Friday, January 8, 2016

Misadventures in Going Green: Composting.

Like a lot of Pagans, limiting my impact on the environment is important to me. It kind of comes part and parcel with the nature veneration thing-- you try your best to avoid donking it all up by making conscientious choices. What those choices are varies from person to person: foregoing factory-farmed meat, eating organic, eating local, supporting green industries, growing their own food and herbs, and so on. Naturally, once I managed to move out of an apartment and into a house with an actual yard, I was stoked about the possibility of being able to grow my own things. As part of my attempts to live sustainably, I wanted composting to be part of that.

How hard could it be? You start with food scraps, yard waste, maybe some paper or cardboard, make sure it stays moist and aerated, and compost happens. It's the circle of life (or close enough).

So, I got a container, drilled holes in it for aeration, put it in a spot in the yard where there'd be enough room to keep it turned regularly, and went to town filling it up.

[caption id="attachment_1963" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Bam. Bam.[/caption]

As it turns out, I greatly underestimated the amount of compostable food scraps a household of three people can produce. Even when one of them is a gamer dudebro who subsists entirely on Mountain Dew and takeout, that's a lot of vegetable scraps. Like, a lot-lot.
I also greatly underestimated the amount of poo that a 10 pound rabbit can produce in a week. Between bunny turds, used bedding, and food scraps, the bucket was full to bursting in a fortnight.

Still! No worries. I'd keep it turned, eventually it'd become compost, and it was still better than sending all of that stuff to a landfill where it'd only putrefy to begin with. So, I turned that bucket religiously. Every other day I tumbled it, made sure the contents weren't drying out, and crossed my fingers hoping for some baby dirt.

[caption id="attachment_1964" align="aligncenter" width="300"]"Dude, I put my extra cheese and nasty hard tortillas in an area. They get all rotty. A fly has a baby. Dirt is born. Share this moment with me." -- Raymond Q. Smuckles "Dude, I put my extra cheese and nasty hard tortillas in an area. They get all rotty. A fly has a baby. Dirt is born. Share this moment with me."   -- Raymond Q. Smuckles[/caption]

As it turns out, it's markedly difficult to separate baby dirt from banana peels and moldering bunny doots. My reused cat litter bucket didn't have a trap or extra door of any kind, so opening it up to obtain the precious soil nutrients inside was going to be a bit of an endeavor.

When I caught my then-boyfriend's dog eating out of the bucket, I realized it was an endeavor I was not going to undertake. She was fine afterward and I didn't find her behavior particularly alarming; this was the same animal who, left unsupervised for several minutes, had also managed to eat a quarter pound of Miracle-Gro, a live cactus, most of a bottle of lithium, and nearly the entire contents of a cat litter box. So I separated out what compost I could find, spread it around some of the trees in the yard, and scrapped the rest (bucket included).
It'd be several years (and yards) before I attempted to compost again... But that's another story.

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