FROM LYNN O’MALLEY: As of the first week of May, we Lynn Valleyites have the chance to step up and really prove ourselves. That’s when the North Shore Recycling Program is extending its weekly yard waste pick-up service to include food scraps.

This is exciting news for the majority of locals who have, over the past decade, become more and more conscious of the amount of garbage they generate. As they’ve reduced and reused, and been given increased recycling options such as those discussed in this recent post, many people been able to reduce their household waste a significant amount.

Amanda Vantol of the NSRP demonstrate a stainless steel under-sink bin she likes to use to collect her kitchen waste.

However, food scraps and food-stained paper products that aren’t appropriate for backyard composting have continued to pose a problem. Bones, meat, dairy, grains, used paper towels …. all have ended up in the garbage can.

But these are just some of the items now eligible to be added to our yard waste collection bin (as of your first garbage day in May). The question is, will we bother?

Jenn Meilleur of the North Shore Recycling Program says that people in some municipalities in Metro Vancouver, where food scraps collection has already been introduced, have been a bit slow on the uptake – “but participation is increasing over time,” she notes.

Sure, separating out our food scraps will require a change in habit, but that doesn’t mean it’s an onerous task. That’s why I’m telling you now, so you can start planning ahead and be waiting eagerly at the curbside with your food scraps can when the truck rolls up in May.

This isn’t just an investment in our environmental health, but in our municipal budget as well. According to the NSRP website, the 23,000 households on the North Shore who are already backyard composting are estimated to be saving our municipalities about $800,000 in tipping fees. Think of all the worthwhile neighbourhood causes that can be addressed with that saved cash!

Backyard composting remains the best option for organic waste, requiring no pick up or processing, but as this new food scraps program allows for an added number of items to be diverted from the waste stream, it will help reduce our waste tonnage even further.

The NSRP has an excellent FAQ section on its website, and will be sending out an info kit and Green Can decals to all households in mid-April.

The gist of the new program is this:

– food scraps and food-stained paper products can be added to your existing yard waste pick up, but…

– food scraps may NOT be put out at the curb in paper yard-waste bags.

– suggested containers include a basic 77-litre can; good ones are available at hardware stores for about $15. Stick a Green Can decal on it, and use the can for both food and yard waste.

– start thinking about kitchen systems that will help make this an easy habit to adopt. Hardware and garden shops carry a number of under-sink compost collection bins, or you can repurpose a lidded ice cream bucket.

– You can line your kitchen bin with a sheet of newspaper to make dumping and clean-up easier. Please note that plastic bags, even those marketed as compostable, are not accepted in the food scraps collection as they can hinder the processor’s machinery.

– By taking advantage of the various recycling options offered in and around Lynn Valley, you may find that your ‘main’ kitchen garbage can becomes somewhat redundant. Downsize it to save some space!

Let’s get cracking on our kitchen organization now and adopt this program with open arms. We can make Lynn Valley the top Green Can neighbourhood in MetroVan!