It’s cool to rot your food

City hopes composting will catch on as part of an eco-friendly lifestyle

Most people wouldn’t initially brand the prospect of having a pile of rotting food waste and worms in their backyard or under their sink as hip but the City of Calgary is inclined to disagree. The city is offering a series of lectures called Composting is Cool as part of a number of activities geared to promote eco-friendly lifestyles as the green movement gains popularity.

It’s easy to imagine composting as just the kooky pastime of your grandma and her gardening buddies but by teaming up with the city and providing trained volunteers to perform the lectures the Clean Calgary Association hopes to show that there is value in composting for nearly any city-dweller.

“Any type of composting is a great action to take for residential waste reduction” says Clean Calgary volunteer and office manager Kate G. van Fraasen. “Different composting methods work better for different home situations. For example vermicomposting or indoor composting is much easier and appropriate for homeowners who do not have access to a backyard or live in a condo or apartment whereas backyard or outdoor composting is an excellent option for those with the space and who have a garden they can add the finished compost to. Neither is better than the other — in the end organic waste is being diverted from the landfill and making a great nutrient-enriching soil amendment.”

Not that grandma and her gardening buddies won’t get anything by attending van Fraasen notes. “There is always more research and development happening with composting” she says. “For example the development of turning bins electric composters and compost tea.”

Master composter Jackie Puff one of the program lecturers says she has been amazed at the popularity of the Composting is Cool program with 40 people attending the most recent lecture. “To see so many interested people causes a buzz and passion about food and yard waste that has been largely missing in my own experiences around Calgary” she says.

Puff recommends signing up about two to three weeks in advance — and if you can’t get in contact Clean Calgary to schedule your own workshop with a master composter. “Some volunteers are working off their discounted tuition for the Master Composter course and would love more chances to volunteer their expertise” she says.

With concerns about climate change driving the current focus on energy consumption and eco-friendliness Clean Calgary is operating in a lively environment. Van Fraasen says the popularity of the organization’s own indoor and outdoor composting workshops the number of composters being sold at the organization’s retail EcoStore and the inquiries coming in via e-mail and phone indicate that Calgarians have a strong interest in composting.

It seems the city is right: composting is cool.

The lectures take place at the Outdoor Resource Centre located at the southwest corner of Memorial Dr. and 10th St. N.W. More information on the city-hosted lectures can be found on the city’s website calgary.ca (follow the links to parks and events) and more general composting information can be found at Clean Calgary’s website cleancalgary.org.