Thursday, October 11, 2007

Day Ninety-Five - Post-Compost Post

Making Changes To What I Compost

Do you remember that happy day last month when my Garden Gourmet Compost Unit arrived? I have been happily keeping a bucket o' scraps under my kitchen sink and filling it with coffee grounds, biodegradable straws, apple cores, and any other organic matter that we generate. The problem is, I haven't been as diligent as I should be and I've been sending a lot of stuff down the garbage disposal, assuming that it was a relatively benign thing to do.

But I stumbled across some interesting research that showed that using my garbage disposal is only marginally better than tossing food scraps in the trash. Egads! Here I thought I was so eco-conscious by putting organic matter down the drain and it turns out, eh, it's not really a big improvement.

The reason for this is that garbage disposals use high volumes of water, at the sink and at the sewage treatment plant. Sewage with a high organic content also has a higher Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), a measurement that gauges how many chemicals are needed to clean the sewage before it is expelled from the plant into free-running bodies of water.

So I have learned that being lazy about my food scraps gobbles up copious amounts of precious water resources AND adds more chemicals to our water system in the name of "clean" water. I simply cannot have that on my conscience. From here on out I will become a scrap Nazi. Here's the order for food disposal: People, Dog, Compost, Over the Fence (what the hell, if I can do it with 10 pounds of dog crap each week, I'm sure an occasional chicken bone won't be noticed), Disposal. That's right -- disposal is now the absolute last resort for food scraps and I have decided to never again toss food scraps into the landfill. Dammit.


I would guess that I send about 1.5 cups worth of organic waste down the drain per day. Over the course of a year, that adds up to 547 cups of food waste that has to be treated with chemicals and diluted with more water.

Geez, I wonder if that would feed a starving family somewhere. I bet it would. Good grief, are we a wasteful society or what? Maybe I should concentrate more on reducing that waste. Well, one change a day... maybe that can be tomorrow's challenge.

Difficulty Level: 4 out of 5

Yes, folks, I truly am a Lazy American. The added burden of properly picking up and disposing of bloated goldfish crackers and unwanted french fries earns itself a 4 on my difficulty scale. And yet, I pay money to belong to a gym where I can go specifically to NOT be lazy. Sometimes, even I don't understand me.

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