Let me acknowledge up front that composting (and recycling) is about living better, but not about living more simply, because what could be simpler than putting all of your waste in one bin and then bringing it to the curb or the trash chute for someone else to deal with?
If you don’t already compost and think you might be the kind of person who could get excited about significantly reducing the amount of true garbage you create, please read on.
Backyard composting: we did this for the 13 years that we lived in our house. Although we were possibly the laziest backyard composters ever—jamming our black bins with kitchen waste and yard waste year-round while disregarding recommendations to alternate green and brown waste and ensure adequate moisture—every summer we produced some amount of what I considered excellent dirt, which we used to amend garden beds and fill holes. When we couldn’t fit yard waste into our compost bins, we hauled it to one of our county compost sites.
Neighborhood organics composting: after we moved into our rental condo and I started cooking more, I realized I was sending A LOT of potential dirt to a landfill or incinerator. Last month I learned that we have access to a drop-off organics composting site in a neighborhood that we pass through regularly, and now that I’ve dropped off my first bag I am practically giddy about how far we can go to reduce the trash we produce. The site accepts all of the kitchen waste you would put in a typical backyard compost bin, plus meat and bones, dairy products, greasy pizza boxes, wax paper including butter wrappers, vacuum cleaner bags and contents (minus metal or plastic pieces), paper towels and napkins, and more. If you’re thinking this is something you’d like to bring to your community, here’s a video (1:32) produced by the compost hauler and a brief outline of how this organics composting site came to be (in case the names need translating, creation of the site was an effort led by neighborhood residents involving a local college, private businesses, local elected officials, and an existing intergovernmental coordinating board).
Indoor composting: ever heard of a worm bin? You can compost kitchen waste indoors by creating a hospitable environment for red wiggler worms and letting them do the work of processing the waste into dirt. Here’s a video (5:29) on how to make your own worm compost bin from LivingaSimpleLife.com. There seems to be some disagreement over whether worm bins attract fruit flies (my mom used a worm bin for a while and says she didn’t notice fruit flies), and since you have worm lives to sustain, this composting method requires attention and effort. I’m also not sure one worm bin could handle all of the kitchen waste produced by someone who is cooking with a lot of fruits and vegetables, but it seems worth a try if you don’t have other ways to compost.
What has been your experience with composting?