Backyard Composting

Previously a joint-project between the City of Yellowknife and Ecology North, the Backyard Composting Program is now housed under the City of Yellowknife’s Solid Waste Facility.

Backyard Composting is a fun way for residents to manage their organics recycling at home. Citizens directly benefit from their own efforts by producing valuable compost for their yards and gardens. The City benefits by reducing collection and management costs.

The City of Yellowknife continues to sell backyard composters at a subsidized rate of $35.

Please see the City’s website for details on how to contact the gatehouse about buying a composter:
City of Yellowknife Solid Waste Management

For tips on how to backyard compost please see the links below:
Backyard Composting North of 60
Northern Backyard Farming: Composting

Compost fun fact: George Washington, the United State’s first president, was also the nation’s first recognized composter. (Source: ASCP Journal)

Recycling

Northern Communities face unique challenges in Waste Management.  Producers of food and goods transport materials into our remote communities, but local governments are responsible for dealing with the waste that is left behind.  Transporting waste out of communities is expensive and innovative solutions are needed to help our local governments keep waste out of their landfills!

Ecology North was instrumental in helping the City of Yellowknife establish their current recycling program and continues to offer assistance and recommendations to the City on the program.  We look forward to helping the City of Yellowknife increase their overall waste diversion and to working with other communities in the NWT to find effective ways to keep waste out of their landfills!

Here is a handy resource to help you reduce waste if you live in Yellowknife!

Northern Backyard Farming Booklets

Small-scale agriculture is growing in popularity in the Northwest Territories, and residents have an increased appetite for clear and simple information on the topic. The importance of producing food locally is receiving more attention from government and residents as the costs of food transportation become a significant burden. Ecology North, with support from GNWT Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, created a series of booklets related to Northern Backyard Farming in the NWT as a starting point for residents to try their hand at local food production.

#1 Raising Chickens 

More and more people are waking up to the joys of growing their own food. this guide is intended to illustrate the basics of raising chickens in your backyard. Chickens are fun, entertaining, great with kids and provide nutritious eggs and meat. This guide is the first in a series of booklets that Ecology North has developed about food in the NWT. Pick it up and give it a read; maybe chickens are your next step to eating more local healthy food grown right here in the NWT.

#2 Preserving Food

Preserving food is an age-old tradition. Freezing, drying, canning, jams and jellies, pickling, fermenting, and root cellaring are all great ways to store food from one season to the next. This guide is intended to provide some basic inspiration to preserve your own food. Preserving food can be fun, easy, interesting, and delicious. This guide is the second in a series of booklets that Ecology North has developed about food in the NWT. Pick it up and give it a read; maybe food preservation is your next step to eating more healthy and locally grown food in the NWT.

#3 Composting 

Composting is a great way to keep organic materials out of the landfill. It is a fun, inexpensive and easy way to turn food and yard waste into a valuable, nutrient-rich soil conditioner. This guide is the third in a series of booklets that Ecology North has developed about food in the NWT. Pick it up and give it a read; maybe making your own compost is your next step to growing local and healthy food right here in the NWT!

#4 Soil Health 

Growing food starts with healthy soil. There are a number of factors that can influence soil health including pH, moisture, structure, texture and nutrients. This guide is intended to provide basic information about building up and maintaining healthy soil. Understanding your soil’s health is an essential part of growing food. This guide is the fourth in a series of booklets that Ecology North has developed about food in the NWT. Pick it up and give it a read; maybe enhancing your soil’s health is your next step to growing your own food in the NWT.

#5 Spaces to Grow 

Out in the yard, on the deck, or in your home, there are many ways to garden and use the space you have to grow your own food. This guide provides ideas and useful information to help grow good food in our rugged landscape and northern climate. Be inspired to find small, unusual spaces to grow in your backyard or patio. Pick it up and give it a read; it could be the inspiration you need to grow your own food in the NWT!

#6 Beekeeping

This guide is intended to illustrate the basics of backyard beekeeping in the Northwest Territories. Beekeeping is fun and requires minimal space. It can also be challenging. With a bit of patience and a lot of hard work, you can reap a sweet reward.

This guide also emphasizes our responsibility to nurture our native bee species and the steps we can all take to reduce threats to their health.

Worm Composting

Would you like some information about how to set up your own indoor worm composting system? Are you looking for some red wigglers?

Thanks to our red wiggling friends, it IS possible to produce lovely compost in our northern climates, even during the winter! Worm composting, or vermicomposting, is a great year-round way to compost in your house, apartment, classroom or office. The worms will reduce your waste and produce rich compost that may be used to help gardens and houseplants grow. Plus, the kids will love them!

Ecology North offers the resources to help you start up a bin. If you would like free red wigglers, or more information, please contact us or feel free to drop by and ask us in person.

Waste Reduction Week

Every October, Ecology North, in partnership with GNWT Environment and Natural Resources, hosts a number of events in recognition of National Waste Reduction Week.  Past events have included film screenings, DIYs, Fix-it-Fairs, and panel discussions on waste reduction.  

Yellowknife Sustainable Event Checklist

Are you a event coordinator, volunteer, event sponsor, or just a concerned citizen? Learn how you can help reduce the impact of public events, and what you should be expecting from events in Yellowknife.

