Composting: The Doorway to Low-Waste Living

Have you been privileged to know someone who starts composting for the first time?  Whether they are making their own pile, giving organics to a neighbor or joining a pick-up service – it’s like watching a flower bloom.   First they are all worried about what kind of bin to use, what can and can’t go in the bin, if it’s going to stink, where they should keep it . . .   Then when the day-to-day logistics become more routine they start to wonder where all this waste went before.  They can’t believe they were sending so much wonderful organic matter to the landfill. Then they start to look at what they are still sending to the landfill.  They think . . . Could some of this have been recycled instead? In fact – why did those tomatoes have to come in a plastic box to start with??  Why did I bring my left-overs home in styrofoam?  That’s going to be in the landfill forever!!  How many toothbrushes have I thrown away in my life time? AAAAAhhhhhh.  Next thing you know they own stainless steel straws and beeswax food wraps and they have a box to put batteries in when they die cause those have to be disposed of properly for heaven’s sake!!!

So this is my point . . . Composting is the doorway to low-waste living (we don’t want to say it’s the “gateway drug” but composting can be very addictive!).  It makes us think about everything we put in the trash can – not just our organics.  It makes us think about not buying things that have to be trashed in the first place. . what are the alternatives?  Can we avoid it all together? The picture associated with this blog came from one of our wonderful CompostHaste customers who no longer calls her kitchen trash by the same name. Their whole family now calls it the “landfill” can.  This is why our mission at CompostHaste is to ethically, joyfully and responsibly advocate for waste reduction and composting.  We think this can change the world.

In our upcoming blogs we will discuss composting in more detail.  How you can do it on your own, what are the ways you can try and which one is best for you.  We will also discuss easy ways to reduce waste in your life in general.  These are just talking points . . you will think of many more on your own.  Email us your thoughts if you have a moment.

What’s So Great About Composting?

We are crazy passionate about composting (and maybe just a little crazy in general).  In our previous blog posts we discussed the major and unsustainable problems that landfills (and the items that fill them) pose to the environment.  Obviously we love composting because it keeps a huge amount of waste from going to landfills and becoming toxic run-off, greenhouse gases, or literally “filling” our earth with garbage.  But there are a multitude of additional reasons to love the beautiful rot that makes up a compost pile! 

We can probably all remember learning in elementary school about the natural nutrient cycle – how plants grow nourished by the “building blocks” of life.  Then animals eat the plants, larger animals eat the smaller ones, and eventually when all life dies – it returns to the soil to start again.  But in our modern, industrialized life-styles we have interrupted this cycle violently.  When we bag our food scraps in plastic, we lock those building blocks away from the earth. When trees drop leaves full of vital nutrients to return to the earth – we bag the leaves and send them to the landfill.  We cover the earth with buildings and concrete – causing rain and nutrient run-off to sewers and eventually to the ocean. Traditional farming aimed at high-yield results involves planting, harvesting, and replanting without returning the products to the earth. This cycle creates dead soil and the need for artificial fertilization. Modern farming is re-examining this practice and driving change for the better – but you get the idea!

But when we compost instead of bag our organic waste – we mimic what nature perfected eons ago.  We bring carbons sources (leaves, cut grass, dead plants, wood chips) together with nitrogen sources (food scraps, chicken poop) and allow them to rot in the presence of air, water, and microbes.  This process creates an unbelievably rich product that can be mixed into existing soil to return needed nutrients, retain more water, and nourish the next growing generation.  Zoom in on the picture at the top of this post,  This is the nutrient analysis of our completed compost (performed by Texas A&M).  Think what even a little of this could do when added to a poor soil.

So if you look out your window in the night and see some weirdo stealing the bagged leaves off your curb this fall – remember that I told you we were crazy!!  Check out our leaf cage!  No landfill for these babies!!

What In The World Possessed Us?

I would love to share a little about how all of this got started!! About 2 years ago a friend of mine expressed how jealous she was that I was able to compost all my kitchen scraps and have so little left to go to the landfill.  I told her I didn’t mind composting her scraps as well if she wanted me to swing by and pick them up.  One “swing by” became 2 – then a weekly event – then other neighbors joined and soon it was a small community.  We started experimenting with different collection methods, what day of the week was best, how to not get our precious “scraps” taken by the municipal trash service, etc.  I began to wonder why we didn’t have curb-side pick-up, but the city of Dallas said it just wasn’t financially feasible for Dallas yet. I researched how other cities were doing this and learned that there are many dozens of private companies providing this service for their local areas where cities were not.  So CompostHaste was born for Dallas!! (please forgive the terrible pun with the name.  When you tell your significant other that you have decided to open a composting business the least you can do is let him chose the name.  He’s a geek).

It is truly my hope that our customers feel like they are in a community of silent warriors – making small choices everyday that will change the attitudes of those who are watching the example. We can reduce the landfill, influence the community and change the future of the Dallas waste stream.  But most importantly we can change the future of the world by being an example for our children! I have been overwhelmed by the response I have gotten from kids – their passion and their willingness.  The same friend I mentioned above told me that the best thing about having CompostHaste bins in her home is that her children will not remember a time that they put food waste in a trash can.  Imagine that world friends!!  Join us.