INNOVATION November-December 2013

including preschoolers to Grade 12 students, teachers, businesses, and organizations. “We took every avenue we could to make it successful,” says Frank, but she gives the kids credit for leading the way. “The kids went home and said ‘no no, that’s recyclable. That goes in the blue box or that goes in the red box,’” she laughs. Ahousaht has also opened a free store, where people can drop off things they no longer want but that are still in good condition, such as clothing, appliances, electronics, and dishes. The Next Challenge—Composting Perhaps most interesting is that some of the communities haven’t stopped with the three Rs (reduce, reuse, and recycle) but have moved on to the big C–composting. It started in Bella Bella, where Dave Whitehead, who moved to the community in 2010, was converting his own food scraps and those from a few neighbours into compost in his backyard. “What’s lacking up here is arable land. It’s basically forest, rock, and water,” he chuckles, explaining he wanted the compost to help create a garden. Word got out and Whitehead was asked to help the group design a locally funded community composting facility next to the waste transfer station. So many people wanted to be part of a six-month pilot project that names had to be drawn from a hat. “We didn’t want to roll it

out to the community and then find out we couldn’t handle it,” he says, explaining why they limited the pilot to 30 households. Once a week, Whitehead voluntarily picks up a five-gallon bucket with a secure lid from each of the homes and drops off a clean bucket in its place. He takes the waste to the 12-bin composting facility, where it’s turned periodically using a small bobcat to keep the piles aerated. The six months is almost up and Whitehead is pleased with the way the facility is working. “It’s composting really, really well. The [internal] temperature consistently reaches 60°C, higher than the temperature setting for most domestic hot water tanks, and often maintains this temperature for a week or more.” He notes the facility is animal-proof and doesn’t smell. Whitehead says the band has indicated a desire to fund the project so it can continue, with more households participating. The finished compost will be a hot commodity and could be used in two community gardens. “I don’t think we can ever have too much soil here,” he adds. The Remote First Nations Solid Waste Management Project is still going strong, with more communities coming on board and more engineers participating. Matt Douglas attributes the suc- cess to the communities themselves. “Aboriginal Affairs helped with infrastructure and planning and giving them the tools. The communities ran with it.”

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