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Composting program hits milestone

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Imagine 118 of the city’s rolling garbage bins filled with organic waste, loaded up onto a bike trailer and towed to composting sites around the West End.

The Daniel McIntyre/St. Matthew’s Community Association’s Composting for Community program has reached a milestone of 30,000 pounds of organic waste collected from neighbourhood businesses and organizations since it started in November 2010.

"We’re turning that 30,000 pounds into organic compost that can be used instead of cosmetic fertilizers," said Bowen Smyth, DMSMCA’s composting co-ordinator.

In spite of this achievement, the program’s funding remains uncertain, Smyth said. They currently receive no funding from the city, relying on private donors and some provincial grants.

"It’s going to be time before we get to a place where, as a city and as a society, we recognize and financially support organizations that are working towards sustainable solutions," said Smyth.

Jonnie’s Sticky Buns has participated in the program since opening in December 2010. Owner Jon MacPhail says it’s important for small businesses and organizations to consider their impact on the environment.

"I’m producing more product, I have more waste, and so what I do with that is more important. So having the ability to compost, recycle, buy local, source organic, is that much more important as a business as it is for me, personally."

MacPhail sees benefits for businesses beyond personal economic gain. "There is definitely (a benefit) when you look at it beyond my small business. When you look at it as a society, there’s a huge payoff.

"If nothing else, it’s a good way to be."

The recruitment brochure for the composting program states that organic material comprises 25 to 30% of daily waste. When that material decomposes in the landfill, it releases greenhouse gases like methane, contributing to global warming.

Instead, the compost is used in local community gardens or sold to gardeners in the area.

"So it’s building up our soil in the neighbourhood, and reducing the amount that we have to rely on chemical fertilizers," said Smyth.

DMSMCA celebrated the achievements of the composting program with a gathering on March 12 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at 823 Ellice Ave. A panel of speakers, including MacPhail, told the audience about the benefits of belonging to the composting program.

MacPhail said he hopes funders will step up and support community programs like this.

"This chronic underfunding of neighbourhood associations, it’s starting to become a detriment," he said.

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