Tuesday July 29, 2014

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

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The great recycle

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I recently “cleaned greenhouse” in a brutal purge that dumped any pot that hadn’t shown signs of germination, or held sickly plants. The soil landed around potato plants growing directly from the ground, within the shelter’s perimeter.

These potatoes needed hilling. There was no funeral for experimental flower seeds, or for the herbs that got a little cold and stunted. No cry-cry; no suffering; this was the great recycle and all potting soil went on to good use.

Recently, our local paper printed an article about waste problems in a small town, involving rising costs paid to contractors, who truck waste and recyclables to landfills or recycle facilities. Ratepayers find garbage increasingly expensive. It’s such a waste.

No joke! I’ve pondered the packaging crisis and searched online for compostable packaging for this year’s farmers’ market, finally locating completely compostable bags for produce, shopping bags for those who didn’t carry reusable bags with them, and completely compostable food containers suitable for salad sales. These are all made from plants, not petro-chemicals.

The thought of plastic bags I buy, then send off with my own organic produce inside them, simply adding to our current waste crisis, weighed heavily on me. I had to do something.

With many recycling facilities refusing to accept plastic bags, even if they’re marked with the appropriate recycling triangle, what choice is there? For me, switching to compostable containers seemed the only logical answer.

But who composts?

Anyone with a backyard can dig a small hole and toss in leaves, grass clippings, tea bags and egg shells, vegetable waste and more. The ground gladly takes it back. Even apartment dwellers have neighbours with backyards.

Composting isn’t backbreaking work. Digging little holes in your garden to bury waste causes it to disappear faster, because soil organisms have more surface area to access it. The last book I read indicated there was absolutely no need to turn small compost piles.

Various composting cones and enclosures are available. You can cut the bottom from a five-gallon pail and dig it one-third of the way into the ground. It’s surprising how fast goodies are consumed by healthy recycling soil organisms.

Sending organic matter to a landfill is a huge waste of energy, money and soil regenerating potential; much like buying food wrapped in toxic, landfill-bound plastic.

I’m hoping compostable containers move us all closer to truly living from the farm.


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