Sunday, March 16, 2014

Continuing Our Composting Campaign

Something old for something new (-ish). (3/15/14)
Things change. As you get oder, I've learned, things change more quickly than one can imagine. The reminder of this truth I came across this week had to do with the evolution of our home composting here in River City. Long an advocate for sustainability, it was my wife who prompted me, along with our sons, to erect an outdoor composting pit made of chicken wire and metal posts behind our shed nearly ten years ago.

The original pit in action.
Six falls later (and numerous leaves) later in August 2005, we took another step, adding a raised plastic cube composting bin in our backyard, primarily for kitchen waste. This second pit, a Deluxe Pyramid Composter,  became our primary receptacle for eggshells, fruit/vegetable skins and rinds, and compostable coffee filters, while we continued to use the larger original one for leaves and grass clippings. Along the way, we experimented with coir fillers and compostable bags with varying degrees of success. (FYI: not all bags which are said to decompose in a reasonable amount of time do--more often than not they seem just to muck of the pitchfork teeth when attempts to turn the pit are made.)

Now, after maintaining a five-year, two-composter status quo (in the intervening years I also installed a rainwater barrel to our house's gutter system), we have taken another step in our journey toward a measure of sustainability. (Recognize that the "we" is used in the most royal of senses--my wife does the thinking and I do the leg work--well, most of it.)  Three weeks ago my wife and I took another step toward more sensible sustainability ... by joining Community Composting in Rochester, New York.

Into the Deluxe Pyramid Composter.
The way it works is very simple: we save our kitchen waste, or scraps, (the amount of which actually increases due to their ability to compost more complex materials than we can in our backyard) in a green plastic container and leave it our on the stoop each collection day. One of the systemic benefits of living in the city, all regular garbage, including standard recyclables are picked up on the same schedule as our little green bin.. With this past Thursday collection, we also experienced our first swap with Community Composting--they collected our green bin, left us a clean one and left a similarly sized white bin with compost for our use. This is just one possible outcome, the receipt of compost for personal gardening, with another possibility being the donation of the compost generated to community gardens and neighborhood associations.

There is a fee involved, but for those who do elect to participate, there is the satisfaction of contributing to a reduction in the loop of food to waste to food. Given the volume of leaves and clippings our small city tad somehow generates, our participation in Community Composting is not a replacement for the other things we have done in the past, but is just another way we can refine the process so it works best (or easiest) for us.

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