Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cowichan Valley Citizen Editorial

Everyone needs curbside organics collection

The Citizen

Published: Friday, November 12, 2010

Well it's about time.

Finally, one area in the Cowichan Valley (excluding Ladysmith) is instituting curbside organics collection.

We applaud the City of Duncan for getting on board with eliminating compostable materials from the waste stream.

As stated in the article in today's Citizen, by taking away all of the meat scraps, pizza boxes, and other kitchen waste, Duncan can expect to cut down on the amount of garbage headed for the landfill by 35 to 40 per cent.

That is an incredible number, and one we hope the other municipalities and electoral areas in the region are taking a good, hard look at.

Here in the Valley we currently have a very undesirable solution to waste -- we ship it out of town. Out of sight, out of mind.

It is unlikely we will be able to continue to do this indefinitely, which means we will be in for a shock when we are forced to face our waste, so to speak.

Look at all the outcry over where to locate a waste transfer station in the south end of the Valley.

Imagine the difficulty of trying to locate an actual landfill -- it boggles the mind.

Add to that the fact that we are far behind here in terms of diverting organics from the waste stream, and you see the need quite clearly for us to pull our socks up and get with the times.

Even Ladysmith, which has now been collecting compostables at the curb for several years, was late to the party compared to most of Canada.

From the Maritimes to Toronto, municipalities have been collecting and composting kitchen waste and other organics for more than a decade.

These programs have worked very well. Some have even included yard and garden waste in their organics pickup, thereby eliminating much of the problem of backyard burning.

We were thoroughly disappointed to hear the Town of Lake Cowichan back away from their plan to institute a similar organics collection scheme in recent months.

The issue, apparently, was one of cost.

We think that we are rapidly coming to the point where we will not be able to afford not to -- much like Victoria is finally having to bite the bullet and properly treat its sewage before it gets pumped out into our coastal waters.

Gone are the days when it was okay to empty your oil down the nearest storm drain or into the nearest ditch. Gone are the days when it was commonplace to just take all of your garbage out into the backyard and burn it anytime you felt like it.

These are not things for which we should be nostalgic.

It's time for the whole Valley to follow Duncan and Ladysmith.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cowichan Valley Citizen Compost Coverage

Duncan coming for meat scraps, pizza boxes

Katie Harris of the Cowichan Recyclists demonstrates how Duncan residents will be able to take part in the upcoming wide-ranging compost pick-up program, expected to begin in February. Aaron Bichard photo

Kevin Rothbauer, The Citizen

Published: Friday, November 12, 2010

The City of Duncan will take a major step in the war against waste early in 2011 when it rolls out a curbside composting program alongside the already-successful recycling program.

Beginning in February, residents will be able to deposit a surprisingly wide variety of organic materials in 48-litre green containers each week to be composted on Vancouver Island, rather than ending up in a landfill in Washington state.

"It's something we've been looking at doing for some time," said Duncan mayor Phil Kent. "The waste we do export from the Valley has a significant cost. This will reduce the cost of waste management and it will be an opportunity to have the waste used for positive purposes."

Similar programs have been successful in other Island communities, including Ladysmith and Nanaimo. The diversion of organic waste has seen household garbage decrease by an average of 35 to 40 per cent.

"We have a program that is time-tested in other communities," said Kent. "It should work."

The list of acceptable items is long and not entirely obvious, including fruits and vegetables, all food scraps, cakes, cookies and candy (without wrappers), pizza boxes, food-soiled wax paper, milk cartons, and wooden stir sticks.

"The thing to focus on is that it goes further than backyard composting," said Aaron Bichard of the Cowichan Recyclists, who are working with the City to educate and prepare the public for the program. "It's meat, grease and cooked foods as well."

The outdoor containers, Bichard advised, will have latches on them to prevent animals from getting in.

Waste will be picked up in a compartmentalized truck. Compost and unlimited recycling will be collected one week, followed by compost and a 77-litre garbage can on other weeks. From there, material will go to the Bings Creek Transfer Station, then on to International Compost Corporation at Duke Point.

The highlight of the program is the ease with which residents can participate.

"It's going to be very simple," said Bichard.

Initially, the program will be restricted to about 1,250 single-family residences. Commercial operations and multi-family buildings will be left out for the time being, but Kent said the program may be re-evaulated to include them as well. The mayor noted that there are businesses that cater to commercial composting.

Residents of Duncan can expect to receive their compost kits -- comprised of a kitchen-scrap catcher, a 48-litre curbside tote and a sample of 100 per cent compostable bags -- early in the new year. In the meantime, information on the program will be available throughout at the Duncan Farmers Market, Christmas Chaos and City Hall, and residents are encouraged to contact the City with feedback.

© Cowichan Valley Citizen 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cowichan News Leader Pictorial - News

Curbside composting coming to Duncan

Katie Harris demonstrates the compost kit that will be delivered to 1,200 Duncan homes in February. Andrew Leong

Duncan homeowners can recycle organic kitchen wastes — spanning food scraps and bones to dairy wastes and greasy pizza boxes — under a curbside-compost collection program starting in February.

