Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day 234: Composting for Dummies (and I'm a Big Dummy)

I'm not sure why, but apparently I was experiencing some environmental guilt, because I kept going back to my conversation with Melanie on Earth Day and remembering things she suggested I do to help the planet.

First, on Day 232 with picking up trash, and then again on Day 234, when the thing I've never done before was to start a compost pile.

Composting, for those of you who don't know (I didn't), is the decomposition of plant remains and other once-living materials to make fertilizer. It's like recycling but for fruits and vegetables.
At first I was against the idea, seeing as how I have no yard of my own, and no garden in need of good soil. Any composting I might do in my own home would have to go somewhere else. In this scenario my own home equals my tiny apartment; somewhere else equals Melanie and Randy's already impressive compost pile, though at the end of this project somwhere else could've equaled anywhere but my tiny apartment.

I contacted Melanie to tell her what I was doing, confident that she would give me the proper guidance on how to successfully compost.

"What can I compost?" I asked her.

"Fruit rinds, coffee grounds, egg shells," she responded. "But no bread."

When I consulted the Internet (which answers all of my questions about things I don't know), a website about composting simply said no animal fat or bones and no human or animal feces. Sounds easy enough.

So on Day 234, I started gathering all of Melanie's suggested items into a plastic grocery bag. Banana peels, orange peels, strawberry stems, all of them went into the bag. Days went by and thanks to still finishing off some produce from my raw diet, I had a nice compost pile going, ready to take to Melanie and Randy's house.

Only then I left town forgetting to dump it. And when I got back, Melanie and Randy left town, so instead of contributing to their already established compost pile, I instead ended up with a bag full of smelly rotten food.

In case there was any doubt, let me be the one to tell you, makeshift composting in plastic grocery bags does not a good smell make.

I wasn't ready to give up, so I tried to pawn the trash off on someone else. When Bug climbed into my car, that now smelled like a landfill, I asked her if she had a compost pile where I could dispose my bag of goodies. She did not.

I held on to the bag with the hope that one of my green friends would step forward ready to add my compost to their own. But no such luck. Are there places that accept random apartment dweller's compost? If there are, I couldn't find them.

My compost bag smelled up my kitchen, then my car, then my landlords' trash can, where it eventually ended up after I couldn't find a way to dispose of it properly.

That's right, I started a compost pile that eventually ended up in the trash. I'm a composting failure.

In honor of writing this post so many days after the fact, I am going to restart a compost bag, and this time for real I will take it to Melanie and Randy's and then I'll write about it actually dumping the nasty thing, but not as the thing that I've never done before since technically that would be cheating.

I owe it to myself, to the blog, and to Mother Earth to see this one all the way through.


  1. I want to start a compost pile at our house - but that won't really be in full swing until after you turn 30. So yeah, I guess this comment is to tell you that I cannot help.

  2. Well, lucky for you I still plan on doing new things after I turn 30, I just might not write about them. And I've helped people move plenty of times, so don't worry about asking me to participate in that. But we'll compost our little hearts out. Congrats homeowner!

  3. There's a compost drop off at Dekalb Farmer's Market, which is definitely a place you should go if you've never been.