Recycling via blue box programs. Photo © William Mewes, via flickr & creative commons

The Hartland landfill faces a revenue shortage. The $107 tipping fee covers the costs of running the dump and the region’s Blue Box recycling program. Although the Powers-That-Be are considering solutions, shortfalls in user-pay income at the dump will likely continue. As more and more items are diverted from the garbage stream, less material will end up at Hartland, and fewer fees will be paid.

We’ve all experienced other versions of this scenario. We’ve upgraded to energy-efficient appliances, draught-proofed our homes, and brought household energy use down. Yet, our Hydro bills are higher than ever. We’ve switched to water-efficient dishwashers, toilets and showers, landscaped our yards with drought-tolerant plants, and now use less water than ever. Yet, water bills have increased.

Even as we recycle more and more, the costs of managing our waste—be it materials that are reused, recycled, composted, turned into fuel, or landfilled—are unlikely to go down. How we pay those costs will change. New provincial recycling regulations, coming into effect May 19, will shift costs from taxpayers to producers and, ultimately, to consumers. But as traditional user-pay revenue streams shrink, more and more pressure will be placed on governments (read, taxpayers) to make up shortfalls.

And with the CRD aiming for an eventual zero-waste goal for the region, the question of how to pay for the Hartland Landfill will become ever sharper. To quote CRD Communications and Education Development Supervisor Monique Booth from the March 29 edition of this newspaper, “Our direction now is to move up the hierarchy, in the sense that if we reduce or reuse these items, we don’t even have to deal with recycling them. It’s about only buying what you need, buying items that are higher quality so you don’t have to replace them as frequently…. So it’s about being smart with your purchases and only buying what you need.”

Zero waste is a laudable goal. The world is awash in waste. A Texas-sized island of plastic garbage gyres in the mid-North Pacific. Beaches and bays along the coast accumulate refuse brought in on currents and tides. Landfills are filling up. The waste-incineration industry, which zero-waste proponents insist falls outside the reduce–reuse–recycle definition of zero waste, is booming in many countries.

But turning towards a zero-waste economy will entail excruciating growing pains….

Read the rest of the editorial at the Victoria Times Colonist….

Sooke reservoir, March 5, 2014. Photo © Capital Regional District

We can relax. The Sooke Reservoir is filled to capacity—once again, and at last. The series of storms that recently charged across the region did the honours. Together, they dropped 83 per cent of the rainfall we typically see in all of a March in the month’s first nine days, and ended the region’s latest winter dry spell.

A full reservoir means we now face summer with only the usual limits on water use. Years of summertime water restrictions have trained many of us to turn blind eyes to brown lawns and dusty vehicles.

Managing water is key to ensuring enough remains to go around in coming years. Last year’s hot, dry weather provided a taste of what climate-change models predict for the coast in coming decades—longer, warmer, drier summers, and more more-intense storms, particularly in winter. Although we cannot control when, where or how much rain falls here, we can to some extent control what happens once it hits the ground.

Two measures in B.C. that relate to that concept come to mind….

Read the rest of this editorial at the Victoria Times Colonist….

Bottled water. Photo © Steven Depolo, creative commons

Ferry across Georgia Strait. Photo © JamesZ_Flickr

On a recent trip to Vancouver, a great yellow tongue of dirty air greeted us as the ferry surged into Georgia Strait. Stretching out from Vancouver, the tongue licked at the shores of Galiano and Mayne islands.

“We’re travelling right into it,” Nature Boy said. “Gotta love these temperature inversions.”

For much of January, warm air sat like a pot lid over the south coast, trapping cooler air in valleys and against the mountains. At higher elevations, the warm temperatures messed up the ski hills. Down below, in the Lower Mainland, people stewed in chill, polluted air.

And here, coiling out of the Fraser Valley, the corpse-coloured smog tongue demonstrated, on a small scale, pollution’s potential long reach. Wind, rain and pollution recognize no boundaries, and don’t stop at the shoreline, the farm gate or the border….

Read the rest of this editorial at the Victoria Times Colonist.

Pacific banana slug: secret origin of the slime-fountain of youth. Photo © Jitze Couperus,

Could the Pacific banana slug be the secret behind the slime-fountain of youth?

Years ago, when commiserating about my squeamishness for slugs, Nature Boy speculated that these terrestrial molluscs might yet surprise us.

“Perhaps scientists will discover remarkable youth-preserving compounds in the slime, and we’ll start eagerly smearing slugs on our faces.”

You have no idea how sorry I am to report it has come to pass. Spas in Japan and the U.K. recently started offering snail facials. Clients pay handsomely for the privilege of having snails slither youth-enhancing slime all over their faces.

Its coiled shell distinguishes the snail from its naked cousin, the slug. Both slime-meisters belong to the mollusc group known as gastropods—so called because they appear to use their stomachs (gastro) as feet (pod).

Their slime apparently contains natural antibiotics, elastin, collagen, glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid and many compounds known to heal cuts, soften scar tissue, fight infections, repair sun damage, regenerate skin cells, and make skin look younger, tighter and brighter.

And younger.

Did I mention younger? ….

Read the rest of this editorial in the Victoria Times Colonist….