While the Essex Windsor Solid Waste Authority was considering possibilities for a regional compostable waste collection system, one young resident decided she wouldn’t wait for the city to make composting more accessible in her neighbourhood. Lina Chaker started small by biking around to pick up food waste on her street, which she then took to a community garden for composting. This compost was then applied to the garden, which provided food to the local food bank.
Since she started this program, Greening Kenilworth (as she calls the project) has grown and participation has increased. At the same time, the city of Windsor has decided not to pursue an organics program. However, a city-implemented program isn’t the only possible solution, and getting more communities on board with programs like the one Chaker began could potentially be just as, if not more, effective. Locally-based solutions can be sustainable at lower costs with reduced emissions, and can provide free compost and (in this case) food for the food insecure, as well as helping to bring the community together. At our recent visit with York Region, one of the auditors said that he felt that the anonymity of the waste system was one of the biggest factors contributing to contamination in source-separated organics. Community composting may lead to reduced contamination as people can see who is reusing their food scraps. This personal connection may also provide motivation to reduce food waste as well.
Backyard and community composting is cheaper for residents and for the city, and by reducing transport and processing of organic materials, can also have less of an environmental cost while extending the life of the landfill. As in the case of Chaker’s community, the benefits can be multifaceted: reducing the community’s environmental footprint, creating compost that in turn feeds the community, and bringing the community together as they become informed and involved. Hopefully more communities will seek out solutions like this that can help reduce the amount of organic waste they are sending to landfill.