Wednesdays start with a thrill when I hear that first truck rumbling down the street on its way to haul away the week’s trash. A few minutes later, the satisfying clink and clatter of my recyclables tumbling into the belly of the second truck makes me smile. The hollow thunk of the recycling bin hitting the pavement tells me that I’m two-thirds of the way to a clean slate for the week. But, the best is yet to come.
I hop out of bed and shuffle down the narrow stairs to the kitchen, saying a small prayer asking that none of my neighbors will catch me out at the curb in my PJs. Murmuring breakfast promises to the hungry kitties winding hopefully around my slippered feet, I open the broom closet and – not without some effort – hoist out the crown jewel of my trash day bliss: my composting bin.
I do not use compost. I do not have a garden. Honestly, I can barely be trusted to mow the lawn. But, I am an unabashed geek for curbside composting.
I’m proud to say that I was an early adopter, joining Ipswich’s program when it first launched in 2011. I can no longer recall what initially prompted me to head down to the DPW office to sign up and collect my bin (I’m guessing it had something to do with the grassroots – pun intended – efforts of the program’s enthusiastic champions, Judy Sedgewick, Heather Pillis, and other folks on the Recycling Advisory Committee). I’m just glad I got involved.
Before joining the curbside program, I was a little fuzzy on the whole composting thing. I’d had some exposure when my daughter was at the Cuvilly Arts and Earth Center. I’d read some articles about a process that involved a complicated-looking structure with multiple trays and a large quantity of worms. It sounded like a good idea, but was a bit intimidating.
Curbside composting to the rescue.
If you can throw trash into a barrel, you can handle curbside composting. On Wednesdays, I line my bin (optional) with a biodegradable leaf bag (trimmed slightly for a better fit), and I’m ready to go. All our household organic waste materials go in the bin: food scraps (including bones), soiled paper (such as napkins and paper towels), yard waste (grass clippings and weeds, etc.), and even kitty litter.
Because of all the recycling and composting, my “regular” trash now fits in one kitchen bag and weighs next to nothing. This saves Ipswich money (trash-hauling costs are based on weight), but mostly it makes me happy to do something that’s good for the planet.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency website, more than 36 million tons of food waste went to US landfills in 2011. Unfortunately, food waste in landfills does not decompose as quickly as you might think, and when it does, it’s a significant source of methane, a dangerous greenhouse gas.
The contents of Ipswich’s curbside composting bins, on the other hand, meet a much happier and more environmentally friendly end at Brick Ends Farm in Hamilton where owner Peter Britton runs a state-of-the-art composting facility. His team processes approximately twelve tons of food waste per day, turning our table scraps into organic “black gold” soil amendment products that replace animal manures and chemical fertilizers.
Brick Ends Farm products are used by farmers and gardeners throughout Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. So, my egg shells and orange peels could wind up helping to grow blueberries in Bar Harbor or tomatoes in the Fenway victory gardens. How cool is that?
Life should come with more second chances. Things aren’t usually that simple … except, maybe, on trash day. Curbside composting gives me a fresh start each week and makes it easy for me to do something good for Ipswich and the planet. It’s a small thing; but, sometimes, small things make a big difference.