Friday, July 27, 2007

Reduction update: garbage & compost

The boys and I actually set up sheet composting/bed preparation about 2 weeks ago on the grass-overrun backyard garden beds. I still can hardly believe that I finally did this thing I've been "meaning" to do for several years. A friend has this quote in her email signature:

"There is a difference between interest and commitment. When you are interested in doing something, you do it only when it's convenient. When you are committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results." - Ken Blanchard

I am definitely committed to reducing our emissions tons and tons (haha, I guess that's a joke? tons of CO2...). Dear husband is on a rare business trip, and I took the opportunity to see how it is to leave the a/c off completely, opening the house up to catch cooler night air. Since I only cool our upstairs bedroom to 84F anyway, maybe we can continue opening the house up at night after his return. We love our bedroom ceiling fan, and the two little tower fans in the living/dining area.

Back to the composting. To start, we laid down cardboard from boxes (to block light to the weedy grassy stuff), watered it well, and dumped a bunch of grass clippings on top, spreading that to the edges of the cardboard. A week later (mowing day on our street, apparently!), I liberated bags of untreated grass clippings from a neighbor and added those to what my husband acquired from mowing our yard. Then... I did the second amazing thing. I started saving kitchen scraps and actually dug them into the grass clippings. Twice!

Then I started to worry about whether I was doing this all wrong... found some Web sites that discouraged kitchen scraps, especially with sheet composting... started to worry that my browns and greens were out of balance.... But I kept saving my kitchen scraps. Right now I have a kitchen bowl (with a lid) full of a week's worth of fairly wet kitchen scraps I need to toss somewhere! So I did some more research and decided to trust the several pro-sheet and trench composting sites that encouraged kitchen scrap use.

I'm a little worried still that I don't have enough browns, but now I know to check for an ammonia smell when I tuck the kitchen scraps into the composting beds. If it's there, I'll get the boys to join me in hand-shredding some paper and newspaper, and mix that in.

Here's the final amazing thing. We produce so much compostable kitchen waste! I love redirecting the food scraps (not meat or dairy or fats), and that includes coffee grounds and tea bags, but wow, it adds up fast. It has made a big impact on the amount of kitchen garbage we send to the landfill.

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