Before I had kids, I did all kinds of things I am no longer able (or willing) to do. Life B.K. (before kids) involved more time and more money. Luxurious indulgences like monthly pedicures and hair appointments. Yoga classes four or five times a week. Unencumbered travel. Sigh. Those were the days. But the things I miss aren’t all glitter and roses. I had more time B.K. to make more of an effort for my community. One thing I pass daily is my old composting bin.
Two houses and two kids ago, I gardened and composted and gave away the spoils of both. I was “making a difference” in my very own backyard. Then we had kids and moved to the suburbs. I brought the bin, but never got it up and running. It sat. For five years. Last year we moved again, and that smelly bin came with again because THIS time, I was going to get it going again. The kids are bigger now! They can help! This is important! But still, it sat. Next summer, I said, then I’ll do it. Winter is harder anyway.
Then one day in church, the topic for the education hour was “Composting Made Easy.” Hallelujah! This would renew my vigor and get my bin going.
Friends. This was not a tutorial on my smelly, backyard bin. This was an informational session on how NOT to have a smelly, backyard bin! (Side note: if your backyard bin doesn’t smell, you are winning at composting; I never won.) Here in this beautiful Minnesota town, they do the composting for us. FOR US. All we have to do is collect the stuff and drop off the stuff. The end. SO EASY. I promise. Even the drop-off locations are convenient.
- It’s a simple thing we can do with good results for our planet.
- Over one-third of our trash is made up of organics that can be composted. The advantage of commercial composting (over your backyard bin) is the wide range of organics that can be recycled. Because more heat is generated in large compost piles, many more items can be broken down safely and efficiently (see the complete list here).
- We reduce garbage disposal use, meaning less waste going to water treatment plants, saving energy.
- We create a nutrient-rich product to add to soil (be blown away by the information here).
All of that is reason enough, but my mother earth mama heart sings when I watch my kids sort their garbage. My four-year-old son often corrects his dad about what can be recycled and what can be composted. We empty our trash bin once a week, but our recycling and compost bins two to three times. (Another side note: if you fill your recycling bin up while you’re waiting on the off-week, they’ll give you ANOTHER bin. For free. Just ask.)
To get started, just sign up (it’s FREE, they just want to know who is participating), get a little bucket with a lid (ice cream pail or a fancy compost-specific bin), a big bucket with a lid, and some bags (paper or BPI compostable, available at our local grocery stores). When the little bucket you keep by the sink or in the fridge is full, you empty it into the big bucket (which you keep in the garage, basement, other out-of-the-way location). When the big bucket is full, you take it to the drop-off center. For our family of four, that’s about twice a month. If you want to reap the benefits directly, you can buy the finished compost, too. Full circle. All local. (Info at mankatozerowaste.com) You can also make sure to patronize local businesses that compost and/or use compostable take-out containers.
If you are reading this and you’re NOT in our great community, I encourage you to explore your options, even if it leads you to the backyard bin. Until your community catches up, it’s a great way to get started. You’ll just need more patience and a little bit more time. Life after kids (A.K.) is more hectic, but it’s also more precious. You’ll feel almost as good about your contributions as you do after a pedicure. More if you’re lucky. Your grandkids’ grandkids thank you.