Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Feel Good News

It's Friday, and in my books, that means it's time to feel good. Let's set aside the doom-and-gloom stories for a moment and focus on some good news!


It wasn't a Friday, but last weekend I felt really good volunteering with Live Green Toronto at the Community Environment Day that was held in my ward only a few blocks from where I live!

My fellow volunteers and I staffed the Live Green booth to share information about environmental programs in the city. Some of the most popular documents that residents requested included the blue bin and green bin usage guides, cycling route maps, and the complete list of Community Environment Days for 2011. Each city ward hosts one at some point between April and October, and these events are quite popular - some people actually go to more than one a year!

What can residents do at Community Environment Days? For one, they can trade broken curbside green bins or kitchen containers for new ones for free or buy backyard compost bins, rain barrels, and indoor water efficiency kits. The blue truck behind this booth is for donations of arts and crafts materials. There was a second truck devoted exclusively to clothing and household textile donations.

Almost every person comes to a Community Environment Day to drop off household hazardous waste, including paints, propane tanks, batteries, motor oil, CFL bulbs, expired medication, and toxic cleaning supplies. Look how happy these guys are to collect HHW - how could you not want to make their day and give them your poisonous products?

This is one of two containers holding electronic waste. I saw people drop off computers, scanners, TVs, speakers, VCRs, even turntables, all within this four-hour event! On the one hand it's impressive so much e-waste is being diverted from landfills and incinerators, and on the other hand, we generate too much e-waste!

Every City Councillor places an order for leaf compost for her/his Community Environment Day; some more, some less. Residents are entitled to one cubic metre's worth. In my neighbourhood, many people grow vegetable gardens, so the demand for compost is high. You can tell by the picture above that the pile was reduced to a fraction of its original size. That only took one hour! Shockingly, 20 minutes later only small mounds the size of ant hills remained. Many were disappointed that there was none left before the event was even half over.

Community Environment Days make me happy - hence this Friday Feel Good News post about them. These events allow us to divert waste (in some cases toxic, in other cases reusable), save water indoors and out, add nutrients to the soil we grow our food in, and even have a chat with our City Councillor (Cesar Palacio is pictured above). Parents model good behaviour to their children, new neighbours get to know one another, residents learns a few new things about green living in the city, and everybody wins!

If you don't live in Toronto, does something similar exist in your area?


  1. Was this compost produced by the City from leaves they collected from streets and parks? I love the idea of the City Works Department actively making compost from collected organic material and then giving it back to the community. I certainly could use some in the new garden I'm starting this year. In my town, Public Works sucks up leaves on sides of the roads in the fall, but I think it is just dumped in a pile at the landfill and not actively composted. I know of other landfills that burn collected leaves and branches. What a waste!

  2. Good question Emily! I know the City includes the bags of yard waste that they collect at curbside in the spring and fall. That's reassuring because the leaves from the roads are probably a little contaminated with motor oil and other nasty stuff from cars and trucks!