Where do I put it? Large-scale composting options

Published 6:00pm Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Laura Williams, Vaughn Loeffler, Joyce Hicks, Linda Byington and I attended a weeklong course teaching us about small and large scale composting.
Personally, I have minimal interest in backyard composting because I live in the country with chickens eager to deal with kitchen scraps, a manure spreader to take care of manure and plenty of open spaces to deal with yard debris.
In short, our lifestyle is similar to that of country folk 40 years ago.
Now we have transportation to enable us to take our inorganic waste to the dump rather than put them in the trash pit over the hill, as the residents did before us.
You probably have a judgment about that practice, putting garbage in the pit out back, but you must remember that most of us do the best we can with the resources available to us.
The Bishop family that lived here before us had very little inorganic trash or plastic to deal with; consequently the garbage pit is small. All that is left now is some broken glass that makes its way to the surface every year, for us to pick out and throw away.
Where do I take it?
To another pit, a bigger one further away from where we live, one that is out of sight. Most folks no longer separate inorganic wastes from organic wastes; it all goes together in a pit somewhere else… out of sight…out of mind. The Bishops were at least responsible for their own waste; they kept it at home.
I’m interested in large-scale composting because it addresses problems created by huge amounts of organic waste generated by schools, restaurants, food processing facilities, etc. Modern society has designed a system that releases individuals from their waste problem by removing it, for a fee.
The hidden truth is that non-organic waste per person has quadrupled in the past 40 years thanks to plastics, packaging and disposables, and we no longer even know the difference between organic and inorganic wastes. The whole process is set up to make everything easier for the consumer, for a fee. And we love it.
Now my mother, God bless her, has been known to tell me how trashy people are who throw their trash over the side of the hill. I believe that her perspective was a bit limited since she lived in town where a helpful garbage truck came every week to her house. But my mother would not even consider putting food waste in the trashcan, because food waste is organic, and organic waste is simply organic matter in the wrong place.
Organic matter belongs with other organic matter, in the garden or the yard or the woods. If rabbits found the leftover lettuce, so much the better. The idea that what comes from the earth should return to the earth was as plain to her as night and day. It required no thought; it just was. It just is.
Many things that my mother’s generation taught us was wrong, though much was right. Her generation brought us plastics and disposables, larger corporations and better roads and communication, better education, equal rights for minorities,. The list can go on for pages. But we’ve lost some of the basics.
Our children and grandchildren have no clue that putting leftover tomatoes in the same trash bin as the container those tomatoes came in is robbing the earth of its future. We cannot continue to take the best our earth has to offer in the way of food and nutrients, then bury those nutrients along with plastic and metal contaminants in a sealed pit.
Most of us reading this column are old folks who can remember a simpler life. Some of the things our parents believed have proven through time to have been wrong or superstitious. Some of them were lies promoted by the media, and our parents tended to believe what they read or heard over the radio. We are a bit more savvy, since we know that there are at least as many lies told though the media as truths.
Our job is to sift through those things we learned from our parents, to discern those, which were true and those which weren’t. Those elemental truths of our parents need to be brought to light again, before we’re dead and the idea is lost.
There is no such thing as trash; only things that are in the wrong place or in unusable form. As Mother said: Everything in its proper place.

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