A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 December 26, 1991
How exciting it is to bring to our readers a happy story and a happy story that grew out of two painful trash battles. The first battle was against an attempt to put 20-30 million tons of trash into a quarry in the beautiful area of Halton Hills, just west of Toronto (a part of the Niagara escarpment). Though this battle still continues, the next battle was against a proposal to build a massive incinerator in the same area to burn a great chunk of Torontos trash. The corporate muscle pushing the quarry dump proposal is formidable, but they didnt appreciate who they were up against. Rita Landry doesnt stand very tall, but as far as sloppy trash proposals are concerned she is an immovable object, and as far as getting things done, she is an irresistible force. So Rita and husband Len, and friends, decided, after they had beaten back the incinerator proposal, to show what could be done with trash. They decided to set a better example. That was how Wastewise, a community resource center, got started. A place not only to recycle, but a place to educate and a place to reuse and repair. And more than that, a place to meet people. A place where seniors who grew up with the conservation ethic could help youngsters relearn the lesson. A place, in short, where wise use of resources could be learned first hand. A place where the community could grow, as the waste wasnt wasted anymore. Add to these lofty goals, the dynamo of a recycling genius in the form of Diane Vandervalk, and $300,000 in Federal and Provincial government grants, and you have a very exciting reality and a model that many other communities will want to copy. In the latest video, W.O.W. #31, produced by Paul Connett and Roger Bailey, it is hoped that our readers will be able to share the excitement and the inspiration of this project. It is a glimpse of the future.
1. Education Center and Information Service. Provides businesses in Halton Hills with information to help them reduce their waste stream with aides such as comprehensive recycling directories, personal attention and waste audit manuals. Provides a full range of information services to individuals via information from environmental groups, displays on how to reduce waste, publications, etc. For composting Wastewise built compost bins from used wooden pallets. Information on environmentally friendly products (i.e., names of companies that sell 100% recycled post consumer paper) etc, are made available. School groups come and tour the center, as well as local civic groups. The tours through Wastewise, will inspire others that the sky is the limit when a community comes together to learn how to unmake waste.
2. Repair Center. According to Dianne Vandervalk, we are all told that it is far more costly to repair an iron, kettle, or toaster than buy a new one. But at Wastewise, residents from the community have come to the center and have repaired bicycles, toasters, irons, de-humidifiers, etc. A management consultant was videoed repairing irons. He said most items need only minor repairs. He cited a clothes dryer brought to Wastewise, which the folks that brought it in claimed didnt work. When the dryer was opened they found a pair of socks wrapped around the main bearing of the drum. They took the socks out and it worked fine! A retired bike man was interviewed surrounded by a great number of discarded bikes. He noted that most of the bikes were repairable, while the others are used for spare parts.
3. Reuse Center: a giant flea market. Wastewise, in their 9,000 square foot building, provides a home for items ranging from items gleaned from spring cleaning to left over garage sale items. The video captures a department store variety of tempting couches, chairs, toys, books, china, lamps, doors, etc. For anyone into Flea Markets, Wastewise looks like a dream come true. They charge 50 cents a pound, and for furniture and glass, 25 cents a pound. This is certainly the magnet that will not only attract people to the center, but will help pay the bills. The unwanted items given to Wastewise are sold pretty quickly.
4. Recycling Center. In addition to accepting all blue box material (tin cans, glass bottles, newspaper, telephone books, magazines and PET bottles) as a convenience to people who do not have access to the blue box system they have identified a remarkable range of markets and dealers for other items such as textiles, rubber, clothing, shoes, cork, etc. There is an enormous amount of excitement just watching the video scan the baling process and the myriad different materials source separated for baling, etc. Handbook on Wastewise is now available. This is a nuts & bolts primer on the operations of Wastewise. Everything from where to look for markets, what kind of equipment they required, grants to apply for, how to fund raise, fire code concerns, etc. It is free. Just write Wastewise and ask for a copy.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.....INCINERATION A LA MONTY PYTHON. If the WASTEWISE video makes you happy, this video will make you fall out of your seat laughing. The video comprises six sketches (a la Monty Python) poking fun at the way incinerators are slipped into town. The sketches were performed in front of an audience of grass roots activists (many of them having experienced incinerator battles) at the Citizens Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste conference held in Washington DC in October 1989. Mark Lohbauer wrote and directed the sketches, as well as turning in some unforgettable performances --his Mr. Smug of the Very, Very Big Corporation is a classic. This is the kind of video you will want to share with a select audience (some of the gestures are a little offensive) to help unwind after a heavy public meeting in which you have had to sit through yet another boring presentation on those wonderful state-of-the-art, perfectly harmless, waste-to-energy resource destruction facilities, which we need to start building right now! The video, W.O.W. # 30, runs 21:42 minutes, and is available for $25 from Video-Active Productions, Route 2, Box 322, Canton, NY 13617.
VIDEO WE ALL LIVE DOWNSTREAM: Free to Grass Roots groups. This video is about the tragic contamination of the Mississippi River, which runs 2,400 miles from Northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. The video follows the Greenpeace Beluga ship travel down the river. Theres a stop in Muskateen, Iowa, where Monsantos largest plant produces Americas most widely used pesticide, Alachlor (trade name Lasso), and the pesticide Butachlor, trade name Machete, made for export only, because it is banned in the U.S. A visit to tiny Calvert City, Kentucky, where many people get cancer, nine major industries produce 3/4s of all the hazardous waste in the entire Tennessee Valley. Following the Mississippi the 150 miles from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, known as Cancer Alley, and home to almost 25% of Americas chemical industry we learn Louisiana legally dumps more chemicals than any state in the nation. There is a fascinating look at Revelletown, LA, where Georgia-Gulf manufactures vinyl chloride. Blood tests on residents in Revelletown showed high levels of PVC. The residents filed suit but settled out of court. Georgia-Gulf moved the townspeople people out of their houses to new homes 2 miles from their plant. Because of the out-of-court settlements, people can not talk about their health problems. Footage at a hearing on Rollins hazardous waste incinerator in Baton Rouge, showed one man discussing the results of a December 1987 report prepared by C-K Associates for the LA DEQ, which showed that 100% of fish placed in the water from Rollins died within 4 hours; and that 50% of fish died within 4 hours when placed in 1 (one) gallon of Rollins water combined with 24 gallons of pure water. The story of the Mississippi River is a symbol for what is happening in our global environment, and that the heroism of the people in this video can be a model for environmental activism in every community, including yours. Available from We All Live Downstream Project, PO Box 29490, Wash., DC 20017. Tel: 202-529-6569