I started composting, really getting into it, about a year ago, when I bought a black plastic bin from the hardware store and proudly set it in my yard. I envisioned creating rich black earth, or as my neighbor so aptly put it, “making free dirt.”
Next I put an old lidded pot, lobster-sized, (not sure where I got it, since I would never submit a lobster to such torture) next to my sink in the kitchen. From then on, I began collecting all my kitchen waste and depositing it the bin, where I also added my yard waste. Soon, everything from celery tops to grass clippings, sticks and weeds were finding a new home, and a new life in my plastic friend.
It was such a simple concept and so satisfying – watching everything turn from garbage and waste into soil – I became obsessive about my mission…at first.
But after a while, my enthusiasm dwindled a bit. Dumping the kitchen waste wasn’t much fun when temperatures dropped below freezing. And turning the compost, which I heard was kind of important, got to be a real drag. I wasn’t totally callused to my compost’s plight, because I still thought about it fondly. But after a few moments, instead of feeding it or infusing it with oxygen, I would find something more fun to do, like reading a book, taking a shower, or thinking about my own oxygen replenishing.
Sadly, my bin started feeling the consequences of my neglect. It’s breaking-down processes slowed to a snail’s pace and it started to smell kind of funny. At this point, I knew it was beyond help; but frankly so was I. I wondered about looking into a some kind of 12-step program? “Hi, I’m Molly, and I’m a bad composter.”
So, I went to a composting lecture at our local university (who knew they even had such things) where the speaker touched a chord in my greenie heart. Basically, he reminded me why I started composting in the first place. It wasn’t about creating awesome dirt from bits of old lettuce and some twigs. It was more about changing my carbon footprint, one step at a time. I needed to be reminded of this – that every green thing I do, isn’t for me. It’s for the earth and for future generations.
I came home rejuvenated.
It’s been few weeks since that lecture and my composting enthusiasm has returned. Oh, perhaps part of my renewed interest stems from the warmer days – no more butt-freezing bin deposits now that spring is here. Additionally, I’m in the yard more and it just seems more practical, and a whole lot easier, to dump unwanted vegetation in the bin rather than leave it in a bag out on the curb.
But then again, I’m also paying more attention to turning the compost regularly, and my bin is reaping the results of my attention. It’s healthy and successfully breaking down yard stuff and leftovers and making that rich soil I love so much.
That lecture helped me bring my compost bin back from the edge of death, yes. But it sparked in me a renewed sense of being green. I was reminded that every green thing I do today isn’t about me, even when it seems so self-satisfying. It’s about what we will leave behind.
Once again, it’s a simple concept. But one we can’t afford to forget.