On August 8, the Green Drinks group of Snohomish County met on a beautiful summer night for food, libations and a tour of the Cedar Grove Composting site on Smith Island in Everett. Green Drinks of Snohomish County marks its fourth year in 2012, and was founded by Karen Erickson and Valerie Steel who both attended this event.
Green Drinks is an association of like-minded people interested in coming together socially to work toward a more sustainable planet. There are over 600 chapters of the Green Drinks group across the country, and Cedar Grove was proud to be part of a night of discussion surrounding supporting local farmers, keeping materials out of landfills, using compost for natural gardens instead of chemicals, and creating an important sustainability loop in Snohomish County.
At this Green Drinks event, Cedar Grove Plant Manager Lawrence Klein provided an overview of the composting technology used at Cedar Grove’s site as well as the ongoing steps and systems used for odor control. Susan Thoman, Public Affairs for Cedar Grove, answered questions about the recent storm water waiver for phosphorous the site applied for as well as addressing local community issues regarding odors. Thoman explained that phosphorous in compost is a natural and desired component in good compost, and that compost is actually promoted for use as a replacement for fertilizers containing synthetic phosphorous that results in significant impact on water quality.
In fact, on the Washington State Department of Ecology just came out with mandates for pollution mitigation using Low Impact Development standards for storm water where compost plays a major part in that. In regard to community odor concerns, Thoman explained that the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency will be conducting an odor study within the community that matches technology (“e-noses” that fingerprint smells and track their migration from a source), people that volunteer to take part in the odor study from the community, and a weather station that gathers wind and other data affecting odor movement. Thoman encouraged attendees to take part in learning more about the study or finding out about participation in through the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other topics included keeping contaminants out of the commercial composting “feed stocks” (note that the little organic sticker on fruits and vegetables is NOT organic-its plastic, and does not break down). Film plastics are the largest problem at Cedar Grove, and the Green Drinks guests got an education on how people often rush and leave produce in plastic or grocery bags when putting them in the green bin, or they rush or don’t pay as close, careful attention when they sort. One solution to the issue of produce stickers was to buy only fresh produce at the farmers’ markets where they don’t have the stickers. In addition, there needs to be more support for the local growers, and lots of discussion about supporting the Everett Farmers’ Market.
After the overview and questions, the Green Drinks did the traditional toast: “Let’s raise a toast to the planet while we figure out ways to NOT toast the planet!”