Saturday, January 5, 2008

Unexpected compost contributions

My workplace is fairly progressive regarding recycling. Every year, we have a month dedicated to deleting and purging old and unneeded records. Recycling bins are set up all over the building to make it easier for employees to place their paper there rather than throwing it away. Any office supplies no longer needed are placed in boxes to be made available to others for reuse. While there are extra paper recycling bins made available during this time, there always some present in each department grouping. Communal garbage cans usually always have a comingled recycling can right next to it. Employees can recycle glass, plastic (#1-7) and paper in the same bin.

My department also reuses paper. Any paper with printing on one side is placed in a paper holder next to the printer so a person can print using the remaining blank side of paper. This is a simple thing but few other departments practice this method as recycling is easier.

However, there is no bin for composting food waste. Now, much of the food waste is unable to be composted (fat or meat), but many people also bring fruit to work. This means peels and cores end up in the garbage because how else is a person supposed to dispose of it? One of my colleagues eats a banana a day and I asked her to start giving me the banana peels. This way, they were not going to the garbage and my composter received some new contributions. Since the pile inside my composter is small, I need all the help I can get to bring it to critical cooking mass.

This same colleague prepared vegetable trays during the holidays and saved two ice cream buckets worth of peelings and veggie inards. When she told me after the holidays she had a gift for me, I wondered what it was. Then she revealed she had saved these compostable items for me and I was surprised. First, she made the effort to save them for me and second, I imagine other people would be thinking "Ew! Why would someone want vegetable bits?". Truly, I was happy she thought of me and saved her carrot peelings and green pepper inards. The more I add to my compost pile, the sooner I might get some compost to use in my garden. And I know the scraps would have gone in the garbage normally so compostable items were prevented from going into a landfill.

I intend on bringing an ice cream bucket to work and asking (harrassing?) others into adding to it. I would like to rescue more compostable stuff from the garbage if I can. It would be wonderful if my workplace would consider this idea as well but I will start within my department first. The company has extensive grounds including landscaped areas. I would like to think that they could use compost to help the plants grow and maintain soil health.

Do you view vegetable peelings given to you by friends or coworkers as a gift or poor idea? I would love to read your thoughts.

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