Sunday, January 19, 2014

Weird Composting

I compost as warfare. The battle is against climate change and landfills and big business that promises to solve all of our problems if we just open our wallets. Our consumptive society buys with abandon and then throws "away". Composting fights this mindset and creates a new one.

I compost because it's free. I don't have to work at my job to earn the money for fertilizer in my garden (and the work of composting is actually meditative and pleasant). I don't have to throw away organic matter. I don't have to run the trash down to the curb every week (I take it down once a month, and even then it's not full).  I am not contributing to the landfills as much as I would be otherwise. I am building the organic matter in my soil instead of just taking from it. I am connected to my soil and my compost bin. I think about what I am disposing of instead of mindlessly filling the garbage tin. I think about every item that is thrown away, and as a result I become horrified by how much packaging stuff comes in. Even though I can't compost plastic, thinking about the plastic that has to be recycled makes me want to buy fewer things or opt to buy from a thrift store and remember to carry a tote bag just so I don't have so much plastic! When I have to look at food that goes bad before I eat it, I am more mindful to not waste food.

Everyone knows you can compost kitchen scraps and leaves. There are so many more things that can go into the compost bin. It may not make for perfectly balanced compost, but the way I see it, if I have organic matter at my disposal, it should go into my soil, not into a landfill. Here's a list of some of the weird things I've started putting into my compost.

* Toilet paper tubes. I just cut them up a bit.
* Newspaper. Shredded, it is the perfect "brown" for winter when I have a shortage of leaves and dried grass.
* Coffee grounds and filters.
* Tea and tea bags.
* Paper grocery bags, shredded.
* Coffee cups, cut up. Some coffee cup lids are compostable.(I almost always have my reusable mug, but every now and then I forget it).
* Grocery lists, recipes that I jot down, torn up.
* Cardboard egg cartons. I purposely opt for cardboard over styrofoam for just this reason.
* Dryer lint.
* Dustpan contents. After I sweep the floors, I dump the contents into the compost (exception: when I've broken glass). Dust is just a hodgepodge of human skin/hair, pet dander/hair, dirt, pebbles, dead insects, food particles, etc.
* Pet hair.
* Hair trimmings (Occupational benefit if you're a hair dresser?).
* Yarn trimmings, cotton or wool. I use larger pieces of yarn for making scrapghans, but for pieces under 6 inches, they go into the compost bin.
* Old washclothes/dish towels that are too ragged for the rag bin.
* Paper towels/napkins or kleenex. Eventually I will be 100% paper free (as it is I only buy a roll of paper towels about 2-3 times a year), but til then, it goes into the compost.
* All kitchen wastes other than meat or grease. Bones that are soft after making a couple batches of stock go into the compost. Bones can also be buried deep into the garden bed to decompose without fear of animals digging them up. Egg shells are awesome for tomatoes.
* Finger/toenail clippings.
* Dead floral arrangements and dead leaves from houseplants.
* Junk mail, shredded.
* Old financial papers that no longer need to be saved. Cut or tear these into small pieces and use as a brown in your compost. The added bonus is that would-be identity thieves aren't going to look in your compost bin.
* Pizza boxes, cut up.
* Cardboard Q-tips, cotton balls.
* Wine corks.
* Stale herbs/spices
* Moldy bread, on the rare occasion it molds before I dry it for bread crumbs.
* sales flyers
* Neighbor's yard waste. (Only if they aren't sprayers)
* Ragged cotton or wool clothing. Socks, underwear, t-shirts, etc. Remove any metal or elastic from the clothes and cut it up as fine as you feel like.

What weird things do you compost?

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  1. Wow that's alot of different stuff, I would think things like wash clothes would take a long time to break down. Followed you here from the Heritage Homesteaders Hop.

  2. To speed up the decomposition of things like washcloths, clothes, etc, shred them, or at least cut them into smaller pieces. The smaller the better.

    Even if it takes awhile for them to break down, I like to put any organic matter I can into my garden beds instead of landfills.

  3. Quite an assortment of stuff, which is good. I attended a seminar about composting and the expert said he finds as many different kinds of vegetation to put in because of all the different minerals they contain. We raise sheep, goats, chickens and rabbits. Sometimes an animal dies. Into the compost heap it goes. The larger animals need to be covered with layers of straw. Done properly, there is no odor and they decompose quickly. Much easier than digging a deep hole.


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