Recycling in the 21st Century

Recycling in the 21st Century
by Bec Slocum

Someone is always doing a study of something, and thankfully, someone did a study on recycling. They figured out that the most impact on recycling effectiveness is at the household level. Even compared to all those huge factories that they studied on toxic waste, your little house, multiplied by all the many millions of homes in the country, has the ability to impact the environment in a positive way on a larger scale - simply by recycling your trash and kitchen and garden waste, instead of taking it to the curb. Which means no more finger pointing. We all do what we can to cut down on landfill space, and now we have some things that will make that so much easier, you may wonder why you hadn't thought of it before.

You have probably read articles in the past about how recycling leaves in the fall can reduce trash truck runs by as much as 25%. That alone reduces the size of landfill space as well as gas emissions from the trash trucks. So we can “kill two birds with one stone” just by composting our fall leaves. has many choices in composters. There is a design for every person and every budget. You might think you have too many leaves to bother composting them, but it actually takes less work (and no plastic bags) to put them in a composter, and the benefits of the finished product is the other best thing you can do to nurture Mother Nature.

If you have a tumbling composter, like the Tumbleweed (my personal favorite), it will convert 3 bushels of leaves (or more) into gardener's “black gold” in 3 weeks. Got more than 3 bushels of leaves? Pile them up next to your composter waiting for the next batch. If you wet them down once in a while, it helps hold them down. Or, better yet, get a Geo bin to store them in. We have those available too. You can experiment with different composting methods using different composters. Composting can actually become very fascinating once you get into it.

Fall leaves are not all a person can (and aught to) compost. We have kitchen waste composters that do all of it for you. The Nature Mill Indoor Home Composter is quiet, odorless, and can be put into a cupboard behind a door if desired. Instead of scraping all the leftovers into the disposal, you simply scrape them into the Nature Mill. It has a large lid, so filling it is easy. It’s electric, so it does all the stirring and heating, and it makes it’s own compost tea. Things you would normally throw down the garbage disposal (which uses a lot of water to grind up food) can be put into this indoor composter that can make your garden beautiful.

If you are still confounded by all the different choices and ways to compost, go with the Earthmaker. It doesn’t look like the conventional composters that you tumble, it looks more like an outdoor filing cabinet. One of these just outside the kitchen door is a very convenient and easy way to make “black gold” out of all your compost-able debris. You just keep adding to the top, the Earthmaker and gravity do the mixing and converting, and the finished compost is easily harvested from the bottom. Use one of the Odor Free Compost Buckets to keep kitchen waste in until you can add it to the composter.

If you don’t have the inclination or time to do a lot of recycling, anything you can do will be a step in the right direction. You can fill up one of our cold composters like the Feelgood, with kitchen and yard materials and just let it sit, forget about it, and eventually you will find all the materials compacted down into fertile compost in the bottom. And you hardly have to work at it. If you add some Compost Activator to the cold composters it gives them a jump start at decomposition.

There is a level of commitment to recycling for each of us, based on how much time we have for it, how much we want to do it, and how many things we want to recycle. Many in our country recycle aluminum cans because we are rewarded for it with cash. But, there are some things that are better than cash (granted, not too many). You can recycle your paper and kitchen waste, even doggie doo, into worm castings. sells these nifty worm factories that make it so easy to get worm castings to harvest and use for all your plants. Worm castings take compost a step further in the decomposition process, which makes all the nutrients more accessible to the plants roots on the chemical level. Worms digest and completely change the chemistry of every thing you give them to eat. It becomes totally unrecognizable as what it was, and becomes the darkest, richest, most nutritious plant food, soil amendment, and all-round aide to plant health on the planet.

I have seen with my own eyes what just a top- dressing or tea will do for plants. It is really marvelous, and within a week or two you can actually see the improvement. Take a look at the Worm Factory and Pet Poo Converter for making worm castings more streamlined.

Even old-timer composters like myself can learn new tricks for recycling. People send me paper in the mail all the time, and I even buy it sometimes. In the winter I can burn it with the wood, but in the warmer months, which is at least 6 out of 12, I can get buried in the stuff. Some say we are in the electronic age, but I think we are still in the paper age.

We recycle cardboard (can get cash for that!), and newspaper can be bundled up and dropped off-but what about all the junk mail and the personal data papers you have to shred. My worms now eat all my junk mail and personal data no longer goes to the dump. It’s truly amazing what volume of shredded paper can be consumed by those little worms! This is truly a symbiotic relationship. I feed the worms my trash, they make worm castings that I feed my plants that feed me fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, etc. The flowers love the stuff too, so that feeds my soul. It’s a wonderful life!

We’ve done our best to help and not hinder Mother Earth as she sustains us. We have done the “responsible” thing in contributing to the recycling movement. If we don’t, it may not stay a choice.