Composting: A Rant

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Food scraps from last Friday’s dinner

In the city of Seattle, food waste is not allowed in the rubbish nor are recyclable items. Food waste joins lawn and garden waste in a big plastic bin collected every week on the same day as the rubbish, in a separate truck and for a different destination. Seattle composts, mostly citywide, but there are exceptions such as apartment complexes where either the owners or management along with the tenants cannot be bothered to comply. I heard the same argument in Portland earlier this month against that city’s policy of separating food waste from pure trash, let alone laziness with respect to mere recycling. The argument:  it’s just too much trouble to put food waste into a container over the course of a day and then empty it into the appropriate receptacle in the evening. They pat themselves on the back if they put junk mail and newspapers into the recycling bin.

These people don’t give a hoot about conservation and massive landfills and they feel free to flout the composting law because enforcement has proven very difficult. A court challenge in Seattle to the legality of rubbish inspection for food waste by the dustman was recently successful. Apparently we still own the rubbish until it’s actually in the big truck and inspecting for improper content is an illegal search. That’s a big comfort to the lazy and uncaring (and probably to some of the dustmen who aren’t fond of that part of their job.)

Having learned to compost at my mother’s country home, I was pleased to find out that the community in which I now live takes the time and care to do so. I start with a plastic dish when I’m cooking, filling it and then dumping the bits into the plastic coffee can for emptying at night. I rinse it, then put a used paper towel in as liner for the next day. It is a minimal bother and composting is a very good thing.

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Compost container at day’s end, awaiting trip to the bin

It’s easy to tell what was prepared in the kitchen from looking at the photos, too, and then to know that the peels and scraps are off to a better place than a landfill.

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