Commercial Recycling: Good for Business, Good for our Future

Commercial Recycling: Good for Business, Good for our Future

In advance of our Recycling Rock Show at the Opolis tonight, we would like to share with the community some of the facts we found about commercial recycling…

  • Commercial Recycling generates new job growth: in recycling collection, support, supervisory and management roles.
  • The cost-effectiveness of community recycling is primarily influenced by the amount of waste targeted for retrieval – by adding commercial recycling to our already existing residential recycling participants, we will increase the cost-effectiveness of both.
  • Cost-effectiveness is also influenced by density – in areas such as Campus Corner and Downtown, the higher density of businesses with recyclables will make the system more financially viable.
  • Trash disposal needs will decrease with a commercial recycling program, which will in turn could reduce already existing costs for business owners.


(Information from the 2011 CalRecycle Cost Study on Commercial Recycling)

A Growin’ Garden and Other Musings

I really love this garden; and I mean that with all sincerity. I love it so much so that I’ve had to ask myself ‘why?’. Why has this had such a profound effect on me? Like all introspective inquiries, its difficult to answer objectively, however I think that one of the primary reasons is because the ’garden’ is a form of protest. It’s protesting the industrial agricultural system and it’s protesting the dominant culture’s view that our front yards have little value beyond their aesthetic utility. It hasn’t produced much to eat, except a few greens, but there have been a number of ‘unintended benefits’. We spend a lot of time talking about ‘unintended consequences’ but little time on the ‘unintended benefits’.                                

Here are a few:

  • Food knowledge
  • A sense of action
  • Community connection

Look how far we’ve come

What’s the value of growing our own food? Does anyone have data on the amount of Carbon that’s saved by growing your own green beans vs. buying a can from the grocery store? What about a sense of action? How do you quantify the sense of action and self-satisfaction that one feels by doing something that, if scaled globally, could radically change our health and connection to the source of life? How do you put a price on engaging with your neighbors about the garden’s purpose? Or sharing knowledge about what’s happening with curious young people? What choices will they make as a result of those discussions? How will it affect their consciousness? I don’t know and I doubt if I could accurately estimate any of those ‘unintended benefits’, but they make it worth while and that’s probably why I love it so.                                                                           

Questions or comments? Please email me at evan@normansustainability.org 

Until next time,

ev

Growth in Norman: Ending Urban Sprawl and Developing High Density Living

With the recent passage of the $43 million transportation bond package in Norman – a proposal that I personally supported – the topic of urban sprawl has been thrust into the spotlight for community discussion. Over the decades since World War II, most cities in the United States have encouraged and even mandated growth that tends to be very low density, automobile dependant, and ever-stretching into what was once wide open country fields. This type of growth has proven to be extremely expensive and unsustainable for many cities to maintain, yet it is still the dominant pattern of growth for just about any city in the Western Hemisphere.

This bond package, consisting of eight projects, will mostly address problems that are a culmination of the issue of continued outward growth, over several decades, on all edges of the urban area of the city of Norman. Generally, I have found that public infrastructure improvements – like the widening of roads – tends to be the last piece when it comes to sprawl. To me, this means that we must get ahead of this exact type of unsustainable growth before new developments begin. If we fail to do this, it is very likely that we will be asked to approve another round of infrastructure projects in 6-8 years to address the negative effects of more outward expansion.

Another event that relates to this focus on responsibly growing cities is the recent series of public discussions on the future of high density development in certain areas of Norman – Downtown and Campus Corner to name  few. The outcome of these discussions will determine what kind of options and alternatives will be available to counter the outward, low density growth that dominates our current zoning ordinances (which date back to 1950′s).

This article is meant to be a brief summary of a what we are dealing with as a community when it comes to the affects of growth, and my hope is that more people will get involved in how these decisions are made. Together we can be more sustainable.

