EarthMatters program coordinator Bruce Edson is seen here at a recent MarketFest in downtown Nelson.

EarthMatters program coordinator Bruce Edson is seen here at a recent MarketFest in downtown Nelson.

Getting to zero waste a challenge for Nelson markets

The West Kootenay EcoSociety is taking stock of a new policy to drastically reduce market waste.

With market season waning, the West Kootenay EcoSociety is taking stock of a new policy to drastically reduce market waste by requiring vendors to use compostable or washable dishware.

“Nelson has a great waste reduction culture, but if there was not someone staffing our waste stations at the markets, every bag would still end up being contaminated and have to go to the landfill,” says EarthMatters program coordinator Bruce Edson.

“Working with people at the moment they need to dispose of something is a great opportunity to help build good habits, share knowledge on recycling and composting, and work at building a zero waste culture.”

After each ,arket event (including MarketFest), waste reduction educator Lauren Andres bikes a mobile waste station down to the basement at Ellison’s Market where compostables are consolidated and go out to the Nelson Co-Housing Co-op at Six Mile for a composting process.

Out at Six Mile, veteran composter and past Earth Matters educator Heather Keczan has been composting market waste for two years.

“I have a big squash plant growing from the compostable waste from last year,” says Keczan. “Well-sorted compostable dishware breaks down quite slowly — it’s not an ideal solution.”

Todd Veri, who composts organic waste from local festivals, has been able to achieve faster decomposition with a shredder and the anaerobic bokashi composting process.

Andres feels the waste stations make a difference, but that the real difference will come when people’s habits change.

“We can invent all kinds of ways to manage waste in more responsible ways, but ultimately, it is still energy, labour and resource intensive,” she says.

“If we can change our habits and remember to bring our own cup/plate/bag whenever we leave the house, we could drastically reduce daily waste around town. At home, setting up simple composting systems diverts tons of waste from our landfills. More than 30 per cent of landfill waste is kitchen scraps. It’s simply a habit change, then it will be normal — just a few years ago recycling was a chore, now it’s just something we do.”

Andres has been randomly rewarding people she sees at local markets using their own dishware with ten dollars in EcoSociety Market Bucks.

“Farmers markets are incredible community events that highlight the incredible skills of our area,” says Andres. “It will be great when we can get together as a community  without generating waste.”