After starting in her grandmother’s garden, Kayla Siefried now nurtures all sorts of plants and nutrient-packed soils from the Compost Education Centre in Victoria.
The non-profit is always there to answer people’s questions on composting or gardening and for Siefried, turning otherwise wasted food and yard scraps into a valuable and sustainable product is a tangible way she can help create a better future in a world that can feel debilitating at times.
“It’s a really easy way that I can empower myself to have some sort of impact on climate change,” said the compost centre’s site manager and community education coordinator. “I’m able to make my own soil, divert waste from the landfill and grow really delicious food to nourish my family and that all feels really worthwhile.”
The amount of organics – kitchen and yard waste – ending up trashed at Hartland landfill has dropped by about 11 per cent since 2010, but still accounts for the region’s second-largest waste source. It’s also the largest waste source coming from both single and multi-family homes.
Those landfill-bound organics get compacted under other trash where they’re deprived of being able to break down into nutrient-rich products and instead create methane, an especially potent greenhouse gas.
The Capital Regional District board on April 12 agreed to explore regulating curbside organics collection from every community in the region. Residents are still encouraged to compost their organics at home if they can, but the regulations would likely mean municipalities that don’t have dedicated curbside programs offer some sort of pick-up option.
Without a regional food scrap facility, all of the CRD’s kitchen waste is destined to be shipped outside its borders – something that Siefried noted takes a lot of energy. Whether people have access to a yard, a balcony or just some space under their kitchen sink, Siefried said there are home-based composting options for everyone.
“We’re reducing the amount of energy that it takes to ship around that food waste but then we’re also reducing the amount of greenhouse gases that are created when organic matter ends up in landfill,” she said.
The education centre provides outreach programs across the region and runs a myriad of free workshops for those young and old. Those teach people how to craft their own nutrient and microbe-filled compost that’s better than the store-bought bagged stuff.
“The soil is a living creature, there’s a whole web of life that’s existing under there so by adding compost to the soil we’re nurturing that life,” Siefried said.
Several CRD communities – such as Colwood, Langford or North Saanich – don’t have municipally run curbside green bin programs but in certain cases offer some degree of drop-off service. Even in communities that do have their own services, many larger apartments and condos don’t get the services, so it’s up to property managers to contract out organics haulers.
Some communities let residents hire private haulers, but Siefried said she’s heard of instances where that’s led to multiple large trucks servicing different homes on the same street several times a week, instead of servicing the entire neighbourhood in one go.
The compost educator would be really excited if every municipality and all multi-family dwellings had to supply a green bin program as that would lower the amount of waste being landfilled.
“That’s extremely low-hanging fruit.”