Yes Virginia, It’s Yucky: Compost Management for Neat Freaks
My inner tree hugger is completely at war with my inner neat freak when it comes to composting.
Not only have I composted at home for a few years, but I have also been taking home the compost from work. This means that I have 4 bins to manage:
- The mini bin in my kitchen (thank you, City of Ottawa)
- The mini bin I use to truck compost home from work
- The large green bin that goes to the curb every week (again, thanks CoO)
- The large bin in the common area of our condo, which is frequently full of all kinds of garbage, including bags of dog poop, and once, a pair of sunglasses.
Over the years I’ve developed a few habits that you might find useful. Of course, those of you with stronger stomachs may not worry about it so much. But what if you’re the kind of person who likes things tidy and clean?
In a nutshell, it’s all about controlling moisture.
Kitchen Mini Compost Bin Management
- If you don’t watch it, kitchen bins can easily become sewage-like when peelings and leaves are left for too long. To control moisture, try leaving tea leaves and other really wet items on a plate to dry out before you put them in the bin.
- I spend the money on the brown liner bags, because I don’t get a newspaper. Any kind of liner absorbs moisture, and makes the bin easier to empty.
- Any meat bones or scraps are left in the freezer until it’s garbage day. This will also help avoid attracting raccoons.
- I completely scrub the thing out every week, allow to dry, and then I line the bottom with a 1-inch layer of baking soda. Again, it’s all about reducing moisture.
Making sure a week’s worth of coffee grounds, tea bags and banana peels from the office don’t end up in the landfill is part of my personal offset for driving a car. If you choose to do this, make sure your bin can be shut tight so it doesn’t spill! The last thing you want is the contents of Jabba the Hutt’s intestines all over the inside of the car on a hot day when you have errands to do.
I have learned from bitter experience that the paper liner has not been made that can withstand a week’s worth of wet coffee grounds. All you can do is put a couple of inches of baking soda at the bottom, and get the clean-out done first thing on Friday night. A good scrub in hot water and soap usually does the trick.
- Again, if you’re willing to spend the money, a liner bag helps (I go with the sturdier cellulose-lined ones for the curbside bin).
- Keep the entire bin out of the rain.
- If your bin has to stay outside, make sure it’s always shut tight.
- If water does get inside, allow to dry before using.
Home Composting Bins
If you manage a public-access compost bin, the only thing you can do is make sure a sign clearly explains what can and cannot be composted, and then rely on a sense of humour when it is completely ignored!
by Jennifer Priest
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