Composting: What to do with Really Fallen Fruit, Bad Take-out, Old Old Media

If you cook at home a lot, if you have kids who can't feed everything they won't eat to their dog, if you have a garden or would like to, if you have an orange tree that catapults its fruit faster than you can make marmalade, if you've spent any time at all contemplating the landfill universe of the contemporary world, then you might consider the logical virtues of composting. (If you've already gone out to fork the morning's plum pits and espresso grounds into your compost bin, just skip nobly ahead.) You'd already be considering this if you lived in San Francisco, where last month mayor Gavin Newsom signed "the most comprehensive mandatory composting and recycling law in the country," which this fall will make it illegal to toss your vegetables into the trash instead of eating them.

Read the fine print, then compost
Read the fine print, then compost
Photo credit: Amy Scattergood

Composting is neither as laborious nor as grubby as you might think, and it's a fantastically efficient way to recycle both kitchen and garden waste. All it takes is a container, small attention to the architecture of its contents, and some consistency. Read this Ohio State University fact sheet, which tells you pretty much all you need to know. Or put on your Birkenstocks Saturday and attend this Huntington Beach seminar, called, enticingly enough, "The Magic of Composting."

Not only can you repurpose, guilt-free, the dreadful take-out, squandered fruit baskets, and mournful vegan casseroles (as a rule, meat and dairy are not compost material) you may have lurking around your kitchen, but you now have a way to translate those stacks of old newspapers into something really useful. (Newsprint makes fine composting material, particularly if you've eaten your breakfast while reading it.) And I must say that there is a beautiful contrapasso to mulching one's Early Girl tomato plants and Meyer lemon trees with compost made from the last of Frank Bruni's restaurant reviews.


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