So, last week we looked at the large amount of items one can recycle. This week we’re looking at reducing the amount you throw away even further, either using the green bin/can (again, Sunset Waste customers, this means you) or composting at home.
So what goes into the green bin? Branches, bushes, cactus, flower trimmings, leaves, potting soil, tree trimmings, cork, untreated, unpainted and unstained wood and fruit and vegetable trimmings. The materials are then taken to Tulare County compost and Biomass Inc. Sol Nunez, of Sunset Waste said residents should not throw plastic bags or flower pots into the bin.
So what about food waste? In larger cities like Visalia, food waste composting is the norm. Sol said Sunset will introduce a food waste program in Woodlake this year where residents will be able to throw everything from eggshells to pizza boxes into their green bin. But even if your city doesn’t have a formal program, you can compost most food waste and paper waste on your own and in-turn reap the many rewards of homemade compost.
While I will address composting in depth in future columns, I wanted to lightly touch on the subject. Composting is the simple art of balancing green waste and brown waste like shredded paper, leaves, paper grocery bags, this newspaper, etc. Nature then gradually breaks these materials down with the help of heat and moisture, into rich soil, also known as “black gold” to gardeners.
So what food waste can you add to your compost bin or worm bin (if you have composting worms)? Goodness, this list could go on and on. How about this, I’ll say what you shouldn’t throw in there and you can assume most other food waste is fine. Sound good? Okay, leave out meat, bones, dairy products, cooking oils, all pooh (cat, dog, Aunt Martha’s, etc), and rice. It’s best to leave out too many grains or acidic foods as well. For brown waste, leave out glossy or colored paper (recycle these instead).
You can either buy a counter top composting pail, use a bin and biodegradable bags, or simply cut some slits in a large coffee can lid and reuse the coffee can. Our ghetto composting pail (a coffee can) sits underneath our sink waiting for everything from coffee grounds to vegetables remnants. Once the can is full we march it out to the garage where the materials are added to our worm bin. If you’re interested in composting via large pile or bin outside there are plenty of choices from fancy bins to simply using leftover wood pallets. Use what works best for you.
You can learn more about composting via web or from books like “Let It Rot: The Gardener’s Guide to Composting” by Stu Campbell or “Worms Eat My Garbage” by Mary Appelhof and Mary F. Fenton (both are good reads).
Before too long, you’ll have plenty of homemade compost for your garden, all using everyday “waste.”