Composting 101

I feel like I should be a plant person. I love being outside and nature. Especially plants. Eating them. Looking at them. I’m fascinated by their incredible functionality, endurance and variety. But helping them thrive remains something that eludes me. Even basic houseplants, I have five that have maybe gone a little too long without water.

I’m working on it.

Something that goes hand-in-hand with my hesitancy towards all things gardening includes composting. It seems so intimidating. If you look online you’ll be met with a hundred different ways to skin a cat that range from downright intense, to almost too easy.

And then there is the whole science behind it. Brown to green ratios. Moisture, but not too much. Worms or not? There are so many options, which led me to a juncture where I was almost too informed to make a decision either way. The perfectionist in me and the desire to do it in the most right fashion had me completely stuck.

But as I peered down into my garbage can – the first thing zero wasters tell you to do. It was clear that kitchen scraps comprised the vast majority of what ended up in the bin. And this is after most vegetable peels and ends had been frozen away for stock.

So I decided to take action.

And seriously, I wish I would have done this years ago.

Almost embarrassingly so when you consider there’s over a billion tons of food waste globally per year, which is roughly one-third all produced for consumption. Ending up in a landfill unless we do otherwise.

The guilt felt as heavy as the numbers themselves.

So we went for it. We started off with a sixty liter plastic garbage can and drilled holes in the sides and top for aeration. I collected some fallen leaves from the ground. Added the first batch of fruit rinds, egg shells, coffee grounds and otherwise. Mixed it with a big shovel. And placed it in a corner of the yard where it would get a lot of sun.

Every couple of days, I add more food stuffs. Give it a stir. Debate on more brown depending on the level of wetness.

And yeah…

It’s working.

A nice decomposing type of look and feel that smells ripe enough to make me feel like I know what I’m doing.

I’m also doing a much better job of keeping track of the shelf life of my produce. Here in Ecuador, we buy from local markets and mostly organic, which significantly decreases how long fruit and vegetables stay fresh. But after doing some research online about storage, and adhering to a more diligent daily scan of my fridge, I’ve found that I rarely miss the opportunity to eat what I’ve bought.

Between composting, some practical changes, and our dogs – who are always up for the extra animal products that make their way into their kibble – we’ve managed to reduce our food waste to essentially nothing.

It’s almost become a game.

To see how many weeks I can go before filling up one garbage bag.

And something that may have crossed my mind before, but has never been such an active part of my everyday. Changing that all so important perspective on what it means to live. And how I choose to do it.

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