During pandemic, Yellowknifers encouraged to try out DIY composting

COVID-19 has prompted a widespread scaling-back of city services, meaning curbside pick up of organics isn’t available to most residents. Now Yellowknife environmental group Ecology North is encouraging residents to do their own composting.

City put residential green cart pick up on hold during COVID-19

Typical backyard composting bins sold in hardware and garden stores are rectangular or dome-shaped. Now that the City of Yellowknife has suspended residential compost collection, Ecology North is encouraging residents to compost in their backyards. (CBC)

Though the City of Yellowknife has put a hold on residential green cart composting during the pandemic, it doesn't mean Yellowknifers have to throw their organics in the trash. 

"We see organic material as a resource that people should respect and try to keep out of the landfill," said Craig Scott, executive director of Yellowknife-based environmental group Ecology North. "We've done so much work to make it a good habit to separate organics. We don't want people to forget about that."

Ecology North worked with the city to set up its centralized composting program, but now, with COVID-19 prompting a widespread scaling-back of city services, curbside pick up of organics isn't available to most residents. 

This means, said Scott, that now is the time for Yellowknifers to bust out old backyard composting bins, or build new ones, and start composting for themselves.

Ecology North executive director Craig Scott says residents should continue to compost as much as possible. (Kaila Jefferd-Moore/CBC)

'A win-win-win'

For gardeners, composting should be a no-brainer. It's a "really amazing soil amendment, and if we can create it out of our garbage, and keep that stuff out of the landfill, it's a win-win for everybody," said Scott.

Composting also reduces greenhouse gasses that are created when organic material isn't separated from other junk and instead left to decompose in the landfill, he said. 

"It's a win-win-win, so we should be [composting] as much as possible."

DIY composting

DIY composting isn't hard, said Scott. 

First, you collect your kitchen scraps, but rather than toss them in the green cart, put them somewhere (preferably sunny) in your yard.

"Those organics, all they need is water, air and a bit of a mix of greens and browns," said Scott. 

Those "greens and browns" are cardboard or leaves and yard waste.

He said the heap needs to be mixed about once a month, and to have some water added to it, et voilà — "within a year, if you treat it nicely, you'll get a nice kind of organic hummus at the end of the season that you can add right into your garden."

We've done so much work to make it a good habit to separate organics. We don't want people to forget about that.- Craig Scott, executive director of Ecology North

No yard? That's OK, you can still compost your organic waste.

Scott said Ecology North has partnered with Kavanaugh Bros Ltd. to set up composting bins downtown, across from the pop-up park. A bin has been opened up for public use in the Range Lake neighbourhood, as well.

"But mostly, we're encouraging people to put backyard composting bins in their backyards," he said.

Keeping the composting momentum going should be easy for most Yellowknifers. Scott said many are already used to cleaning their plates into their organics bin. 

He believes people will really "dig into" backyard composting. 

"It's fun and rewarding when you can turn your garbage into this kind of black hummus material," he said. "It really helps your garden to grow and to retain moisture. Great, great stuff."

Ecology North compost specialist Dawn Tremblay stands in front of a pile of compost at the Yellowknife solid waste facility. Composting helps reduce greenhouse gasses, said Ecology North executive director Craig Scott. (Randi Beers/CBC)

Written by Sidney Cohen based on an interview with Lawrence Nayally


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