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Trash, oil and rainfall

July 24, 2007
  Currently in the area there happens to be a city workers strike and one of the services that are being disrupted is the garbage pickup.  I think this would be an opportune time for the city and the media to focus on our overproduction of trash in the city.  As I drive along streets on garbage day I am amazed that people fill up the regular city sized bins each week to overflowing.  We have a small bin and it would take us several weeks if not more to fill the thing up.  It might be because of our practice of composting and recycling, or maybe we try to be conservative with what we use. I am not completely sure because I am not in the habit of going through other people’s garbage.
  Composting is really easy.   We have a large compost bin we keep by the garden in the backyard and a smaller bin just outside the kitchen where we put scraps to take to the larger one later.  Anything except fats and meats can go in from the kitchen, and even lint from the dryer!  The worms that have made the bin home really enjoy moldy bread.  Jeff also deposits the grass clippings and they fill up the bin nicely.  Then when we turn it every so often it makes terrific soil for the garden. 
  Recycling is another good thing to do.  We keep a large basket in the kitchen where we throw out all our paper and cardboard, and have a handy bin under the sink where we toss our cans and plastic.  We always fill up the recycling bin to the top for the every two week pickup.  I suppose we could go longer between pick-ups if we flattened the cardboard and cans.
  I know we could improve our practice of purchasing.  I don’t always bring my recyclable bag when we go grocery shopping, and I could use baking soda and vinegar more often for cleaning.
  One of the routes we sometimes take to and from Vancouver through Burnaby got a bad accident today.  A city works crew hit an oil pipeline coming from the local storage facility and let loose a huge amount of oil on a neighbourhood with some of it spilling down the sewer system down to the Burrard inslet.  It took aboiut half an hour to shut off the pipeline so there was a huge amount (thousand of litres) of pumping crude about 15 meters into the air onto homes, streets, trees, cars and down the hill to the water.  The clean-up  has started  and so has the finger pointing.  I just hope that the fish, birds and other wildlife will have minimal impact, and that the people will be able to clean up and go back into their homes soon.  I remember when we rented a boat near the area that there was a seal that liked to hang around the dock near where the spill happened. 
  Thank goodness it has finally stopped raining for a whole day!  We did our laundry and hung it up on the line in the sunshine.  We have had steady, heavy rain for about a week.  My flowers have mostly been knocked over and the garden is just sitting and waiting for some sun.
  On the other hand, we didn’t need much sunscreen the last while,  and it has been warm and not uncomfortable to sleep at night.  The salmon stream is full of water and flowing again and the plants everywhere look very lush.
  Things could be worse, I have been amazed at the stories about flooding in the U.K., China and the Southern U.S.  Scenes of whole towns with nothing but the tops of buildings poking out and dykes letting loose.  Having just been through a close call for flooding this spring near my home and fortunately having the warning and resources to raise the local protection, I really feel for the people who are losing home and family. 
  I have heard speculation that these problems are environmental changes caused by human activity.  I don’t doubt that it may be possible but I think that we are noticing the extremes more because there are more people on the earth.  One hundred years ago if the same area had flooding it would most likely be impacting just one farmer and his family.  Not really big news on the grand scale of things.  But when hundreds of people are impacted we tend to make a bigger fuss about it. 
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