Whoops! In my previous postÂ I set out to write an upbeat report of our most recentÂ accomplishmentsÂ savingÂ the planet. Seems like I lost the thread there…
We need something on the other side of the ledger!
- The average American generates 4.6 pounds of solid trash per day, for a grand total of 1,460 pounds per year, that’sÂ approximately 230 million tons of “trash”. Less than one-quarter of it is recycled; the rest is incinerated or buried in landfills. We could reuse or recycle more than 70 percent of the landfilled waste. (Learner.org)
- Americans represent roughly 5% of the world’s population, butÂ generate 40% of its waste. (US Environmental Protection Agency Factsheet)Â
- Really want the dirt on dirt? Read the “Executive Summary: Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: 2005 Facts and Figures” here.
Oh, but wait: the other side of the ledger, that’s the positive side.
Reduce-reuse-recycle and… compost
Our household (of 3). does not generate 4.6 poundsÂ of trash. We reduce-reuse-recycle all our paper, cardboard, containers (plastic, glass, cartons, cans) and plastic bags.
That leaves us with:
- plastic wrappers, styrofoam, and the like (I plan to do a Trash Audit soon),
- and, unfortunately, all that goodÂ organic, living, nutritious matter, like potato peels, egg shells, andÂ apple cores.
It breaks my heart to throw all those goodies into that plastic trash bag with all the toxic trash (if it is not even recyclabe…). From there on it goes to the incineratorÂ or the landfill. In both cases these valuable nutritients areÂ lost. In the landfill, mixed up with the plastics (and the diapers, etc.), it can take years to decades to decompose. Even then it doesn’t “return to the earth”, or at least to any kind of earthÂ healthy enough to benefit from it.
If we put it into a composter, it will decompose in a few weeks to a few months. Then we can use it as fertilizer in our condo building’s little courtyard garden.
That’sÂ the plan. I’m entering our request for the composting bin today, and am putting together a little pamphlet for the residents of our condo who have reservations about smell, flies and rodents.
The other side of the ledger
It’s tough to tell, and I haven’t found much helpful information on the net, but it seems that, if you put a pound of kitchen scraps (80% of which is water) into the composter, you get about a quarter of compost. Is that right?
Let me do some weighing and calculating, and I’ll present you with the positive side of the ledger in a few months.