Composting Means Less Waste
Almost two years ago, I had our second child. The adjustment wasn’t quite as hard for me because it wasn’t as new and surprising as it was the first time around. (That’s probably a different article!) And then, he grew, and it seems like before I knew it (and probably before I was ready) he was entering his toddler phase, and I found myself caring for my toddler son and my preschool-aged daughter.
Let me tell you – there are a lot of maddening things about toddlers. If you’ve had one yourself, you know. They require constant supervision to make sure they don’t break their necks. They are learning and observing the world around them and trying to see what newfound talents and tricks they can do. And the tantrums! Oh the tantrums…. But we all do the best we can, right?
There was, however, one thing that was eating me up inside as I was busy with life, working, and parenting my two littles: the amount of waste that I felt like my little family of four was generating. I felt as if going from one child to two greatly increased our output, from trash to recycling, from food waste to packaging. Now, I have been a recycler for many years. I am probably not the most diligent recycler, and I do wish Nashville had a better program, but I do try. It is a dream of mine to have a whole closet full of recycling bins in my mud room, labeled appropriately, that I can just pull out and place the correct item in. Maybe that is next on my list. But the first thing I wanted to tackle was the food waste. According to the EPA, food waste and yard scraps make up 30 percent of what we throw away, and I knew I had to correct that.
If you have children, you know how fickle they can be. They say they want a cheese stick, so you unwrap it for them, and they carry it around in their grubby little hand but never take one bite. They refuse the first two dinners you make for them. They take one bite out of an apple and hand it back to you. Some days, I feel so defeated by how little my children eat and how much food (and money) we waste. So I decided to turn to composting to try and ease my guilt and make our family’s footprint smaller.
Now, I don’t have a legit garden (though I want one of those someday, too) and I do have a small yard, so building my own compost pit was probably out of the question. So I reached out to Compost Nashville because I have a friend who uses their services and she’s told me she was happy with it. The folks over there made it pretty easy to set up my service, and as I was reading their website, I learned even more about the benefits of composting. For example, I knew that contributing to compost meant sending less to a landfill, which is obviously a good benefit in and of itself, but what I didn't know is that food waste in a landfill creates methane gas, which further depletes the ozone and contributes to global warming. Plus, compost creates nutrient-rich soil, thus eliminating the need for pesticides and other harmful chemicals that are typically sprayed on our crops.
After reading all that, I signed myself up! Compost Nashville brought me a 4 lb. bucket with a compostable liner in it, and all I have to do is fill it up with food scraps (and leftover flower stems and nail clippings and all kinds of things, actually!) and leave it out for them on my pickup day, which for me is Tuesday mornings. I knew I didn’t want this big ol’ bucket hanging out in my kitchen every day, so the first thing I did was order a small container to keep in my kitchen, allowing me to quickly and easily put food scraps in there, which could be taken out to the bucket once full. I also posted a list right by the container of all the things that can be composted, so it would be a quick and easy reference when we are in the midst of cleaning up the kitchen. I was worried it would be habit for me to dump the leftovers in the trash or the garbage disposal, but because I was so excited to start composting, it has actually been really easy for me to remember to throw the items in the kitchen bin every day.
When the day is over and my little people are in bed, I carry the small kitchen container of food waste out to the 4 lb. bucket from Compost Nashville and dump it. I keep the bucket right outside my back door, so it’s easy to transfer the items from one to the other. I can’t lie, I often times hold my breath when I do it -- the smell can get pretty fowl -- but I feel like it’s not a big deal at all. (If you’ve had a toddler you’ve smelled worse!) Finally, I wash out my little kitchen bucket every evening so it doesn’t smell, and that’s it for the day!
I will say that usually by the time Tuesday morning rolls around, my 4 lb. compost bucket is full. At first I felt bad, even about that, but I had to remind myself that it’s so much better than what I was doing, so I’m moving in the right direction. I also feel like we’ve become more conscious about what we buy and prepare, in an effort to be less wasteful. It sets a good example for my children and gives me an easy way to talk to them about the importance of taking care of our planet while we are here. I’m also looking forward to the bag of compost I get this fall from Compost Nashville and hoping to use it as the catalyst for finally starting that garden I’ve been saying I want to have!
These may be baby steps but if we all start somewhere, we can all move towards positive change and hopefully be more mindful of the decisions we make and the impact they have on our planet.