just another word for efficient: backyard composting

I’ll admit it:  I’ve got a lazy streak–which is why I compost waste in my backyard.  You know, with one of those standard black plastic composters with aeration holes. 

I figure that if I put fruit and vegetable waste out there, it’s that much less stuff to lug to the curb on garbage day.  Since about half of the material I put back there is water, a lot of it really disappears, but would add weight to the stuff I bring to the curb.

Plus it’s easier.  Jar of olives that’s past its prime?  Leftover oatmeal?  All of that watery stuff goes straight to the composter–no leaks, no mess.

When we eat dinner at the patio table outside, corn cobs and leftover vegetables go directly into the composter before I bring the dishes back into the house.

Once in a while, I cover the fruit and vegetable waste with leaves, old compost (which looks like a dark mix of ground, leaves and twigs) or ground.  This helps accelerate decomposition and discourages pests and odours.

I use two composters:  one right next to my back door and one further from the house . 

I use the one closest to the house is mostly in winter.  Trudging through snow that’s two feet deep to cross the yard to get to a backyard composter in January was a drag (…lazy).  I can empty fruit and vegetable waste into the composter without even changing out of my slippers (…lazy).  In the late spring, I usually cover it with a lot of ground or compost from the other composter.  

Then, when it’s nice out, I switch the routine:  I mostly use the composter that’s farther away from the house.  After a while, I layer material from the composter close to the house onto the second composter.

And for fruit and vegetable waste destined to the backyard composter, I don’t use a special container or kitchen catcher.  I just grab any sort of bowl that’s in the sink and empty it every day, then toss the bowl into the dishwasher–that way there’s no gross container to clean.  (Yeah, there’s that lazy thing again.) 

If you read up on backyard composters, they say that you should keep the contents of your composter about as damp as a wrung out sponge.  Right.  I’m not taking out the hose to water my garbage (…lazy).  I make sure it’s covered with a good layer of ground or older compost and leave the lid off the composter if rain is in the forcast.  Otherwise, I leave the cover on if we’ve been getting a lot of sun.

I put a lot of stuff into it, but I don’t get as much compost out of my backyard composter.  But it’s that much less stuff to drag to the curb…lazy!

How does backyard composting work for you?

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my garbage story, or this is how my family generates less than one can of trash per week

I’ve been dealing with garbage for a long time. 

…or how I cut down from a two to five per week habit to a less than one per week habit:

It goes back to my childhood…Ah yes, there I am in my fluorescent orange T-shirt and faded overalls riding my fluorescent pink and sky blue skateboard back up the driveway…

I load another garbage can onto the skateboard and pull it down the driveway.  Repeat.  I lived in a household of five, plus my dad had a small home-based business. It was the late `80s inCornwall:  acid-washed jeans were cool, and fine paper recycling was just starting to catch on at school. 

We produced in the ballpark of 2 to 5 cans of garbage. 

Every week.

Fast forward to 2012.  Today, my family of four produces between 1/2 to 2/3 of a can of garbage per week. 

How did I get from there to here?  My household changed its habits over time:  we recycle a lot, and I’ve found ways to minimize the amount of garbage we produce.

I look for ways to reduce the amount of non-recyclable garbage we produce;  I think of ways to make it more convenient to make waste-reduction a habit.  

The key is continuous improvement of habits.

My goal, this summer, is to only produce 1/2 a can of garbage per week, and only take out the garbage every second week.

I’ll blog on my thoughts and progress.  I’ll ask for your feedback and ideas.  Every month, I’ll focus on a different theme.  Even though the mantra is ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ in that order of priority, I’ll focus on recycling first since I think that’s the easiest way to quickly reduce your amount of ‘garbage’.

I’ll share my experience as a sort of case-study only.  If you’re looking for detailed information about the City of Ottawa’s waste management services and recycling programs, please visit www.ottawa.ca.