Guest post by Jenn Hardy.
Last week when my neighbour Chad graciously popped by my apartment to bring me my organic food basket, I saw loads of green tufts of vegetables poking out of the top and said, “Urg. I feel horrible that we don’t compost.”
“The city picks it up,” he told me. Chad’s the kind of guy who seems to know everything that’s going on in our neighbourhood. He knows loopholes and bylaws that most of us are too lazy to look into.
We went into our respective apartments and by the time I got back to my computer, he had already sent me the link to the city’s website where I could punch in my postal code for a pick-up schedule.
Sure enough, according to the website, the city comes by Wednesdays to pick up our green waste. There’s even an explanation about the size and material of the containers we can use.
One thing not explained, however, was the definition of the term “green waste.”
Like Chad, I interpreted green waste to mean any organic matter. Like from half-eaten meals and rotten potatoes.
Wikipedia does too: “Green waste is biodegradable waste that can be composed of garden or park waste such as grass or flower cuttings and hedge trimmings, as well as domestic and commercial food waste.”
I don’t have a backyard with grass and leaves. The only green stuff I have are the carrot tops and extra cabbage leaves that come in my weekly fresh food basket. Domestic food waste.
So the city was really going to pick up my celery stalks free of charge?
When I posted the fact I didn’t know I lived in a compost-pick up area on Facebook, savvy friend (and Montreal journalist) Eve Krakow commented, “But is it kitchen waste, or garden waste, i.e. just leaves and branches?”
But I phoned the city just in case. The answer: If Chad and I lived a little further east in the Plateau, we would be eligible for a project that picks up kitchen waste. The project will hopefully spread west and around the city soon with the woman on the phone optimistically telling me that “eventually this program will grow to all the boroughs.”
While Chad says it’s been a few weeks since the city has touched his bins, he clarified that he hadn’t been dumping ground coffee and eggshells into the bucket he leaves out on his curb. He has a veggie garden out back and most of what he’s been throwing in his bucket comes from his garden.
Our options for compost in this area are limited, but do exist. The very affordable (though labour intensive) option is to bring our own compost to the Tourne-Sol Community Composting Centre in Jeanne Mance park for $30/ year. Added bonus: You get to take home some of the nutrient-rich compost that is produced.
Compost Montreal’s service is a favourite around the city. For $5 a week, participants are provided with a bucket lined with a fresh compostable cornstarch bag. Excellent service means the bucket is collected weekly and the lining bag replaced before it’s put back on the participant’s porch. While the $20/month add up, it’s surely a more important use of my money than the $50 a month I pay Videotron to let me watch TLC and CosmoTV… Sign me up!
Jenn Hardy is an award-winning journalist who regularly writes for Todaysparent.com, the Montreal Gazette, This Magazine, and OpenFile. She runs the parenting blog www.mamanaturale.ca.
This post originally appeared on OpenFile Montreal.