By George Naylor, Caledonia

We love everything about our move to Caledonia.  We love the tranquility, we love the small town feel, but we don’t feel isolated, because we’re fifteen minutes away from shopping and entertainment centres in Hamilton.  We moved here after living in Hamilton and Burlington.  We are committed recyclers and environmentalists, but sadly there is no compostable garbage pickup in Haldimand County.

While in Hamilton and Burlington, we fully used their recycling capabilities.  When using the compostable and recyclable pickup in these communities, we averaged about one small bag of garbage a  month that was headed to landfill,  and sometimes less.  Even in summer there were no worries about odor or vermin attracted to this waste, because it was all unrecyclable materials, and inert.

In Caledonia, after removing all recyclables, we are putting out one bag per week for collection and transfer to a landfill site.  This is especially important in summer, because the garbage now contains food waste that can decompose and produce odor and attract vermin.  Not something I want for myself or my neighbours.

With one bag of garbage a week going to landfill in Haldimand, when compared to our once-a-month contribution previously, this represents a 300% increase in garbage to landfills from our household alone!  I understand that all Haldimand garbage is trucked to and unloaded at a private landfill site in London, and the disposal costs are around $120 per ton.  This cost does not include the cost of transportation or labour.

Here are some quick compostable garbage facts:

50% of garbage that ends up in landfills is compostable.

In Nova Scotia, where there is mandatory, province-wide compost pickup,  80 – 90% of compostable garbage is recycled.

Doesn’t that look like an easy 40% saving on landfill charges?

Without even raising environmental responsibility questions, or quality-of-life concerns,  surely the cost of a Green Bin program would be comparable to the disposal costs the county must be paying for the present system?  The bonus is this composted material has value, and could recover some of the costs of the collection program.   Even if this venture doesn’t turn a profit, at least this composted material isn’t a burden, and can be used for fertilizer for agriculture, and available to home gardeners.

The first option would be to promote  a site within Haldimand County to process and compost this material, either through a county-funded enterprise, or with the help of private market technology and investment.  The second, less favourable option would be to strike a deal with a municipality such as Hamilton, and negotiate a deal to have  them handle these compostable materials.  Compostable garbage can also be used as an energy source.

It’s  time for Haldimand County to enter the 21st century, and recognize and fulfill its environmental responsibilities.  Are we going to be our society’s dinosaurs who fail to see our  obligation to the future?  Deny global warming because there’s still snow in the winter?

In a perfect world, I would like to see the Canadian Government make all recycling mandatory, and the use of any unrecyclable packaging materials illegal.  In the meantime, let’s have Haldimand County be the best and most environmentally responsible community it can be.

A million years from now some spacemen could be on our planet, digging through our  middens, (insert landfills here),  trying to figure out what happened to the planet’s people.   Earth is now a dry Mars-like rock that’s sterile and uninhabitated, and what would the answer to their question be?  I wouldn’t want them to conclude in dry science terms;  “Wasteful and foolish – extinction inevitable!”