Julie Seifert

The Thrill (and Fear?) of Composting

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“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”
-Robert Swan

Lately I have been in a soup making mood, so each week I am trying out new recipes.  After I made my last soup, I had a lot of vegetable peelings, onion ends, etc.  Not only did I throw them away in the trash (gasp!), but I put them in plastic bag first (double gasp!!).  I literally held that bag over the trash can for a few minutes, perhaps asking Mother Nature to forgive me for what I was about to do.  I vowed then and there that I would start composting.

As a student of horticulture, I learned about the chemistry of composting, and it seemed so easy.  So why was I terrified of starting?  I was afraid of being a compost failure.  That I would end up with a stinky mess that the raccoons and possums loved, but did my gardens no service.  I shook that off and got to work getting my tools together.

I had money coming back from my charge card, so I decided to use it for my tools.  I exhaustively researched compost bins, tumblers, piles, etc.  I decided on a tumbler because: 1) it was off the ground, so it would be more difficult for critters to get in; and 2) it would be easy to turn.  Having a pile in my yard was a possibility, but again, the critters.  And I read that bins sometimes were blown over if not anchored properly, and critters could burrow underneath.  Here’s my cool-ass tumbler:

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The other item I wanted to get was something for the counter top to throw food scraps in until I was ready to add them to the compost tumbler.  I could easily get a 5 gallon bucket for my garage (not an issue in the winter, but as it got warmer…), but I settled on this little number:

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Now it was time to refresh my memory on the science of composting.  I found a very helpful composting guide on a nearby county’s recycling website.  I was ready to go!

Why do I care this much about food scraps?  Several reasons:

  1. According to epa.gov, in 2015 we disposed of over $37 million TONS of food waste.   Who knows what the total is now.  This food waste ends up in our landfills or combustion facilities.  I want to add as little as possible to both of those.
  2. I save money by not buying compost and making it myself with things I already have on hand.  Besides food scraps, you can add coffee grounds, coffee filters, tea bags, egg shells, and of course dead plants, dead leaves and grass clippings to name a few.  I have an abundance of all these.
  1. Science is fun!  While I have the real fear of being a compost failure, I may succeed.  Or at least I have will fun trying different things to get it going.
  2. The soil around my home SUCKS.  It is almost pure clay, and while recently I have been breaking up the soil more before I plant, I have several areas that need to be amended to help the poor plants that have been there a while.  I can also use it for planting house plants.
  3. Most importantly, it makes me feel like I am doing my part to be a good steward to to the planet.  The definition of steward I abide by is caring for something I don’t own.  Every little bit helps, and if everyone did one small thing for the planet, imagine the possibilities!

So what does this all mean for you?

  • I hope you will think about the food you buy and if it all will be used.  The EPA has some great tips to reduce your food waste.
  • If you do have food waste, I hope you will join me in composting.  If you don’t want to buy one (I got mine on Amazon), there are several do it yourself ideas out there for containers, this article has 18 different ones you could try!
  • Maybe composting isn’t for you – what other small thing could you do to help the planet?  Just say no to plastic straws?  No to plastic bags?  Shop local farmer’s markets?  Find what speaks to you and commit.

We only have this one glorious planet.  It is our duty to take care of her as well (or better) than she takes care of us.  Won’t you join me?

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt

 

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