by throwing food away.)

Eight other local families were involved in the six-week challenge to see how much they could reduce their food waste. They got some help along the way, tips on how to reduce food waste in the kitchen as well as how to keep the scraps out of landfill by composting and/or using a wormery or bokashi bin.

In the UK, food waste is still being sent to the tip where it causes nothing but trouble for the environment. Methane and carbon dioxide from landfill are major contributors to the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. The obvious solution is to stop doing it. Deal with the food waste in a way which is carbon-friendly. (And needless to say, Bokashi is the most carbon-friendly of the above options.)

This was a really cool initiative. Imagine the effect it would have if we ran fun competitions like this all over the place, make people part of the change and create everyday heros who can help inspire us. It’s easy to be daunted by the huge impact of climate change and forget how many small, everyday things there are that we can get stuck in and do. Here and now!

Source: Shields Gazette

Try Bokashi in your vacuum cleaner!

Vaccleaner

Now I’m not the person you should come and talk to about cleaning. Vacuum cleaning is amongst the worse things I know. But the cleaner did actually come out in the weekend here and it reminded me that I really should mention my little Bokashi-in-the-vacuum-cleaner trick.

Actually, it’s dead easy. Toss a handful of Bokashi on the floor and suck it up with the vacuum cleaner. It gets into the bag and goes to work there, the microbes make a home amongst the dust and debris that’s accumulated from the floor.

I imagine it’s healthier, after all the Bokashi bacteria are “good guys” and they go to work straight away to outnumber the “bad guys” that came in with the dust. But best of all is the smell. Or lack of it.

What I really REALLY hate about vacuum cleaning is the smell of the hot air that comes out of the thing. And that’s a lot better now than it’s ever been. A really nice little side benefit of Bokashi that makes life a bit easier.

And actually, I do pull out the vacuum cleaner slightly more often now than I used to!

Local recycling at best — right under the apple tree!

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Actually this is not the really deep and meaningful rave it could be about dealing with our waste ourselves, cutting down what we throw out and dealing with it as close to home as possible.

Although it does go to the heart of the matter in its way. It’s about my apple tree. How we trimmed it back hard and good in the weekend. And every last bit got used. Right there on the spot.

For a start, the deer had already eaten most of the apples. Which is ok, because they look nicer than they taste (the apples I mean, not the deer). But the branches that were growing every which way came off in a thick pile on the ground.

Should we compost them? Mulch them? Stack them on the too-hard pile for the winter?

Easiest solution was just to chop them into big bits, arm-length or so, and just pile them up under the tree itself. Soon enough they’ll sag down into a carpet, and in a month or two they’ll freeze and be covered in snow. Nature will do its work there over the winter and what I’m expecting in the spring is a nice patch of healthy soil under the apple tree where we can plant a few flowers for the summer. The big branches that are left will be easy to pick away, best of all is the fantastic work that the small guys do for us, all the time, while we’re not even looking. The microbes, the worms, the hedgehogs too for all we know.

I think it’s neat. Feels right, gives the soil a lift, the worms a home and for a rather lazy gardener such as myself its definitely the way to go.

This must be a million more ideas for local recycling right under our nose. Got any to share?

(Oh, and obviously I should have mentioned, I scattered a couple of handfuls of Bokashi bran over the leaves to help get the microbes get going on their task. If I get some spare Bokashi juice in the next couple of weeks I’ll toss that on too.)