Monday, July 22, 2013

Getting excited about garbage

I haven't been this excited about garbage in years. 

My neighborhood is participating in the East Madison organics collection pilot program, and this spring and summer I have noticed with envy my neighbors putting food scraps and yard waste into black bins that the roll out to the curb on trash day. Our house didn't come with a bin, and I wanted one. I learned that it's a pilot, and I requested a bin.

So you can't imagine my excitement when I got the following email from George Dreckmann, the recycling coordinator, "We will get you signed up. This brings our Eastside pilot up to 302 households which is over our limit so we cannot add any more right now."

In addition to the 35-gallon bin, we also got a 2-gallon kitchen collector with a close-fitting lid and a carry handle. We also got some compostable bags that allow kitchen scraps to ventilate and evaporate moisture while keeping smells and other nasty things in the bag. What I'm most excited about, to be perfectly honest, is the ability to include small amounts of yard waste. Seriously, that apple tree doesn't stop dropping fruit!

From left to right, green bin for recycling, brown for garbage, and the new little black bin for compostable materials.
Our bin arrived today, and I went  to the website to see what other materials are being collected. They also collect house plants, weeds, and other compostable material such as paper towels, napkins and plates, pizza boxes, and any paper products too contaminated to be recycled. They also take pet waste of any kind including cat litter! (Although that's not a problem, because we use flushable cat litter.)
A 2-gallon kitchen collector with a close-fitting lid and a carry handle, and compostable bag.

Many of these items cannot safely be composted in a backyard compost bin, but they will compost nicely in the large scale compost system where temperatures are high enough to kill harmful pathogens.

So while on the farm we fed food scraps to animals, and "composted" everything else, I'm pleased that we will be more deliberate in our urban setting.