Monday, June 16, 2008

well, it's about time

it's gotta start somewhere

It's not much to look at, that half-shadowy lump of fresh grass clippings. You'll have to fast forward in your imagination several months or so to see the rich organic matter of backyard home compost. It's taken us a long, old time to get our composting arses in line, if you will, despite a generous supply of those cloying and infamous "best intentions" everybody's always talking about (one of the few things I always seem have too many of: dust bunnies in the corners, pounds around my middle, best intentions).

Coincidentally, the same day we were finalizing our future compost spot, I had listened (on the trusty ipod while nursing the boy down for a nap) to a recent episode of the Alternative Kitchen Garden about the very thing. I always enjoy listening to Emma in the UK describe her gardening endeavors and accomplishments and insights and the composting episode was no exception. I was particularly glad to hear her list minimizing one's carbon footprint among reasons for home composting.

I have a hard time uttering the phrase "carbon footprint" without having something like a very small gaggy reflex. I think it's high time the masses envelope simplicity. I am very concerned about the state of our world, the future of our children, our obscene reliance on fossil fuels. Absolutely, all of it. But I'm disgruntled to see the Obvious and Necessary becoming the next trendy marketing scheme. Environmentalism shouldn't be trendy, it should be the default standard. And it shouldn't primarily encourage or require the purchase and acquisition of More Stuff.

I think they call that Defeating The Purpose.

Let me chase a rabbit for a minute [when I was a child, sitting in church with my family, our pastor used the phrase "chasing a rabbit" to mean following a tangent for a spell, and I don't know, maybe that's a common phrase and maybe other people say it, too, but it always takes me back to that storefront baptist church, drawing pictures on the backs of bulletins]. . . My only vehicle is an SUV. A 95 Range Rover. An apparent object of scorn from so many hybrid drivers. Every single time I drive into the big city now, I get the stink eye from any number of people and I am convinced my car is the reason. The truth is this: my car goes fewer miles per gallon than your shiny Prius does. But a gallon is a gallon. Don't assume that my fuel-guzzling beast is on the road every day: it's not. My other car is a pair of beat up converse and my husband commutes to his (rural, fourteen miles away) office often by bike. Could I sell my thirteen year old car for something else? Sure. And then what? What becomes of my mostly parked monster? Is it purchased by someone who starts driving it daily? And what do I buy to replace it? Because that Hybrid you (oh general you) are so smug about? Was not fashioned out of twigs and compost by some clever, modern ecofairy. The production of new cars does not have a negligible impact. No, I believe that society's More More More dogma is what got us into this mess in the first place. Making more stuff -even if that stuff is Environmentally Friendly! Green! Organic! Sustainable!- is still Making More Stuff. Stop the EcoGreen Insanity! (my apologies to Susan Powter and her early nineties appearances on late night television)

I have a front loading, high efficiency washing machine. When we bought our house, we needed some appliances. We made the decision to spend a little more for the machine that promises to use a little less. I support having such a choice as a consumer. The problem is, there are too many choices and too many consumers! Production isn't filling a basic need, it's catapulting sales of a whole new product bracket. How about we Buy Less Stuff? Because I'm pretty much convinced that the production and the packaging and the transportation of all this STUFF isn't saving the planet any.

So, in not so many rambley words, that's basically what Emma said about making your own compost. As in, compost is great! But buying compost only makes your carbon footprint all that much bigger. And when that phrasing isn't used as a marketing gimmick, when someone isn't insulting the size of my own carbon footprint so I'm compelled, in a fit of ecoguilt, to replace all my clothes with a new wardrobe of organic yoga attire? I can get behind it and say it again. Reduce your carbon footprint by doing it yourself. Whatever "it" might be. Make do with what you've got, see what you've got that might make something else you need.

And make secondhand stores (or rummage sales or craigslist or freecycle) your first stop for "new" stuff.

A few weeks ago, I picked up a funny, holey-lidded, enamel pot at the goodwill for two dollars. It was in good shape, whatever it was. Some peculiar old coffee percolator perhaps? I admit to being charmed by funny old things. I thought I might drill a few holes in it, use it for flowers or herbs on my front steps.

On Saturday, it hit me! I was standing outside, complimenting the husband on his readying of Compost Pile site, thinking of how glad I am to finally have a place to properly dispose of my kitchen waste when I realized that the funny old pot I didn't know what to do with is only the best food scrap bucket EVER! Time will tell if its functionality is as grand as I assume, but right now, it sure seems to be the right tool for the job:

food scrap container

It's a perfect fit in the cupboard to the very left of the kitchen sink, the one with the original built-in towel drying rods inside (they telescope for easy reach!). I have only taken one trip to the pile (visualize a grassy heap with a little plop of scraps atop), but I look forward to this arrangement serving me (and my garden and my world) well for a long time.


Lisa said...

I love, love this post for so many reasons. We are faced with a similar dilemma with our gas guzzler.

Blogging Molly said...

you speak my mind yet again.

my hubby commutes 14 miles to work on his bike also.

cheers to you for composting.
jeers to those that market green.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

Muppet said...

I love your scrap bucket! Much nicer than the plastic bucket I have to do the same job.