By the time this Solid Waste Block Party on June 28 block party gets going I will be on the way to my grandson’s wedding in Pincher Creek. I would have liked to attend the “garbage party”. I am sorry I can’t, but will put down a few of my thoughts on the garbage problem in Lacombe and everywhere.
My grandparents, parents, all our neighbours in Germany and I bet generations and generations before them had compost piles in their gardens. They turned them over at intervals and when it had turned into good, rich humus they put it back to where their food came from; their gardens and fields. I have also done so my whole long life without even thinking about it and it has stood me in good stead. I must admit, though, that I was lucky enough to always have had a garden wherever I lived.
Everyone having a house and some land should make use of their compost. (These days there are even quite good-looking composters on the market.) Apartment dwellers could easily do their part and put compostable material in separate cans at the curb on collection days.
In several communities, especially in space-restricted ones like on Vancouver Island, compostable material gets collected in separate containers to be picked up at the curb on designated days. Cans of the colour green would be the most fitting for this purpose.
I have fought for separating the garbage on my campground since opening the first May long weekend in 1971. Every garbage station had four cans; one for paper, one for compost, one for bottles, cans and glass and one for non-recyclable ‘real’ garbage. At first campers didn’t get it at all. Only after we got more and more campers staying for the whole season and I suggested that money realized for returned cans and bottles could be used for the first of the very expensive July fireworks everyone wanted, did the separation of the latter catch on. It takes relentless preaching for ‘new’ ideas to catch on. But the time has come!
My suggestion is for the City to provide one normal sized roll-out can for ‘real’ garbage for each family dwelling and one green box or can for compost. Paper and cardboard could be collected in large bins at strategic points like those that are provided for grass clippings already. Where there is one container for grass now, there could be a second one for paper, as well. (In walking distance from homes—not a long way to drive.)
Branches and cut-off trees should further be collected at a central point, not too far away from the City. People who have that kind of material to get rid of usually have transportation for that job, too. There still could be a day once or twice a year set aside for picking up branches, etc. piled up beside individual lots.
I realize that it takes some time and dedication to pound some ideas into the heads of certain die-in-the-mud people. The City has to keep at it relentlessly and if need be people could be fined for not complying after a certain time. When I was a kid before the First World War it was already a way of life to throw sorted throw-away stuff into large bins in my hometown of Lüneburg. As school children we collected paper, cardboard, toothpaste tubes, tin, glass and bones. I understand that that was done during war time in Canada, too. But why on earth not in peace?
In closing I would like to point out that personally I have lived as green as can be all my life. I live off my garden as much as climatically possible and have never used chemical fertilizers or weed killers. ‘Organic gardening’ is a rather recent term, but older people will remember that we have always done so. I have always eaten certain weeds that come up by themselves in spring and so has my late Canadian husband, who grew up in the recession years near Stettler.
My shower water gets re-used for the toilet. To this day I am using a bicycle for transportation wherever feasible since early childhood. I must say that my lifestyle makes me feel good, strong and lively in spite of having reached an ancient age and I am most certainly very grateful for the new trails opened officially just last week. I don’t think anybody uses them more all the way, all the time, than I do. Now I love even more to call Lacombe my home. We are all so lucky to live in this pretty, small, neat and progressive City where so much is offered to be able to live healthy, in body and mind building ways.
I bet this huge garbage problem will be resolved as soon as everyone understands what is at stake. Hoping you will not dump my opinions on garbage into the trash can and thank you for letting me have my say.
Margrit de Graff