Why Compost?

composting_smEver feel late to the party? A few years ago I got on the composting bandwagon because I knew it was a good idea and most of my friends had composts and we had a little land, so why not?

My husband built us a beauty in our backyard and put a raccoon-proof lid on it. For a while we used it and I researched what to put in it (not meat, dairy or oil) and how to layer it (with leaves, grass clippings, newspaper). Then I waited for the magic heat that never came to turn it all into beautiful mulch.

Then… we just stopped using it. Egad. But, now that I’ve started this blog, and have friends who are so determined to reduce their landfill waste that they’ve started wormeries  how could I not at least revisit my compost bin? I had to reflect to find out what was holding me back (habits fascinate me, btw). Maybe some of these things apply to you:

  • The counter-top ceramic bin that was the waypoint for items going to the compost bin stunk to high-heaven and was disgusting to clean.
  • The counter-top ceramic bin’s lack of transparency meant we just jammed it full of stuff and as long as we could cram the lid closed we didn’t think about it, so the contents started to decompose.
  • Even when the counter-top bin got too full to cram the lid on, we were too lazy to empty it (plus it stank) so organic matter started going into the garbage (just being honest here!).
  • I like the idea of gardening but I’m not really a gardener, so we don’t have any real reason to compost other than reducing our landfill garbage.
  • We never benefited financially from reducing our garbage when we were composting before.
  • What did it matter anyway if my organic matter decomposed in my backyard or in a landfill – wasn’t CO2 and methane produced anyway? (Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 72% more powerful than carbon dioxide.)

Ok, so now I had a list of negative motivators, I could change them to get the result I wanted: reducing my landfill garbage by composting.

  • Clearly, I needed to do something about the counter-top ceramic bin. This might sound ugly, but I just started using plastic bags from the grocery store  and will soon replace them with COMPOSTABLE bags made from corn. Yay! Bags don’t have lids, so no decomposing, no stink, no clean up – one problem solved.
  • Ok, I’ll probably never be much of a gardener but while I was doing some research for this post, I found out why my compost never got hot or turned into great mulch – I needed to turn it. Oops. In fact, the reason compost piles don’t produce as much methane as landfills is because of watering and turning.  Turning prevents anaerobic decomposition.
  • Since we started composting again, we’ve only been filling our garbage can up every other week, so I called our local BI Disposal and asked if I put out a smaller can would we get charged less? – yes, $7/wk less. $364/yr – WooHoo! Running out to buy a mini can now!

Now, I have my positive motivators in place. I’m composting, saving money, sending a little less methane out into the atmosphere. If you’re feeling late to the party, don’t worry, there are plenty of DIY compost bin tutorials online. Or, if you’re an apartment dweller, consider a wormery – how bad could it be?

Follow up: Sustainable Baby Steps has a good list of what can and cannot be put in a compost bin.

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