Why composting goes hand in hand with recycling

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 A couple of years ago, when I first joined the Energy Advisory Group, one of the other volunteers  suggested that we promote composting along with other initiatives like curbside recycling with unit based pricing, electric/water conservation  and the weatherization program.  My response at that time was – OMG, that’s way over the top --- only the most dedicated “tree huggers” would ever do THAT!  And, anyway, I thought to myself, “I don’t have a garden and I hate yard work, why would I compost?”

But, recently I read a book called Let It Rot! by Stu Campbell (Storey Publishing, LLC, 1998) and the 2nd Chapter (titled “Why Compost?”) helped me better understand why even a non-gardener and less dedicated “tree hugger” might become a composting convert.  Here’s the argument that convinced me to give it a try.

• Many of our landfills are full or filling up and are becoming more costly (economically and environmentally) to maintain. Some already ban yard trimmings. Clearly, something needs to be done to reduce what we put into the landfills.

• Recycling is a major first step in decreasing what we send to the landfill. Since the initiation of curbside recycling and local yard waste composting in Cedar Key there has been a 25% decrease in the amount of waste sent to the landfill from our small island. However, it is estimated that of the remaining stuff in your trash about a third could be composted along with your yard waste, further reducing the amount hauled off Island to landfills.

• So, even if you don’t plan to use your composted material to improve your soil quality or add nutrients to your vegetable garden, you can further reduce the amount of waste sent to the landfill by composting.  

The book goes on to tell you more than you ever wanted to know about composting, but the bottom line is without too much investment or time, you can use one of a wide-variety of methods to start composting. It tells you some “dos and don’ts” to minimize odor, various ways to encourage rapid decomposition and deter the interest of “varmints.”  I’m sure there are many other books that I could read but as Tom told me in the beginning “it’s not rocket science and it pretty much takes care of itself.”  So, I’m giving it a try!

By Bev Ringenberg

This column is a project of Cedar Key’s Energy Advisory Panel, which welcomes first-person accounts of how individuals are conserving (or, even, aspiring to conserve) our community's natural resources. Your submission may be made via email to eileenlbowers@yahoo.com. Please include your full name and your phone number.