Proper trash disposal was a lifestyle change for Our LEED AP, and a needed goal for everyone
Okay. I’ll admit it. I never really thought too much about where my trash ended up until I moved to Cincinnati and drove past the local landfill. It is massive and is said to be the highest point in the county! As an adult, I always tried to recycle, but now I was really motivated to keep MY trash from going to THAT landfill.
Did you know that the rotting food in our landfills creates methane gas? Most landfills use this for energy, but I decided that I could put that food waste to better use. Obviously, we should all try to eat the food that we buy, but it is sometimes impossible, and composting can ease a guilty conscience by making something out of the wasted food.
My first composter was a tumbler. It worked pretty well, but it took a while to understand the proportions of food waste to nitrogen-rich matter like leaves.
This style also has some limitations. I cannot throw animal by-products in this composter. Also, once it is full, I don’t have a place to put the food waste until the compost is ready to be removed. These types of composters can easily be found at many online retailers and are perfect for yards with limited space for composting.
While vacationing a few years ago on a nature preserve in South Carolina, I discovered a food digester. This product solves several issues, it will digest all food waste, even animal by-products, and I can continually add waste to it. It works simply by allowing microorganisms access to the food through the perforated basket that is buried in the ground. The food is turned into compost tea that seeps out into the surrounding ground providing nutrients directly to the soil. The system only needs to be cleaned out every few years. There are several systems on the market, but doing a quick web keyword search of “food digester composter” shows ways to make your own.
My latest adventure in composting is a worm bin — that’s right, worms! A landscape colleague sent out an email earlier this year advertising free worms, so I took him up on it. I have a small bin, so the capacity for composting is limited, but it has been a fun learning experience with our children.
The worms love things that have already been somewhat processed, so the waste from my juicer is perfect. Coffee and tea grounds are also good for the worm bin. The result of the worms’ hard work is the castings (worm poop), which gardeners call black gold. Castings can be used as fertilizer for all your plants.
So after all these experiments, I’ve learned to do what we all should be doing, and I am keeping as much trash as possible out of that unsightly landfill. After composting and recycling, my family of four creates only one to two bags of trash per week — compared to about one per day before.©
– Heather Curless depicts The Natural Housewife.