31 January 2012

Apartment Project 1: Composting

Compost Bin

This weekend, J and I started our compost bucket. Sometime in April I will go down to the Somerville DPW and pick up an Earth Machine compost bin, but for now we are planning on taking the compost we accumulate to Whole Foods. Friends of ours do this already and they say it is pretty easy and convenient, but I also want to use the compost for gardening, so I am curious to see how many of the scraps we end up using when we have our own machine, and whether we will still need to make trips to Whole Foods after we get a compost bin in the back yard.

Compost Bin Top ViewOur bucket is a white, 5 gallon bucket that we picked up at Home Depot. We already had an orange 5 gallon bucket, but the designer in me cringed at drawing that much attention to a waste receptacle, and if this is going to be a permanent lifestyle change and not just an experiment, I need the bucket to blend. Given a choice of two lids (screw top and traditional), we went with the screw top lid, which seals in the smell and makes the bin easier to access than a traditional paint bucket lid—how easily the food will be dumped out is TBD. When we got home we lined the bin with this year's tax literature, and went to town cleaning out the fridge. I think this project will only get easier as time goes on, and I am psyched to produce less garbage, and I can easily see this fundamentally changing everything about how I operate in my kitchen. I even had pangs when I composted my juice extracts this morning because I know I can consume them in some way instead of composting them, but I contented myself with the knowledge that baby steps make for better permanent habit changes.

I have a personal challenge with myself to reduce our landfill-bound waste to one garbage bag a month or less. Dare I dream of being a zero waste household? For now, we've had fun researching what we can and cannot compost (spoiler alert: you can compost many, many things you might have thought you couldn't), but we're doing what we can, and I am so excited to start this journey.


Unknown said...

Within a couple of weeks, you will probably be astounded at A) how easy it is, B) how little trash you have left after composting and recycling, and C) why it took you so long to start composting. That was our experience, anyhow.

We are now lucky to have weekly curbside compost pickup in Portland (!) which takes both classic backyard compost as well as meat/dairy/oil scraps. Trash pickup has been reduced to every other week, and if we didn't have cat litter to deal with, even that would be more frequent that necessary. (And if our toilet training is successful, no more cat litter either!) One bag of trash a month might take a little work, but I think you'll get there.

- JH

briar said...

That is awesome that you guys have curbside compost pickup! We just went to Whole Foods last night, and it was a little messy, to say the least. it would also be helpful to have a yard with a working hose, since we had to rinse the bucket in the shower, and that was a little weird.

Every three weeks wouldn't be too bad...since we don't have cats, I think we'll be able to reach that goal before we know it.