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Rethinking "Waste"

August 9, 2009 by Cy Scofield
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Continuing our efforts to reach new heights of self-sustainability and eco-friendly community living, for the past few months we have been raising awareness of how we can eventually eliminate refuse we produce that must be taken away to landfills.
Upon coming to the ashram this summer you’ll find that “waste”, as we previously thought of it, actually isn’t waste at all, with a little knowledge almost everything can be recycled or composted. Here is what we are recycling:
Office paper, all plastics and containers (making sure they are well-rinsed & dry! this is a commonly missed measure of courtesy for our local transfer station sorters), cardboard, aluminum cans & foil, tetrapak soy and rice milk containers, glass, and metal.
Composting is an amazing procoess, with the help of minute creatures all organic material can be broken down, yielding a soil rich in nutrients which also provides the garden with a natural disease and insect barrier, owing to the increased biodiversity of bacteria species. Things that can go in the compost include all food scraps, garden & lawn trimmings, paper towels, tissues, hay, and sawdust.
One thing we’re noticing is that snack food packaging contributes a lot to the refuse we have to manage, so keep in mind that we provide 3 healthy, delicious meals a day.
Cy
Repair, Maintenance, and Composting Coordinator
Cy Scofield shares his passion for composting and waste management at Yasodhara Ashram

Cy Scofield shares his passion for composting and waste management at Yasodhara Ashram

Cy Scofield is a 21 year old karma yogi who found Swami Radha’s book, Realities of the Dreaming Mind, in a bookstore in Maine. He was deeply inspired, and knew that he needed to come to Yasodhara Ashram. He is currently gaining valuable experience developing himself spiritually through karma yoga, and learning about management as one of the ashram’s young area managers.  In this post, Cy shares his experience of being at the ashram, as well as his passion for waste management, through a video and a short article.

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In the last few months at Yasodhara Ashram, we have been increasing our efforts to reach new heights in sustainability and eco-friendly community living. Our focus has been to raise awareness of the garbage we create and to eventually eliminate it.

When you arrive this summer you’ll find that “waste,” as we previously thought of it, actually isn’t waste at all. I have learned that almost everything can be recycled or composted. Here is what we are recycling:

•    Office paper
•    All plastics and containers, making sure they are well washed.
•    Cardboard
•    Aluminum cans & foil
•    Tetrapak soy and rice milk containers
•    Glass and metal

I am learning that composting is an amazing process! With the help of minute creatures all organic material can be broken down, yielding a soil rich in nutrients. This provides the garden with a natural disease and insect barrier, owing to the increased biodiversity of bacteria. According to Joseph Jenkins in his book The Humanure Handbook, the benefits of compost are even more: reducing pollution, land restoration, destroying human, plant and livestock pathogens, and saving money! Things that we are composting include all food scraps, garden & lawn trimmings, paper towels, tissues, natural unbleached cloth, and sawdust.

One thing we’re noticing is that snack food packaging contributes a lot to the refuse we have to manage. We have begun to contact companies whose snacks we sell in the bookstore to inquire about their packaging policy and if there are plans to introduce more environmentally friendly alternatives.

Editorial Note:

I followed Cy to the compost in the garden to ask him a few more questions.  What inspired him to be so passionate about waste management and composting at the Ashram?  He said that he is usually passionate about anything he undertakes! He talked about his family garden and his brother Perry who has been experimenting with a compost/manure digester that produces methane gas that subsequently provides the fuel for the farm generator.

Cy’s work with compost and waste management is in support of Yasodhara Ashram’s efforts at sustainability and our commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2013, with the goal of keeping this place (and this planet) healthy for generations to come.

I asked Cy what resources he could recommend for people who would like more information about this subject. He suggested the film Waste=Food, inspired by William McDonough’s popular seller, Cradle to Cradle.

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Stay tuned for more Area Manager videos leading up to this year’s Annual General Meetings (AGM).
To view more videos from Yasodhara Ashram on YouTube, Click Here.

As part of our initiative to increase the compatibility and accessibility of our content, we have formatted this video to a widescreen aspect ratio that is friendly to many mobile devices and widescreen computer monitors. To view this video in High Definition, you may press the HD button in the bottom right of the video player. If you would like to donate to the Yasodhara Ashram Society Click Here.


1 Comment »

  1. (in response to the video) I love to be reminded of the way things are faced and and addressed as they come up in the ashram. It’s definitely a different way of operating than what I’ve come from – i.e., save it for later… That has been one of my major learnings through the teachings and the experience of living at the ashram – how to face issues as they happen and walk forward into challenges, rather than my old habit of wanting to hide from difficult situations. And I’m still working with it! Thanks for the reminder/inspiration :)

    Comment by claire — August 9, 2009 @ 7:25 pm

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