soil

A Year of Collecting Food Scraps in A Bucket

It has been my first full year of composting, or really, my first full year of saving food scraps and keeping them in a bucket on my fire escape until it gets picked up to be made into compost.

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Each month before I set my bucket out on the front step, I used my hanging scale to weigh it, diligently tracking my results in a spreadsheet.

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And now, here we are, twelve months later, and we have successfully diverted a total of 215 pounds (plus some here or there) from the landfill!

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It is pretty impressive and I am very proud of myself for this accomplishment!

Here’s the month by month breakdown of our food waste poundage.

  • January 15.5 lbs
  • February 17.22 lbs
  • March 12 lbs
  • April 18.71 lbs
  • May 8.8 lbs
  • June 20.44 lbs
  • July 22.84 lbs
  • August 25.4 lbs
  • September 19.74 lbs
  • October 21.61 lbs
  • November 18.5 lbs
  • December 14.58 lbs

That’s 287 pounds of organic matter going back into our soil and helping plants thrive. Wahoo!

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You Can Compost More Than Food

Most of the time when we think of what goes into compost, we think of organic food waste and yard clippings.

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While that is entirely correct, there are plenty of other natural items that can be added to your compost pile as well. Here are some other items you may have been tossing into a landfill that are perfectly acceptable to be returned back to the soil.

  • Dry Cereal
  • Bread
  • Crackers & pretzels
  • Pasta, rice, and grains
  • Loose leaf tea
  • Natural fibers (ie. cotton, hemp, silk, wool)
  • Coffee grounds
  • Shredded paper
  • Human and pet hair
  • Sawdust
  • Cardboard
  • Lint from dryer and vacuum
  • Napkins, paper towels, and tissues
  • Wooden chopsticks and popsicle sticks
  • Wood ashes
  • Brown paper bags
  • Old spices
  • Egg shells
  • Expired jams and preserves
  • Nail clippings
  • Cotton balls & cotton swabs (the cardboard kind)

Think of what will actually be left in your trash can! Probably not a lot!

All of this depends on if you are composting at home or using a service. If you have compost collection, your municipality or service will give you exact guidelines of what is and is not allowed.

Below is what my pick up service, Healthy Soil Compost, accepts.

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Lots of Food Scraps- Good or Bad?

It’s Compost Awareness Week!

 

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Even though I have been collecting my food scraps for compost collection for over a year now, I only started weighing our compost bucket last August.

I keep a little spreadsheet with the totals from each month.

  • August 11.22 lb
  • September 5.88 lb
  • October 7.04 lb
  • November 15.74 lb (house plant and outdoor plant)
  • December 11.48 lb (Not including our Halloween pumpkin)
  • January 10.38 lb
  • February 15.5 lb (dead house plant, RIP)
  • March 17.22 lb (chicken carcass, cleaned out the fridge)
  • April 12 lb
  • May 18.74 lb
  • TOTAL TO DATE = 125.2 POUNDS

While the numbers have fluctuated and have been going up, I have been bothered about whether or not that is a good thing.

Having a heavy compost bucket means we have a lot of food scraps and that can mean one of two things:

1.  We are finally figuring out what can be composted and just collecting more of it

OR

2. We are just wasting a lot of food 

So which one is it? What do you think?

How Much Food Waste Can You Create in 5 Months?

I started composting for the first time when I moved to the City.

That does not sound like it should be an accurate statement, right? But it is! You can learn more about how I started to compost in this previous post.

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It wasn’t until a few months ago that I decided to start keeping track of how much food waste I was collecting in my composting bucket. To do so, I first weighed an empty bucket with my hanging scale. Then when it was time for me to put out my bucket for pick up, I would weigh it again and subtract the weight of the empty bucket, leaving me with the correct amount of weight.

August through December of 2016, I diverted 51.36 pounds of organic waste from the landfill!

That is only the measurement of me (and sometimes K) contributing for only 5 months of the year. Think of what we could do in a whole year!

My bucket and I have now been through all the seasons together. In the spring, I kept a potted plant on top of it. In the summer, the bucket smelled a bit when it was opened so I tended to do that outside. In the fall, we were happy campers, and in the winter we have already worked through some freezing and thawing cycles.

I am so glad to have started this composting journey. Not only have I learned a lot, but everyone else around me has learned a lot whether they wanted to or not. K’s friends even ask him how the composting is going. I know it’s in jest, but at least they are talking about it!

#VoteOurPlanet

Last night I attended an event at my local Patagonia store called Vote Our Planet.

“We need to elect leaders at the local, state and national levels who will defend the well-being of our families and communities—leaders who support clean water, clean air, strong climate action and a courageous shift to renewable energy.

If we don’t act, then someone else will—someone who doesn’t care about a future for our children and other wild things.

The point was to get people to vote locally and nationally for our natural resources, because if we don’t, no one will. Additionally, Chicago Votes was there to register any new voters. Since I am already registered and I have been since I turned 18, I was asked to film a quick segment on why I am registered and how it makes me feel. Basically, I said that while being able to vote in presidential elections is an honor, it is also extremely important that young people vote in local elections as well.

In the first part of the event, we watched a segment from Patagonia on their Defend Our Air campaign, but you can also check out their Defend Our Water, and Defend Our Soil campaigns.

Afterward, there was a panel discussion that included people from Illinois Environmental Council, Sierra Club Illinois Chapter, and the Environmental Law and Policy Center. The audience asked questions ranging from how college students could get more involved in local politics, to what are the most challenging parts of their job.

Overall, the night was very informative and made me really think about how I have been lacking in participating in local and state elections. While the presidential election is the one making the news right now, the smaller elections are ones that can also help defend our air, water, and soil.