This Sustainable Event Guide was designed for the City of Yellowknife to help make planning an environmentally-friendly event simple and straightforward to do; just follow the simple checklist for guidance on waste reduction and diversion, energy consumption, transportation and provision of NWT water.

Use this guide for all sorts of events! Private and public events, meetings, festivals, parades, races, and public assemblies!

Click the Link below to open the guide:

Yellowknife Sustainable Event Guide

Composting in Remote Northern Camps

Waste management can be a challenge for operators at remote northern camps. Transporting waste off site is expensive and often not feasible, especially in the NWT. Methods for waste management at these sites typically involve landfilling or incineration of mixed waste.

This project was completed for Environment and Climate Change Canada with the goal of producing a guide to composting at remote sites. Diverting waste from the landfill has many benefits including:

  • reducing wildlife interactions,
  • increasing worker safety,
  • reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and
  • reducing environmental impact of waste management at remote sites.

This is a resource for camp managers to understand and explore the options for composting at remote worksites in Northern Canada.

Click below to open the resource:

Composting in Remote Northern Camps

Managing Hazardous Waste in Your Community

Following the successful conclusion of the Clean Start program in the Sahtu, Ecology North began working with the MACA School of Community Government and the GNWT Dept of Environment and Natural Resources to develop an instructional film intended to help NWT communities to better manage their hazardous waste.

Hazardous waste superstar Gerald Enns, along with Christine Wenman and Jeremy Flatt from Ecology North, developed a script covering the basics of dealing with a disorganized stockpile of hazardous waste and developing a community hazardous waste management plan. At just shy of forty minutes, this instructional epic leaves no stone un-turned and features interviews with municipal staff in Wekweètì reflecting on their experience of removing hazardous waste from the community as well as a comprehensive demonstration by Gerald Enns of the proper process for opening un-labelled drums and identifying the contents.

Copies of the video are available from the GNWT Department of Municipal and Community Affairs.

Sambaa K’e Hazardous Waste Remediation

Ecology North, GNWT- ENR and the community of Sambaa K’e have been working together to remove hazardous waste from the landfill.

Source Water Sampling Revealed Hazardous Waste as a Primary Concern

In 2015, the community completed a draft source water protection plan that identified several potential water quality contaminant sources within the Trout Lake watershed, and a list of desired management actions to address the potential contaminant sources, including hazardous waste in the landfill.

Following the completion of the plan, our team started moving towards implementing priority action items in the plan. Although the concerns are diverse, water quality sampling is a clear priority. During 2015-2016 we focused our implementation efforts on doing water quality sampling near abandoned well and waste sites in the watershed.

Building on the results and capacity developed during the 2015-2016 sampling work, our team decided it was the best time to move towards addressing the actions in the source water plan related to hazardous waste in the community and associated concerns about water quality impacts.

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Hazardous Waste Remediation, Phase 1

In 2016, Ecology North received funding from the World Wildlife Fund to continue our source water implementation work with the community of Trout Lake, specifically with respect to hazardous waste!

This project was aimed at addressing community concerns and questions about the potential impacts that hazardous waste materials in the community are having on surrounding water quality. Our team, which consisted of members from the Sambaa K’e Dene Band of Trout Lake and GNWT ENRinventoried, consolidated and removed hazardous waste from the community landfill, while also collecting water samples in streams and wetlands surrounding the landfill before and after the clean up.

In addition to collecting valuable data and completing an important clean up initiative, this project was a great hands-on training opportunity for community members to learn more about hazardous waste management and water sampling.

Through this project we were able to provide a unique hazardous waste training opportunity. Ecology North invited other communities to send candidates for the documenting, organizing and the final removal of Trout Lake’s hazardous materials from the local landfill. We held two training opportunities, one in the summer for the documenting, and organizing of hazardous waste ready for removal during the winter road season.

Hazardous Waste Remediation, Phase 2

Our second session commenced in March 2017 for the loading and removal of the hazardous waste on the winter road. We’d like to thank, World Wildlife fund, ENR and the following individuals from their respective communities in the successful removal of hazardous waste form the community of Trout Lake;

  • Brian Ekotla
  • Audrey Landry
  • Michael Landry
  • Travis Kotchea
  • Victor Nande
  • Victor Jumbo

Feasibility of Centralized Composting in Hay River

In March 2013, Environment Canada published a report, Technical Document on Municipal Solid Waste Organics Processing that had a target audience of medium to large Canadian municipalities. In the Canadian North, over half the population lives in small- to medium-sized communities outside of the capital cities. Recently, communities such as Hay River, Northwest Territories have expressed a desire to recycle like their southern counterparts and to compost organic residuals such as food and yard wastes. Composting organic materials using paper products as carbon sources presents an opportunity to locally convert more than 60% of the waste stream into a valuable soil amendment.

This Feasibility of Centralized Composting in Hay River report builds on this previous work by providing a case study for territorial, provincial and municipal governments, and other decision-makers to increase organics diversion in northern communities.

Click below to view the report:

Feasibility of Centralized Composting in Hay River, Northwest Territories, Canada

Appendices to the report can be found here:

Feasibility of Centralized Composting in Hay River, Appendices A, B, C, D, E, and F