We have all grown up in a throw away world. A world where we are told that our only responsibility for waste management is to ensure that we have garbage bags at home and our drains to the sewer are open. The consequence of this practice is that each of us today exports to others nearly 3 kilograms of garbage and over 300 L of sewage every day! Effectively, we throw away about 25% of all the energy we use and 100% of the water we use! If we could simply use all these by-products of our consumption we could prevent the emission of nearly half the greenhouse gases that we need to reduce in order to become sustainable, according to the agreement we signed recently in Paris. One can argue that we are as much unsustainable because of bad consuming habits as we are because of our throw away habits.
Our behavior is a serious problem in all our communities, globally. However, the problem becomes even more severe when it comes to our remote, Aboriginal and Northern communities and work camps. Today, in many of our remote communities, garbage is simply trucked to a location just outside the community and is set on fire in an open field. When the regular open burning of garbage is avoided, the garbage dumps periodically catch fire spontaneously causing major environmental and economic problems, as was the case in Iqaluit a couple of years ago when the local dump caught fire creating the famous “dumpcano” that burned, covering the community in toxic smoke, for four months and cost about $3 million to extinguish.
However, the economic, environmental and social damage done to our remote communities from our current waste management approach is far greater that the occasional dump fire or the polluted nearby river. Every person living in these communities is taught to throw away about $500 worth of energy in the form of garbage every year. Clean water, which is often brought to each household by truck, while another truck takes away the sewage, is also of much higher value in Arctic communities. Not surprising, a recent poll amongst the residents determined that the three most frequent problems for our remote communities are: energy, water and waste management!
The generation in our remote communities and work camps of critical resources, such as energy, water and food, from renewable sources currently thrown away as waste, would reduce the dependency of our remote communities on the supplies of diesel and food from the South and be part of the solution that enables healthy, autonomous living. People that lived in our North would benefit greatly from integrating their long history of sustainability in these harsh conditions with modern technology to generate their primary resources, locally and independently from the Grid applied in the urban South.
Terragon’s mission, since the creation of the company in 2004, has been to enable off-Grid sustainability by enabling everyone to use all the resources that we now throw away, within our habitat. Towards this mission, the Canadian Government, principally through Sustainable Development Technology Canada, has supported and partially funded the development of two unique appliances that we invite you to explore on our website at www.terragon.net