Composting Part 3 — Lessons Learned

Now that I had my first batch of compost under my belt, I was ready to continue. The second compost bin model seemed to be working out so I purchased another one and started a new batch.

My family had heard about my trials and triumphs ad nauseam and my mother agreed the birthday money was well spent as I certainly had enjoyed composting.

China Plate with Fresh Fruit and VegetablesAlong the way, some of the things I thought would occur did and there were some unexpected benefits. As expected, the volume of stuff put down the garbage disposal or thrown in the garbage was substantially reduced. An unexpected benefit was that we paid more attention to the produce we bought and tried to purchase only what we felt confident we could eat before it spoiled. So these days the compost pail is filled mostly with scraps and very little spoiled whole fruits or vegetables.

I did learn some things along the way that may or may not be useful for others:

  • The little scanner labels put on produce are sometimes made of plastic and they don’t compost so remove them (I had to pick them out of my completed compost the first time).
  • There are many types of compost bins from an open wooden bin to enclosed plastic units. Select one suitable for your environment.
  • Buying equipment may not be necessary, but if you buy equipment, buy quality so it will last.
  • Compost Bin Open Lid HolderBe creative in adapting equipment to meet your needs. For example, the ground beneath one of my compost bins is not perfectly level and sometimes the lid would accidentally shut while I was aerating or digging around so my very handy spouse rigged up a wire to keep the lid open.
  • It may take several weeks to get used to putting material in the compost pail instead of the garbage disposal or trash.
  • Although there are many excellent sources with guidelines on how to compost successfully, everything will rot eventually, so don’t sweat it if your method is different than what others do.
  • Composting requires commitment: collecting scraps, emptying the compost pail, stirring and watering the compost, digging it out and moving it to a place to use.

I wouldn’t exactly say I’m an expert composter. I still don’t like creepy crawlies or hiking up the hill with the compost pail in the rain but I do it. I’m proof that even squeamish people can compost (although with a bit more equipment and protection than most). Composting can be very rewarding. Reducing waste, water, and energy, nurturing your garden (or someone else’s), learning new things, and feeling a sense of accomplishment for taking positive action.

I’m convinced that if I can compost, anyone can. It can be on a large or small scale. There are many different types of equipment and methods. People who live in apartments or in very cold weather may have more challenges but there are solutions to almost every obstacle. I got past mine and now composting is just part of our regular routine.

That reminds me I think there is a banana in the kitchen I need to go eat before it becomes food for the composter.

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Author: Linda Poppenheimer

Linda researches and writes about environmental topics to share information, spark conversation, and convince people to take action to keep earth habitable for all. She believes our individual actions do matter—it all adds up.

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