Egg shells, apple cores and sheep manure. Those are some of the items that come to mind when the word “compost” comes up.
Not to mention worms and a perpetual cloud of fruit flies.
But the City of Red Deer is setting out to show residents that the seemingly slimy and stinky task of composting isn’t all that bad.
In fact, said city staff, there are more benefits to starting up your own composter than you’d think.
The Residential Composting for Red Deerians program officially kicks off on Friday at the Red Deer Home Show in Westerner Park.
The program “aims to raise awareness and participation in composting household organic waste,” said Lauren Maris, environmental program specialist at the city.
They hope to introduce 300 new households to composting and in turn keep about 55 tonnes of organic waste from going into the local landfill.
It’s an area Red Deer needs some improvement on. Currently, according to the city, only 23 per cent of residents compost.
“It’s not that common and it should be,” said Maris. “Personally, I think it’s one of the best green things you can do.”
Organic waste that could be composted makes up 40 to 60 per cent of Alberta’s waste stream, says the Alberta Environment website.
Composting reduces not only the amount of waste going into landfills but also the site’s methane emissions. Landfills account for about 38 per cent of Canada’s total methane emissions, according to the Compost Council of Canada. The buried, decomposing organics are a key contributor to this production of greenhouse gases.
Additionally, compost materials are “black gold” for the avid gardener, said Maris. It restores natural nutrients to the soil, improves soil moisture retention, keeps the earth well aerated, and, compared to harmful petrochemical fertilizers, doesn’t cost homeowners a penny.
Andrea Wiseman, a local entrepreneur, and her husband Mike Wiseman, who sells real estate, have been composting for about three years.
“It just makes sense to put our food back into the earth,” she said. The Wisemans have a flower garden but Andrea finds she uses the compost almost everywhere in the yard.
Composting is also great when it comes to turfing lawns, for example.
People can sign up to start composting for free at the home show. All you have to do is be a Red Deer resident who is not currently composting, agree to attend a composting workshop, and commit one full year to the program.
In turn, you’ll receive a composting bin, a kitchen catcher for organic waste in the house, and an aerating tool for your bin all free of charge.
“We’re giving you all the tools so you know exactly what you’re doing,” said Maris. “And we’ll be checking in to see how it’s going.”
Workshops, to be held at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre where a real composter is available to view, start at the end of April.
The Residential Composting for Red Deerians project was selected by the Shell FuellingChange program to receive a $10,000 grant last fall. Now, through a voting process, Red Deer has the opportunity to receive an additional $25,000 for its composting initiative. Visit fuellingchange.com to vote.
The Shell FuellingChange program seeks to grant $1 million each year to environmental projects that improve the state of Canada’s land, water and air.