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On Composting

Vermont. The very word conjures up picturesque scenes of rural farmland dotted with cows and lush green woodlands. While Vermont is beautiful and does have many acres of farmland, almost as many cows as there are people, and is America’s largest producer of maple syrup, the state also has a handful of cities speckling its landscape.

I find myself an occupant in one of Vermont’s more well-known cities, Burlington.  While Burlington is only a stone’s throw away from a handful of farms outside the city limits, it is still difficult for city inhabitants to have more rural experiences such as gardens or lawns.  While Sunrise Spot is only a stone’s throw away from Lake Champlain and a brilliant western view of the New York Adirondacks, our little apartment does not have a lawn in favor for add-on’s to our building and a large concrete parking lot for the occupant’s cars.  In a state so sustainably focused, composting is a big deal, even to city inhabitants.

Why compost in the first place?  To do our bit in reducing waste sent to the landfills.  When you send scraps to the landfill that could have been composted, your scraps are unable to access the oxygen needed for the decomposition process. They are then sent to an incinerator that creates toxic ash waste and carbon dioxide into our atmosphere.  If that isn’t enough, landfill material is known to release methane that is contributing to our rapidly changing climate.

Home-made compost is wonderful for plants!  I use a mixture of my own compost and a compost heap from a nearby farm to feed my houseplants and small indoor herb and vegetable garden.  Instead of buying machinery-reliant compost from a gardening center, I am guaranteed a soil that has been completely broken down by natural fungi and bacteria.  The compost that isn’t used for gardening, packed to bursting with vital micronutrients, and collected in a well-maintained compost heap could produce minimal to no methane emissions.  Composting is Mother Nature’s way of recycling, after all, and she has been doing this for quite a bit longer than we have.

So how do we – as apartment-dwellers and city-slickers – compost if we don’t have a compost heap or bin in the backyard?  What Sawyer and I have agreed on is a relatively simple solution.  We bought a simple one-gallon stainless-steel indoor composting pail to keep in our kitchen for all of our organic, decomposable matter.IMG_5851  We fill up our pail with organic matter ranging from egg shells, carrot tops and crowns of strawberries, peanut shells, coffee grounds, and even cat-fur dust bunnies from under the dresser.  Every Saturday morning at 7:30, Sawyer and I walk one mile south to the closest CSWD Drop-Off Center (Chittenden Solid Waste District) to empty our pail into their composting bins.  We then walk back home, clean out our pail, and start the week fresh.

Many people do not compost simply because they are afraid that the pails will stink up their small living spaces.  I have found a way around this.  My homespun odor eliminator is simply to place my pail in my freezer.  The cold air not only eliminates the odor from the food scraps but also delays the composting process until the scraps are safely outside the apartment.

In a rapidly-changing climate, it is within our control to live responsibly.  Taking charge of what you dispose of can greatly affect your community’s oxygen clarity, smog levels, and even climate change on the larger scale.  This choice not only has a positive affect on our environment, but also on our quality of life.  Choosing to live a purposeful life provides a happiness and well-being that cannot be fulfilled in any other way, with any other means.  Consideration – we have found – breeds a tranquility and contentment that helps us take each day in stride.  Sawyer and I are able to enjoy our two-mile walk on Saturday mornings while living more conscientiously, and our two kittens – for a brief couple of days – were able to enjoy the gift of an empty box (in which I brought home our composting pail) for a week before being broken down and composted.IMG_5848

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: On How (& Where) to Donate Your Stuff | cornsilk doll

  2. Pingback: On Sustainable Lunches | cornsilk doll

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