Pretty Soon You Will Love to Compost

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We’ve heard it before.

I don’t use the compost bin because it’s gross.

Using the green bin is just going to attract mice and flies. That’s why I don’t compost.

I don’t need to compost because I heard they’ll sort it later.

The reactions to the green composting bin when it’s first introduced to a community, or when someone moves into a community that’s composted for some time, are pretty predictable. The newcomers seem to go through a learning curve that begins with disgust and sometimes outrage, to understanding and adaptation, to a sense of purpose and empowerment.

It all takes a little bit of education. First, most people have to get their head around the basic concepts. What is organic? What can’t I put in the bin? Where does it go? How does my chicken bone become compost?

Eventually, they start to see how separating food scraps and yard trimmings from the garbage protects the air, water and soil. And then they start to think about what zero waste means.

I find myself caring in ways I’ve never cared before.

One example of a change of heart is Shideh Etaat’s “I Refused to Compost“.  In her article, she writes “the other day when I tucked my banana peel into my bag because there was no compost bin to be found on the street. It felt like a small triumph when I dumped it in my own not-too-gross green bin when I got home”.

Thanks for sharing your story Shideh!  We look forward to hearing more about how you’ve learned to compost. Share your stories with us on facebook and Twitter.

You can read more about Shideh’s experience at http://www.thebolditalic.com/shidehe/stories/2872-i-refused-to-compost.

7 Responses to “Pretty Soon You Will Love to Compost

  • I’d have to talk with you below. Which is not something I usually accomplish! I enjoy looking at a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me personally to comment!

  • Ryan James
    6 years ago

    I do love to compost, but the bin really is disgusting and attracts constant flies and occasional rats. Is there a better bin design that could cut down on the pests? Or perhaps a program to occasionally clean the bins? I’d clean the bin myself, but I have nowhere and no way to do that at my apartment.

  • Jeff Nowell
    6 years ago

    We have six apartments and abt 14 people using the same compost bin. Here is what works for us:
    1) Flys love soup. so it helps to put a small amount of newspaper into the bin right after collection to soak up the wet. Newspaper ink is no longer toxic so it can be composted.
    2) Flies take time to breed, like 2-3 days. We keep some compost in the apartment until a day or two before collection. Peels and leafy stuff can go downstairs. Meat and soft soupy stuff can even live in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
    3) I don’t understand how rats can get into the bin if you keep the lids closed.
    4) Dry crusty stuff doesn’t really hurt. But once a year or so you can ask for a new bin. If the lid on the compost is broken or not working you should ask for a new bin right away. Our blue recycling bin has had a broken lid for years and we don’t worry about it because we don’t put food stuff in there.

  • Getting into composting can be addicting! Starting with Bokashi and then moving on to traditional composting and vermicomposting – I think if more people were to just try it, they’d find out how awesome it is to return waste back to the earth and see it give it back in a usable, safe form!

  • Composting meat and animal products should not be allowed in compost. Although the media doesn’t talk about it, antibiotic resistant bacteria, ecoli, salmonella and other diseases are common in retail animal food1. There are many diseases carried on meat that pose a threat to workers and the public. Flies can spread the diseases from the compost bin. Chicken may carry cancer-causing viruses2, are treated with arsenic3 and antibiotics (which can get in to the finished compost made from chicken byproducts), and may harbor mad cow prions since they are fed rendered cattle remains4. I would not want to grow vegetables made from compost that included animal remains or byproducts.
    Meat and animal products are a public health hazard and should be treated like other biohazards in terms of disposal.
    1 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/16/superbugs-meat_n_3093550.html
    2 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21497401
    3http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18991934
    4http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-greger-md/mad-cow-disease-california_b_1450994.html

    • Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment.

      We accept post-consumer meat scraps in our compost. It is not usually raw food, such as uncooked chicken, or animal food such as chicken byproduct. It usually meat that’s already been cooked, and in small amounts–like chicken bones with a little bit of meat left on them.

      The high composting temperatures kill pathogens, and the microbes in it help to prevent pathogens from re-colonizing it.

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