Transition Whatcom

Is there interest in creating an official transition workgroup that deals with waste streams?  To my mind it is an important part of a resilient community.  One idea I have is to support the creation of art pieces made of trash and found objects, which would relay the vision to the community of reducing waste, and/or point out the impact of consumerism.  Maybe it could be a contest?  If you're interested, Google 'recycled art' and sort for images.  There are some cool projects out there.

In case this never gets off the ground, I will add here some options for reducing your own waste stream (forgive me if this is old news to you).  If I have an item I want to get rid of, first I might post it to Craigslist to see if I can sell it for cash, then I post it to Fourth Corner Exchange to see if I can sell it for Life Dollars, then I either take it to Goodwill, the ReStore, or put it out on the curb.  Let yourself be amazed at what you can make disappear, in record time, by putting in out on the curb!  It's a beautiful thing.

I have a friend that makes biodiesel.  For a few years he couldn't find a great way to make use of the glycerin, which is a byproduct.  Then he found a dairy farmer that harvests the biogas from his cows, and apparently glycerin is a catalyst for the reaction.  Perfect match.  He dumps his glycerin in the digester, and the farmer gets more energy out of the deal.  I want to help find perfect solutions like this.  I would love to hear your thoughts, or other stories of closing the loop.

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Laura, 

Don't forget the Bellingham Freecycle site.  Freecycle now has international branches including here in Vancouver B.C. where I am currently living.  

Also consider doing some Freegan (dumpster diving).  Scavanging was for millenia an important part of our food source (and in fact is today with many poor being forced to do it).  It is a great way to recycle food and other goods - of course with the caveat of health precautions.

I suspect that as we will be forced to downsize as a species in the future (including significant reduction in our population) mining and other extractive endeavors will be much reduced.  Instead we will be mining trash for our natural resources (materials and energy) - hopefully decontaminating a lot of habitat in the process.

We need to develop simple yet efficient recycling techniques / small industries that we can operate locally within a village-size (e.g., commune, echovillage, very small town) settings.  This would include mending / reusing our clothings, reusing or alternate use of packaging / sewage waste, and systematic design where permaculture concepts are applied with production decisions being based not just on their use phase but also on their waste or by-product which should serve as a cost-effective raw material or fuel for another use locally (just like the example you mentioned).  Use of a lot of currently-used materials / chemical would become prohibitive of course - due to their very enormous ecological cost.

I hope within TW we can freecycle clothing, furniture, tools, books, food, etc.  Also if someone is demolishing 

a structure and another person is building one they may be able to use their material by recycling.  I would also like to see more repair skills / workshops so we can reuse / prolong use / alternate use the stuff we already have.  I think if TW had a physical hub (or in fact several hubs) such things could be better coordinated.  If this idea gets any traction maybe people can offer their garage at first, then maybe a local church or community center or even a school or some public or NGO site could be converted (or dual use), and eventually possible sustainability hubs created.

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