Composting, Recycling and Reusing: It's not Just a Kitchen Activity

by Cody Farmer

We’re all trying to reduce our waste – we try to use fewer plastics, recycle our cans and bottles, and reuse items that can be repurposed. You might even compost your veggie leftovers from your kitchen. We often focus all these good behaviors on the kitchen alone, but did you know that all of these can be whole-home action items?  As I write this the world is witnessing Greta Thunberg’s ‘this could only be fantasy’ moment.  Certainly becoming one again with the earth can happen as early as the kitchen compost.

 

Get the Most out of Your Compost:

Why do we compost? Isn’t it enough to do it because we want to lessen our load on landfills? Sure! But why not make our composting work for our immediate benefit, too? If you have any indoor potted herbs or houseplants, they would greatly benefit from a little compost added to the soil. If you have an outdoor flower bed or garden, you can give them a health boost with compost, as well.

There are some very simple dos and don’ts of composting: Do add browns (sticks and leaves), greens (veggie waste, coffee grounds, tea bags, grass clippings), and water. The browns add carbon, the greens add nitrogen, and a little bit of water helps it all break down. Don’t add any animal products or byproducts. Notice that the short list of greens and browns above includes kitchen scraps AND yard maintenance scraps. The full list also includes items from every room in the house: pet hair from your pet’s sleeping area, waste paper from the office, lint from the dryer, sawdust from the workshop/garage, cotton and wool scraps from your bathroom and bedroom, and fireplace ashes from your living room. Composting really is a whole-home activity! You can keep your compost heap outdoors in a shady place or indoors in a composting bin (which you can buy from your local hardware store). So, the next time we go to throw something away, we should be asking “Can I compost this, instead?”

Recycle even if China stopped buying it.

Maybe think of it as pre-sorting. Our bottles, cans, and other items are begging to be given a second chance even if it isn’t right away! It will be much easier for the robots to separate sorted items then it will be the conglomerate of trash. It's that simple.  Think of all the boxes from Amazon that get thrown away. Everything is in a package and our landfills have too much mixed together to be usable. How foolish we are to just watch it pile up as we buy, buy, buy and throw away...

Remember in the Cat and The Hat Comes Back and he can’t get rid of the stain? How about the Lorax?  As humans there are just some things we’ve evolved to do that will never be in harmony with nature. A landfill is a bank account of stuff. They are designed to contain and dry out and not erode and break down.

Use this instead, because reuse just extends bad demand:

What did we use when we didn’t have plastic bags for our sandwiches? What did we use to freeze our foods in before plastic? Do we really need straws?? They were only designed to forgo lipstick on glass cups.

Why do I notice subway employees throw away their gloves nearly after each sandwich? Why are restaurants allowed to use disposable anything??

There is a huge landfill by DIA you can see it from the glass hotel and also one by the center of Erie CO and I’ve watched them filling up over the last 20 years and it’s hard to think about what will happen after it’s actually full. Because from any view we all know, it’s a mountain of trash in the middle of flatlands.

Equally, I wonder what happens to the spaces below the earth once we remove the gas and oil from them? Do they naturally fill up with water or stay arid?  Does this cause earthquakes?  

Today is a perfect day to share this blog as it was nearly 30 years ago when I was 12 years old and I was given a class assignment to report on a current event. Being the nature-loving farm boy I was, I focused on the environment and the Valdez oil spill. When you’re a child-like Greta, you see things that don’t make sense like making something out of plastic that only gets used once and then thrown away.

Because so many of the items thrown away are raw materials. Our waste breaks down into only a few streams. 1. Paper, Plastic, Metal, Glass 2. Animal Proteins/Fats 3. Plant waste 4. Electronic Waste 5. Hazardous Waste.  So it’s a bit puzzling why we haven’t evolved a little more on the subject.

So many uses for so much of our waste!  Save the World! And don’t forget: If you’re interested in more ways to be kind to the environment and save money, you can check out how we can apply passive house principles to your current home, or upload your plan sets for a new home so that you can reduce your energy bills to nearly nothing per month! We provide passive house services for Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, and provide passive house consultation for anywhere in the US. We exist for the sole purpose of helping you breathe clean and easy, live comfortably, and save money!