This illustration shares why it’s important to nurture the limited farmable land we have.

This illustration shares why it’s important to nurture the limited farmable land we have.

If the Earth were an apple…

The case for NOT throwing away the ingredients for top-quality soil

Of the earth’s 148,000,000 km² of land, approximately 31,000,000 km² can be used to grow crops; however, arable land is being lost at the rate of over 100,000 km² per year.

Those numbers may seem big, but if you used the metaphor of an apple representing the Earth, you’d discover that not much land is suitable for farming. Picture cutting the apple into four equal pieces. Now eat three of those pieces – as they represent the world’s oceans. Now cut the final quarter in half. Eat one of the half sections – it symbolizes all the land that is not farmable land, like deserts or polar ice caps.

You are left with an eighth of an apple. This eighth now gets cut into another four quarters. You can now eat three of these four sections as they represent land that is too rocky, steep, or cold to grow crops.

Now, there’s not a whole lot of apple left – in fact, it’s only 1/32 of the apple. From the initial apple to the sliver that remains, it’s only the skin of the apple that represents the area of the Earth’s crust that has topsoil good enough to farm.

How does this analogy translate to collecting organics in Port Alberni?

This example highlights the importance of keeping and creating good soil for our limited farmable land.

If you didn’t eat or compost the pieces of the apple as they were discarded, and just threw it into the garbage, there’s no opportunity for the apple to decompose. The discarded apple pieces would head to the landfill where they’d be buried, wasting valuable space, and create methane gas (a harmful greenhouse gas).

Good quality topsoil is rare and needs to be valued. Composting is an efficient way to create new soil or augment existing soil to grow nutrient-rich produce. We should not be throwing compostable items – the ingredients for top-quality soil – into the landfill!

In 2019, the AV Landfill generated 15,971 tonnes of waste. When broken down, 30 per cent of the waste was organic – food waste. This means 4.5 tonnes of organic/food waste could have been repurposed and diverted from the landfill. That’s a lot of potential soil!

With the new Sort’nGo Organics roadside collection service being introduced this summer by the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District for residential homes in the City of Port Alberni, this renewable resource will be utilized rather than sent to the landfill.

Residential food waste (including meat, dairy, fat and bones), yard waste and compostable fiber products (paper towels and tissues) will be composted by a local processor to create more topsoil and compost rather than garbage. This in turn will assist with keeping our soil healthy, nurture crops and support local food security initiatives.

Visit for more information about the Organics Collection Service and to ask questions.

Questions about sorting? Download the free Sort’nGo app from your mobile app store. You can also check out the Facebook page “Alberni Valley Waste Reduction Education” which has weekly tips and updates for the valley.

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional DistrictGreen Living

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