The goal is reducing by 40-odd per cent the tonnage of trash city taxpayers shell out to ship — with the rest of Cowichan’s garbage — to a Washington State landfill.

Duncan’s curbside program will see about 1,200 homes given a free curbside compost kit comprising a kitchen scrap catcher, a 48-litre curbside tote, and a sample of 100 per cent compostable bags.

Kits will be delivered by early 2011.

Contactor Cowichan Recyclists will stage educational displays and sessions about how the composting program works.

The city’s curbside setup costs are about $44,000, including advertising and educational exhibits, but council hopes most , or all of that will be saved in shipping bills, city staff said.

The menu of Duncan’s kitchen wastes will be shipped to International Compost Corporation’s facility at Duke Point.

Those household organics, plus those now collected in Ladysmith and Nanaimo, will be processed into a compost fertilizer.

Mayor Phil Kent said curbside composting makes a host of financial and environmental sense.

“It’s a program the city has been looking at for some time.

“One issue was trying to find a low- or no-emission vehicle to do it but we were ahead of the curve so we’ll use high-efficiency vehicles running on biodiesel.”

Council hoped to join a curbside program being mulled by the Cowichan Valley Regional District, but financial issues have delayed the CVRD’s program by about a year.

“We also had to make decisions about our vehicles,” Kent added.

“We decided to bring this program on line in-house and recycling is the best approach for taxpayers.”

The organics waste drive is not initially offered to apartments, town homes and businesses, Kent said, but those places could be added later.

He wants folks to realize short-term pain in set-up costs will spell long-term gains in reduced trash costs — and Duncan’s carbon footprint.

“We want to reduce our greenhouse gases and our dependence on purchasing resources,” he said, “and we may be able to realize revenue opportunities for bio-gas and district energy.

“We’ve looked at other communities who’ve done this and learned from their lessons and mistakes so we don’t repeat those things.”

For more, call 250-746-5321.

Monday, September 20, 2010

reCYCLISTS on CBC Victoria

Jason Adams of reFUSE ( www.reFUSE.ca ) and Aaron Bichard of Cowichan Recyclists ( www.cowichanrecyclists.com ) have teamed together to form reCYCLISTS.
In the interview below they talk to Gregor Craigie on CBC Victoria about the launch of the bike-based compost and recycling service in partnership with the Downtown Victoria Business Association.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bike Parking in Duncan

Garage tenants applaud new bike parking
Sarah Simpson, The Citizen
Published: Friday, August 06, 2010
Those headed to the Duncan Garage can leave their cars at home now that the City of Duncan has installed a dedicated bicycle parking spot right outside the big yellow building.
"By all accounts, so far it's a hit," said Mayor Phil Kent.
He said the bike rack had been located at another spot in town and was being underutilized. Council jumped at the chance to repurpose it in a high traffic location.
That's just what Aaron Bichard of Cowichan Recyclists, this year's Bike to Work Week coordinator, wants to hear.
He said he hopes the initiative continues.
"It's encouraging to see the City take an important step toward building cycling infrastructure by providing dedicated bike parking, especially in a place that's frequented by cyclists," he said Tuesday. "The way to make it safer on the roads for cyclists is to encourage more people to cycle, and bike racks are a good first step in acknowledging that cyclists exist in the community."
There's never enough bike parking spots said the Duncan Business Improvement Area Society spokesperson MaryAnn Hartley.
"I know that there are some on Station Street that even at 7:30 in the morning, seem to be well used. The more there are, the more it encourages people to ride to downtown," she said.
Not to be greedy but, "More, more, more!" said Nicolette Genier, co-owner of The Community Farm Store inside the Garage.
"We've been begging and really wanting bike parking for a long time," she said. "I'm sure darn happy to see the beginning of bike parking. We would like everybody to ride their bikes downtown. Lots of our staff have been wanting to ride their bikes to work and we actually have nowhere to park them."
"She said with 300-500 customers a day coming through the store, and upwards of 20 staff working at any given time, there's a load of potential at the Garage to reduce vehicle traffic.
"We really want to encourage it, and when we see lots more bike parking then I think we'll go on a real rampage and really start promoting the whole business of 'leave your car at home, you don't need one anyway.'"
Genier said the folks in the building are "just waiting for Phil Kent to turn the whole town into a pedestrian and bike-friendly place to live.
What's more, no vehicle parking spots were lost.
"There was about half a space there that couldn't be used as parking space, so we used that," said Kent.
That's a good thing, said Genier, as she understands the need to maintain a certain level of car parking downtown.
She'd like to see even more bike racks, perhaps in a covered space with some benches, in Charles Hoey Park.
"I think that would work really well," she said.
All in good time, said the Mayor. He noted a more comprehensive active transportation infrastructure plan, which will include other Cowichan local governments, is in the works.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Thanks for the Mention Monday Mag and NewsLeader Pictorial

A wheely good idea

Pedal-powered recycling will soon be coming to downtown Victoria businesses as Duncan-based Cowichan Recyclists prepares to expand its services to the South Island.

