March 2020 — Edina resident DJ Turner spent many of his formative years on a family farm in Tinley Park, Illinois. Although a blossoming suburb of Chicago today, the area did not offer much by way of civic services at that time.
“Among other things, we didn’t have a garbage pickup service,” Turner recalled. “Honestly, though, that wasn’t something we missed. ... We didn’t produce much true trash.”
His chores included removing the family’s kitchen waste to a stainless steel pail. “When full, I’d haul that pail to the farm’s gardens and bury our scraps between rows of vegetables,” he continued. “It is such great fertilizer. … We didn’t think of it this way at the time, but really, this means I’ve been composting all my life!”
Fast forward to today. Turner still owns farmland in Illinois, but he outsources day-to-day operations to a qualified farmer closer to the parcel. Another factor that is different is that – unlike the simple days of his childhood – Turner now devotes quite a bit of conscious thought to affordable, sustainable practices.
“In large amounts, fertilizers can be expensive. You have to balance soil needs against cost and various [environmental] impacts,” Turner explained. He feels fortunate to have a professional on the ground who can work with him to balance all these factors and implement viable solutions.
By contrast, adhering to best practices for his own house in the Minnehaha Woods Neighborhood of Edina feels refreshingly straightforward.
“There is standard recycling, of course; and if you’re going through the trouble of segregating stuff anyway, organics collection makes a meaningful difference, too,” Turner said.
He thinks of it this way. “As a household, my wife, Lisa, and I don’t produce all that much waste – excepting when the kids visit home around Christmastime.” However, “if you multiply what we put out in a week by the number of families in the city, you’re suddenly [keeping a lot] out of the trash heap, right?”
The Turners contract with Vierkant Disposal for periodic curbside pickup. While it is not a free service, “I think of it this way. Earth is alike an enclosed glass jar. Whatever goes on in it, good or bad, we have to deal with. … If you’re not intentional about where your waste goes, we [collectively] pay the price for that decision eventually.”
For this reason, Turner was excited to learn of the City of Edina’s intentions to expand and standardize organics compost pickup services throughout the city. Citywide organics recycling collection begins in May.
“I hope this move will force people to take a look at their own practices, and [instill] a consciousness that lasts,” Turner shared.
“Does an understanding of air pollution lead people to buy smaller, cleaner vehicles instead of giant V8 engines? In [general], perhaps not. But sorting food leftovers and degradable paper products is pretty easy, a very approachable start. … And, in time, we can hope that it makes busy people think twice about other things they can do for the ‘glass jar,’ as well.”