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Waste not!

Heather-Lynn Evanson

Waste not!

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Is your soil so full of clay that it clumps? It is too sandy and the water drains right out? Is it suffering from a proliferation of chemicals and pesticides?
Then add compost. Not only can the natural by-product of organic material do wonders for your soil, but it helps to divert some of the waste from Mangrove Landfill, said project manager of the Solid Waste Project Unit, Ricardo Marshall.
He was speaking as Harrison’s Cave held its gully tour last Saturday. He informed the walkers about the unit’s Integrated Solid Waste Management Programme.
He explained that the unit was established in the early 1990s in response to Barbadians producing 300 tonnes of garbage per day.
An educational blitz and the Village of Hope were laid on, but by 2005 the amount of garbage generated had jumped to “a thousand and 13 hundred tonnes”.
To put it in perspective, a large Sanitation Service Authority truck holds four tonnes of compacted garbage.
The unit went back to the drawing board and the Sustainable Barbados Recycling Centre (SBRC) was born. There, garbage is sorted for recycling. In addition, private recyclers entered the market.
So now, said Marshall, the island is landfilling the same volume of garbage as it was in 1993.
And composting and recycling are two of the reasons.
Up to 17 per cent of the population was now composting at home, he revealed.
“And that is a significant number. It is impressive but we think we can do much better because a large amount of what we throw away is organic and can be composted,” he stressed.
He noted that composting was as simple as throwing your cut grass, your hedge clippings into a pile or a composting bin, adding some water and allow nature’s organisms, including millipedes, to do their work.
“Compost is a wonderful thing,” Marshall enthused. “It has amazing properties.”
“If you have soil that is too clayey and it sticks together and it holds too much water, do you know how you make that soil easier to work? Add compost. Compost allows it to break up and allows it to drain better.
“If you have sandy soil and the water is just draining right through and you can’t keep any moisture, what do you do? You add compost. Compost binds those sand particles and traps the water and assists that soil in becoming more workable.
“What about if you want to do organic farming and you had years of people spraying on this land and you want these pesticides to break down and get out of the environment so you can work more organically?
“What do you do? Add compost because that binds those pesticides and assists them in breaking down organically,” said Marshall as he demonstrated, for the walkers, how to make a compost heap.
“So it’s an absolutely wonderful product,” he added.
Marshall urged those at the walk to get on board with the recycling and composting thrusts.
“As we say in my office, make your waste work for you.”
A breakdown of the waste at the SBRC is as follows:
Organics –  30 per cent
Paper & cardboard – 24 per cent
Plastic – 16 per cent
Metal – 7 per cent
Glass – 7 per cent
Textile – 7 per cent
Construction and demolition waste – 6 per cent
Special care waste – 2 per cent
Other waste – 1 per cent.