Monday, May 25, 2009

talking trash

I am neither No Impact Man nor Fake Plastic Fish. Garbageland, while interesting, is in no shape or form the experiment for me. And part of the reason I'm not too active on BlogHer is that I feel like I'm sailing under false colors in their Green and Eco-Conscious category--eco-conscious, me? I'm just a gardener here.

Well, maybe.

If you ask, I'll describe myself as "casually green." Aware of the problem and willing to go a few steps out of my way to help mitigate it, so long as those steps aren't too arduous or difficult to remember. Habitually green, in many ways, but not in every one. The journey away from plastic is incredible to read about, a great conversation-starter, and far too difficult for me to even consider embarking upon myself. And so on through the larger changes of lifestyle.

Reducing the amount of trash I throw away was never really the goal when I started bokashi. Not exactly. I wanted to stop throwing away things I could turn into compost. The small benefit to the overloaded trashstream made a nice secondary excuse for carving out some funds from my always-straitened budget to start bokashi-ing, but the primary reason was to make compost, cheaply, instead of buying it expensively.

That's all.

This week, I threw away a grand total of one gallon of trash (not counting the kitty litter). The recycling bin got its fair share, though I didn't measure that. But all that went into the trash bin was a single re-purposed one-gallon bag, filled mainly with the plastic wrappings of grocery-store purchases.

In that same week, I put one and a quarter gallons of soi-disant "waste" into the bokashi bucket.

This, mind, not counting the UCG I took home from the office, nor the scrapings from the cat-food dish that got fed to Repulsive. All by myself, in one week, I generated more than a gallon of fermentable could-be-trash-or-could-be-useful kitchen stuffs: UCG, tea leaves, cantaloupe rind and banana peels and corn-silk and -husk and -cob, the insect-nibbled outer leaves of garden produce, onion-skins and burdock peel...

It's possible that I'm eating more fresh produce because of the bokashi--both because the garden's doing well enough that there's simply more fresh produce within feet of my front door than ever before, and because I'm more inclined to buy whole fruits and vegetables at the market now. These days, I balance the "there's only one of me" calculation that would have led to my buying, say, a package of melon cubes instead of a whole melon with the realization that the leftovers will keep in the fridge a day or two, and Verne might like the rind when I'm through.

And I'm quite sure I recycle more because of the bokashi bucket. In the old days, I might toss an empty cat food can in the trash rather than wash it out for recycling, my issues with the household feline's chosen treat being what they are. Why not, if I was going to have to take the trash out that day anyway? And some bottles are really hard to wash out, and since there's a can going in anyway... But these days, I take the trash out once a week because the bins have to go down to street-level anyway, rather than out of urgent need. (Always excepting the kitty litter.)

It feels fairly revolutionary to me, the idea that trash doesn't have to smell bad nor be taken out every day or two, but landfills were never meant to receive so much organic matter; the wholescale trashing of compostables is a new--and regrettable--practice. My great-grandparents would have fed their kitchen leavings to chickens or goats or pigs, depending, as would their parents and grands back through the years; my grandmother had a vegetarian compost pile for years, until moving to one of those horrible planned communities whose planners didn't plan for them. My mother throws things away, as do all her peers.

Me, I'm not inclined toward livestock, even if I had the space. But I seem to have largely traded in my trash can for a bucket or two. And I have to say, I am more than happy with the exchange! The trashstream is less taxed by my contributions, which is lovely; and my garden is thriving, which I have to admit I find far more satisfying. Still, it is nice to know I'm putting less of a burden on the earth in some small way. You couldn't call it accidentally green, as I knew the benefit was there at least in potential, more serendipitously green, in that I wasn't looking for it, but am happy to have found it anyway.

Bokashi allows me to compost more than I'd ever thought possible, including meats, oils, and dairy. All the organic kitchen waste. Leaving nothing to spoil in the trash, to stink and attract insects and generate methane and all those horrid things.

(Still excepting the cat litter, as I've yet to find a compostable sort the HF will use.)

Kermit was wrong: sometimes it is easy.

Being...well, you know. -G-


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