Sunday, May 23, 2010

Compost Diversion

Another little success story in the making here at NOCA are our compost operations.  In an attempt to reduce the amount of cardboard sent 50 miles down valley for recycling, we are composting a portion of it on site.  Recycling is a wonderful thing and it is also a process that has heavy green house gas emissions.  One way we at North Cascades can reduce the emissions from cardboard recycling is to limit the amount of cardboard that comes into the park, initially.  Asking our vendors to ship less packages, less often is ideal.  But like any business, we need "stuff" and we need it fast.  Perhaps a more realistic idea, is to compost as much of it, on site, as we can.  This will mitigate not only the emissions associated with the 50 mile haul to the nearest recycling center, but the many hundreds of miles it will travel thereafter (not to mention emissions from the recycling centers).  Did I mention that the compost will have local applications, such as use in park landscaping projects, the native plant nursery and as fill?

Now, by no means am I saying we ought to not recycle.  I am trying to show, however, that we ought to think about emissions diversion.  Can we decrease the amount of trips down valley to the recycling center by composting more on site?  Can we reduce our emissions in the process?  Thinking critically and analytically in this manner is the first step, in my opinion, towards true emissions reduction.  We ought to challenge and question the mitigation actions we are familiar with and experiment with our own.  What's the worst that will happen?  We'll have more compost than we'll know what to do with?

Step 1: Shred Cardboard.

 Step 2: Weigh Cardboard.

Step 3:  Transport Cardboard (using a zero emissions vehicle, of course)

Step 4:  Mix thoroughly with plenty of fresh horse manure and yard trimmings.  Cover.  Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.

To date, nearly 200lbs of cardboard have been diverted from the trip down valley.  Nearly 60lbs of shredded office paper have also made their way into the compost process, primarily as feed for worms in our vermicompost bins.  The office shreds are non recyclable and up until today, have been thrown in the trash, in a plastic bag.  Not anymore!  We have a primitive, yet sophisticated process for collecting, transporting, inventorying and storing shredded office paper from Park Headquarters in Sedro-Woolley, Administration and other buildings on Marblemount as well as the Visitor Center in Newhalem.  All office shreds are accounted for, diverted from landfills and will be a part of a tangible, usable and Earth friendly product.  Compost!!!

1 comment:

  1. Hi there,
    I've been working with the National Park Service to create two WebRanger Activities about climate change. I'm wondering if you would be willing to let us use a picture of your composting system within our "Climate Change New" section?

    Please get in touch: