It all began when a friend asked for worm composting tips. “My daughter has driven me into action as she disapprovingly saw me dump kitchen scraps in the regular garbage – she firmly suggested that I start a compost and save the earth!” she said.
Now we had been following the practice of kitchen scrap disposal for a while. A couple of years ago, the City of Fremont had distributed small kitchen pails. These were meant to be used to collect kitchen scraps and peelings to be disposed in the green bin, which takes all kinds of compostable material. The city then carts it away to a composting center and gives all the residents free compost every spring.
The kitchen pails were not a very practical idea, though. The opening was narrow, which meant invariably there was food stuck to the lid. The garbage started stinking very soon, and it was a pain to tip it over into the green bin when full. There were so many people who gave up on the program that the city soon realized it was a colossal failure. They decided to have a contest to come up with ideas to get residents motivated to get rid of kitchen scraps and peelings appropriately.
In the meantime, my family had come up with a simple solution to the problem. We deputed one of our plastic bowls to be the receptacle and dumped all the kitchen scraps in it. At the end of the day we emptied it into the green bin. This still didn’t solve the problem of the green bin stinking but at least it was outside the house. Every once in a while, we rinse the bin out.
Along the way we realized that paper napkins were compostable and started lining the bin with a new napkin each day. Thus made the job even easier.We reduced our landfill pile to 2 bags a week and proudly wheeled out the nearly empty blue bin each Friday.
So when my friend asked for composting advice, I decided to look up the the appropriate web page of the county’s garbage disposal company. That’s when I discovered that there were some other unusual items which could also be composted, like milk and juice cartons. The rule of thumb is – if you can tear it, it will compost. Of course, your first preference for paper products would be to put them in the grey recycle bin but if they are food soiled they need to go in the green bin. And typically cartons are not marked with the triangular recycle sign, so if they do not have a foil lining, they can be composted.
Unfortunately, the soy milk cartons my family piles up have a foil lining, so I will have to search some more.
– Waxed milk cartons ( no foil-lined ones please), juice and ice-cream cartons. Remove the plastic cap first.
– Pizza boxes
– Paper egg cartons
– Coffee filters and tea bags
– Paper plates and cups( no plastic coated ones, please)
CAVEAT: Each city has a different program for milk carton disposal, so call up your local waste disposal company to make sure it is ok with them.
Picture by D’arcy Norman