In partnership with local recyclers reFUSE — which offers big-bin recycling and drop-off at its Government Street depot — the Recyclists plan to offer zero-emission bike-and-trailer recycling pick-up around the downtown core.

Recylists’ website shows the company currently has more than 80 commercial clients in Duncan alone and company co-founder Aaron Bichard says they plan to fill a gap in services in Victoria.

“What is currently being offered out there by the bigger companies is that you have to be a certain size business and have a certain amount of space to warrant the service,” he said.

“You need to have space to put bins outside in the alleyways and you have to be generating enough volume that it would be cost-effective to order one of those big bins.

“Whereas we deal with, typically, smaller business, so businesses that maybe don’t have the space to be holding on to their recycling, the businesses that might not be generating as much volume, and we deal with things that aren’t typically picked by the regular services.”

Bichard says Victoria is ready for the Recyclists.

“We’ve done some surveys and questionnaires down in the Victoria business community, and so it looks like they are looking for recycling solutions for smaller businesses—and especially green solutions that are emission-free.

“Victoria’s a very bicycle-friendly city and a city that’s looking for the green eco-friendly option.”

— Jason Youmans

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Recycling the Tunes on Earth Day

The Love Guns lay down the beats for Return It Man.

Wow...those Love Guns are some sharp dressers! Thanks, Marc, Eric and Shane.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rockin' the beds

Sounds saucy, I know, but what we're talking about was far from romantic.It's tough to set the mood when sandbags and wire worms are involved.

As co-presidents of Jubilee Community Garden, this year Katie and I along with the other gardeners decided to build a couple of raised beds for people with mobility challenges.

After moving about 600 sandbags (twice!) to use as fill and shoveling more dirt than I care to think about, there was still more work to do.

Gardeners Fred, Ken and Rose (combined age of 250) helped us put the beds together and fill them. At 89, Ken can out-shovel Katie any day.
If it weren't for those three we'd still be there.
The following are a few photos of the festivities.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Leadin' the way by Trailin' behind

Sing-a-long if you know the words.

Tow, Tow, Tow your groceries slowly 'round the town...lah-de-dum-dee-dum dee doh- sumthing, sumthing FREE!!!

Now we have that song out of the way (an original Recyclists' opus, may we add), we are very excited to tell you about our newest project — Cowichan Community Trailers.

Launched a mere two weeks ago, Cowichan Community Trailers aim is to making biking for utility possible for everyone in the area.

To that end, with funding support provided by Moving on Sustainable Transportation, we've secured six trailers made by Tony's Trailers to be towed behind bikes or electric scooters and made them available for the community to use absolutely free.

In order to participate, people can go to Cowichan Independent Living to sign up for the free membership, then sign the trailers out from there or from Cowichan Green Community.

The trailers can be used for grocery shopping, returning library books, trips to the laundromat, delivering food and flowers, etc. The uses really are endless.

If you've ever spent time circling aimlessly in a full parking lot, searching for a spot to leave your vehicle, you'll appreciate the ease of Cowichan Community Trailers. And you won't have any trouble recognizing them thanks to the logo design by Dale Nigel Goble and the reflective signage made by Greenprint Studios.

For more information visit our website — www.cowichanrecyclists.com/cct — a give us a call at 250-732-3619. We'd love to pass on as much info about this exciting project as we can.

Happy trailering!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Spot the link...

In an effort to infuse our partners', fellow-recyclers', kindred-cycling-spirits' and, of course, our dear, dear readers' psyches with a little bit of refreshing enjoyment in the dreary winter days, we Recyclists propose the following game for your amusement.

(Drumrollllll) Introducing — SPOT THE LINK!

The rules are fairly simple: What do the following two photos have in common?

The answer...?

a) After hauling the load on the bike, Aaron had the group of Croatian sausage-makers use their techniques to massage his calf muscles.
b) Both the 530-metre sausage and the load on the trailer set world records.
c) The blue aprons in the first photo are Cowichan Recyclists' new uniforms.
d) The amount of pork used to make the world's longest sausage and the weight of bike, rider and trailer is the same — 400 kilograms.

Happy picture sleuthing!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Some Rare Winter Sun

Just before we headed out on the bikes this morning we saw a patch of blue sky that eventually conquered clouds around it—amazing. As we were surveying that patch of blue, CBC Radio Two was playing this song by an artist called Mayer Hawthorne. Its upbeat tempo put us in a great mood to start the day, and the sun carried us through.

Thought we'd share it with you. Enjoy.

Mayer Hawthorne - Your Easy Lovin' Ain't Pleasin' Nothin' .mp3

Found at bee mp3 search engine