 

Stephen Tyler Holman

‘YouTube Night’ Recap

(Most of) The Wednesday night YouTube crew

Thank you to everyone who came out Wednesday night, Amanda, Steve, Mary, John, Andy, Laine, Kendrick, Connor, Katelyn, Nicole, the nice girl who will have to remain nameless since I never properly                                                                                   introduced myself, Michael, Brooke, Chris, and Jack. I hope you all enjoyed the shows. I would also like to show some appreciation to Gray Owl Coffee on E. Gray St. in Norman, for allowing us to use their patio, electricity, and most necessarily, their wifi. We couldn’t have done it with out you all. For those of you who may not have been able to come, we watched two episodes from a series created by Bill Mollison. The series is called GLOBAL GARDENER and it’s about the variability in application for permaculture-based principles in the design, not just of gardens, but human settlements, as well. Here are the links:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HD2CBLmkw6c&feature=plcp (Dry Lands) and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HF9IgvjCv84&feature=plcp (urban).

Bill Mollison

Bill Mollison is the founder of permaculture and a hero of mine. I’ve watched these videos numerous times and still find them to be inspirational and informative. I hope you enjoy them as well.

Next Wednesday, September 12th (weather permitting) the theme will be SUBURBIA, and we’ll show a video 20 minute talk from James Howard Kunstler, (the author of THE LONG EMERGENCY, and most recently TOO MUCH MAGIC), then a 50 minute documentary called THE END OF SUBURBIA. The quality of the YouTube upload isn’t great but it’s should be adequate. We hope to see you there. :-)

Evan 405-625-5655

Evan’s Labor Day Fall Garden Update

Evan Dunn: the author

Hi everyone, I hope you’ve been enjoying the festivities and relaxation of Labor Day Weekend, I personally have spent much of the past two days reminding myself that the Public Library is closed; I love that place. :-) I do have some fairly good news to report about the garden: it’s not dead :-) , but coming along. It’s been about 3 weeks since the initial planting and I’ve come to the conclusion that some seeds must have been planted too deeply, or perhaps there was some soil erosion that extended the period in which visual confirmation of germination hasn’t been possible. I hesitate to dig everything up simply to say ‘oh I wish I hadn’t done that b/c there are the sprouts!’. In spite of depth issues, the bush beans are doing quite well, the lettuce is coming along, the beats are beating, and the broccoli is  beginning to broccolize (I just made that up but it seems appropriate). Mysteriously, dozens of mimosa seeds have sprouted, and I’ve struggled to definitively account for this; were they in the compost? Were they dormant seeds? Did Johnny Mimosa-seed surreptitiously plant them under cover of darkness? Who knows? If I hadn’t used the same two bags of compost I would have been able to do a comparative study, eh? I’ve used some pine needles from our tree as mulch for the beans since they’re fairly well developed, however the beets, lettuce, kale, and broccoli haven’t yet reached the height that would allow for significant mulching…should I mulch anyways? I suppose it is possible to mulch without the plants reaching a specific height, and it would probably reduce water loss; even it is a negligible amount, it would still be something saved…hmmm? Another thing I regret NOT doing is having the front yard soil tested. I began the OSU master gardener program last Thursday and it was incredibly informative. Professor Zhang Hailin gave a lecture about the importance of soil testing and the appropriate balance of soil nutrients for vegetable growth. This is of course fairly variable given the type and variety, however he gave us general ranges in which pH, Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium need to be. Approximately one month before the class began, each student was allowed to take a soil sample, submit it for testing, and then receive the results on the first day of class. Remarkably, the soil that I sampled, which was from the back yard garden, had more than 3 times the amount of phosphorous, and close to 2 times as  much potassium as I needed. This shouldn’t effect the vegetable growth negatively though since plant growth is based on a Liebig’s Law of the Minimum; meaning that the nutrient that is in least supply will be the regulating factor for growth and yield. This is of course good to know, however the problem was that those results came from the back yard and not where I planted in the front, so I actually have no idea what the nutrient mix is in the front. Eh, live and learn, it was fun to not only learn from him but to also speak a little Chinese. We’ll see how things turn out. Overall, it’s progressing and it’s already been a subject of interest with some of the neighborhood kids. They’re curious about a lot of things and although a front yard garden isn’t as exciting as say…the X-box, I’ve been fairly impressed with their enthusiasm. It is rather incredible how we put a seed in the ground and then a living thing comes up…what a world :-) . Enjoy the rest of the holiday and happy gardening.

Please feel free to email me at evan@normansustainability.org or  call me at 405-625-5655 if you have any questions or comments.

Hasta luego,

Evan