Backyard Composting – a Great Way to Save Money and the Planet

Unrecognizable person pouring kitchen waste into compost bin, close-up of handsWith Ontario’s growing trend toward municipal user fees for waste removal, it makes sense to think of ways to offset these costs, while also helping to protect our planet. Backyard composting is a great way to reduce your use of landfills while also making fantastic fertilizer for your garden. And it’s so easy.
Many municipalities offer inexpensive composters or you can pick up composting units in plastic or wood from your local hardware store. If you have the space, you can make your own – even a simple pile will work as long as you follow these simple and easy steps:
1. Locate your composter on loosened soil in an accessible, shady location. Remember that you’ll be adding material even throughout the winter.
2. Add your compost material in layers of greens and browns. Greens are kitchen scraps, such as vegetables, fruit, tea bags, coffee grounds and crushed eggshells, grass clippings and weeds. Browns are leaves, cut-up twigs, sawdust and shredded paper products.
3. Add water. Your compost should be damp, but not wet.
4. Occasionally, add some soil. This will add the microorganisms that will help break down the material and will deter insects.
5. Add air. Every month or so, turn the compost well.
For a backyard composter, avoid adding fish, meat, dairy products, fats or oils. These materials may attract pests. Keep pet waste or any painted wood out of your compost – you don’t want these in your garden.
If pests are a concern, planting mint or other aromatic plants around your composter will discourage critters. However, as long as you keep your compost layered, damp and turned, it should not smell and it won’t attract unwanted attention from wildlife.
In a few short months, your compost will be ready for your garden. Its nutrient-rich qualities will keep your plants healthy and happy and keep those user fees where they belong –  in your pocket.

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Walk This Way – What’s Your Neighbourhood’s Walkability Score?

Two business professionals on street
Being able to walk to work and run most of your errands on foot is a feature home buyers are demanding more and more these days as they move away from the expense and dependency of having a car in exchange for health, convenience, budget and environmental reasons.
Realtors now have a handy tool at the ready to help sell a neighbourhood’s amenity-friendly features. It’s called Walk Score and more than 20,000 real estate sites across Canada include a Walk Score on their listings. They’re becoming popular in the U.S. and Australia, too.
Walk Score is a number between zero and 100 that measures the walkability of any address. A Walk Score awards points based on the distance from a residential property to amenities such as grocery stores, restaurants, shops and schools.
Here’s how it works. If the closest amenity is within 0.4 kilometres, the maximum number of points is assigned. The number of points declines as the distance approaches 1.6 km, in which case no points are awarded.
Scores of 90 – 100 are described as a Walkers Paradise, one in which daily errands do not require a car. Scores of 70 – 89 are called Very Walkable, meaning most errands can be done on foot. Scores of 50 – 69 are deemed Somewhat Walkable with some amenities being within walking distance. Scores under 50 mean that the property is car dependent, where almost all errands will require use of a car.
In Ontario, for example, Toronto earned a score of 71, making it the second best in the country behind Vancouver at 78. Mississauga is fourth nationwide at 59, next is Ottawa at 54 and Hamilton earned eighth spot with a score of 51, in a tie with Edmonton.
For sellers, there’s value in a Walk Score because for every point a neighbourhood earns on its Walk Score, the higher its real estate value. And first time buyers should also keep an eye on their community’s Walk Score, because it will affect resale values as demand for walkability increases in the future.
In fact, the Ontario Real Estate Association revealed in a recent survey that 80 per cent of young people (ages 18-34) want to work close to where they live so being able to walk to work from home is a definite desired selling feature.
So when you’re looking to move to a new address, head to the walkscore.com website and find out your potential neighbourhood’s Walk Score. Better yet – ask us!

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