This morning I read a piece on NPR that told about how Seattle is dealing with it’s new COMPOSTING rules. If you don’t separate the compost from your garbage, you’ll be fined! Here’s the article.
In our building, Horizon House, which is a Retirement Community in downtown Seattle, we are trying very hard to separate our discards into three components: compost; recycling; and trash (everything else!).
It continues to be a challenge when we are presented with three different receptacles! Most folks just don’t know where things go. Let’s try being VERY basic.
RECYCLING things are able to be converted into another product. For instance, cans and bottles can be broken down again and reused for new cans and bottles, as well as all kinds of things made from glass and metal. Plastic containers and bottles are broken down and can be used again in, among plenty of other things, those wonderful fleece jackets we all wear! So, they can be recycled, or reused. Why put them into the landfill where they will sit forever, being good for nothing, except to fill up space and look awful?
So, put those containers into the “RECYCLING” bin!
COMPOSTING is what you do with ANYTHING ORGANIC. Well, what is ORGANIC in this sense of the word? Organic, when you are talking about disposables, or garbage, trash or whatever, refers to anything that was derived from a living organism. So, for instance, your coffee grounds come from a bean; tea comes from leaves; paper comes from trees; uneaten hamburgers come from a steer; those apple cores come from an apple; and orange peels from an orange. They have all been alive in some sense or other. THEY ARE COMPOSTABLE! Unfortunately, many (maybe I should say ALL) grocery store chains seem to put little plastic stickers on their fruit, and some vegetables. If you can, try to remove them and stick them in the trash instead. Fortunately, if a few escape you will probably be alright, because they won’t add up to the 10% allowed in the compost.
Compost is WONDERFUL to return to the soil. Compost is called BLACK GOLD by gardeners and farmers because it is so very beneficial for growing things. Remember that old biblical saying, “From dust you came, to dust you shall return”. It’s true, and it applies to all living things!
Nowadays, many food “carrying” products (like boxes, plates and cups) are made of corn making them compostable. Actually, paper plates would break down nicely as well, so long as they are not coated with plastic. The plastic destroys them for being considered compostable.
Which beings us to the next category: TRASH. Trash is anything that does not fit in the other two categories. So, there are the little catchup packets, for instance. They are just junk! Some of the plastics fall into this category since they can be too small to be considered “recyclable” (like straws). I always say, “If in doubt, throw them out”. (Or put in the trash.)
Do try to be careful. If you are not sure, use the trash. Use the compost and the recycling bins carefully. One plastic product can ruin the compost and the whole thing has to be tossed in the trash.