Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Recycling and Composting

We've gone from cold and clear to cold and foggy. My walk to work yesterday was completely socked in, as you can see in this photo of the Alexandra Road estate in St. John's Wood.

I haven't yet told you about our local council's plan to increase recycling, have I? They're going to collect the trash only once every two weeks. Recycling, on the other hand, will be collected weekly -- except yard waste, for which we'll now have to pay separately.

The idea is to coerce people to move more of their household waste stream into the recycling bags. Dave and I already recycle all our glass and most of our paper and plastic, but I have always balked at the idea of recycling food waste. (Yes, that is possible! The council distributes little brown bins that go under your sink and hold all your bones, potato peelings, rotten fruit, eggshells and the like. I think "recycling" actually entails dumping it all into commercial digesters, but don't quote me on that -- I'm not entirely sure what they do with it.) Anyway, it just seems gross to me, and besides, doesn't food break down in a landfill? I don't really see why food needs to be recycled.

This schedule change begins in April. You know how I am about our trash cans -- so it will be interesting to see how this alters their use. The ornery, unreasonable part of me wants to just keep putting our trash in the trash can like we always have, and if it overflows and piles up over a two-week period and the foxes distribute it all over the neighborhood, so be it! (I'm sure there are people who will take this approach -- probably more than I'd like to think.)

But the reasonable part of me says, grudgingly, "OK, we'll try to recycle more."

I never thought I'd be grudging about recycling at all. It just seems like it's reaching extreme levels!

As for yard waste, I'm not sure what we'll do about that. Rather than pay for its disposal, we could probably compost it at the back of the garden. Maybe we'll try that -- and perhaps we'll add the compostable elements of our food waste to the pile. Again, though, I feel like the foxes and critters will have a field day!


Yorkshire Pudding said...

If you purchase a big black composting bin with a little door at the bottom, it will have a lid and will be secure from foxes and other creatures. I have three composting bins and two old dustbins, plus my grass cuttings pile. We put very little food waste in our regular wheelie bin which is collected every two weeks. You have to be patient with composting but when you have created your own black, rich compost to enrich the garden it is a great feeling.

See https://getcomposting.com/profile/login

Anonymous said...

Here in Germany we can use the brown bins for yards waste too - in a household quantity (whatever amount that is). They're preparing compost from the stuff in the brown bins and sell it later. If you have enough space in your garden, I would recommend to compost it yourself, but wouldn't fill it with cooked food or meat. It will attract rats soon.

Cheryl West said...

We have been composting for years with bins like Puddings. No meats or cooked food but all the fruit and veg. peelings and rinds. If you keep the lids tight you should deter the foxes. Your flower beds will be the beneficeiries.
We have big bins on wheels now for trash and recycling. I wish our recycling was picked up weekly as we generate more of that than the trash. The town says the more recycling helps to reduce taxes.

Ms. Moon said...

As I read this post I thought about the fact that I need to take my trash to the trash place. Depot? Whatever. I love YP's idea for you and Dave to compost. Of course, you and Dave may not like the idea at all.

ellen abbott said...

we would not even fill a big trash can in a month. we generate about a large plastic grocery bag worth of trash a week or longer. we recycle everything except #6 plastic (styrofoam) which no one will take (peanuts I reuse or take back to someplace that will use them). food waste (even cooked though two of your commenters say no to cooked food, I've never heard that was bad) except for meat goes in the compost pile (which is good for gardening so you and Dave should already have one). mine is just a pile at the back of the property and I don't mind if wild animals forage in it. Minnie used to until I put a little 12" high wire fence around it which she could easily jump over but she doesn't. anyway, it doesn't need to be an open pile in the yard like mine. There are many systems for composting.

Sabine said...

I actually enjoy composting or "recycling food". I like the idea that we never throw away any food but put it on the compost - we have two compost heaps in our garden, one is active, the otzer one rests etc. - and then use to grow more food.

It's easy to build/maintain a compost heap in a city, esp. if you also have grass cuttings and leaves. We rarely eat meat, so the only animal produce we throw on it is the odd eggshell or cheese rind. I throw fish bones and animal bones into the black rubbish bin.
My gardener husband delights in the quality of the compost (as do the blackbirds) and he loves spreading the highly nutritious stuff on the vegetable and flower beds. All at the right time, of course. I can only recommend getting involved in composting!!!

The photo from Alexandra Terrace reminded me of the movie "Breaking and Entering" with Jude Law and Juliette Binoche, which was filmed there!

Red said...

I highly recommend full cooperation. Landfill sites are in short supply and to put millions of tonnes in one place creates a big problem.Don't put your food waste in your own compost. You will have flies and flies and more flies. Our yard waste is picked up and composted by the city. the city picks up our tin cans , paper and plastics. We also have to separate hazardous materials like batteries , paint etc.

Catalyst said...

Our collection company claims it separates recyclables from the regular garbage. I don't see how they can do that but that's what they claim. If it is "hand done", I can't imagine a much worse job.

Sharon said...

Your photo struck me immediately. I just watched a TV show where that very same street was used in a scene. Composting would not be an option for me where I live. Not unless the complex put something together for the whole place. However, I am pleased that they do offer recycling with two big recycling dumpsters on the property.

Linda Sue said...

I can see how that might be a problem for you guys but there are some great options available for composting, Your plants will be grateful! I am amazed at the litter scattered, so much tobacco smoke and cigarette butts, and the amount of plastic used in London, especially from the grocery. Everything seems to be wrapped in plastic, Maybe that was an EU thing and it might change without that regulation, possibly the only good that might come from BREXIT...who knows. Put your compost bin in Mrs. Cravit's back yard..."just being helpful, Mrs. Cravit"

Lesley UK said...

Hi Steve, thank you so much for your pic of the Alexandra Terrace. St. John's Wood. We've seen it in so many TV programmes, and always wondered where it was. So now we know! But it almost always seems to be portrayed as the homes of criminals or drug dealers etc. I wonder how the real residents feel about it?
As for recycling we do it as much as we possibly can. We compost all our left over food, and everything else goes into the correct bins. At the moment I'm in the middle of an huge declutter so my husband will be making several trips to the dump tomorrow. I must admit though, our greatest contribution to recycling is bottles (empty) Hic! Hic!

jenny_o said...

We've been recycling food (composting) for about thirty years, about five years on our own and then the province mandated it about twenty-five years ago.

If you are putting it in your own composter, yes, avoid meat and fat as it won't break down in most household composters and you'll attract vermin. Layer "green" and "brown" (green is vegetable waste, grass clippings, coffee grounds, while brown is dry or woody plant waste - branches, bark, dry leaves, straw). There are lots of composting websites that will explain further.

If you are using the bin provided, it is less messy if you can capture your scraps in a paper bag or for wetter items, in the kind of box that cereal or crackers come in, if this is permitted.

Composting helps change one's mindset toward food waste as well. I try to cook the amounts needed for one meal or plan for the leftovers. You can't help having some waste, though, so it's good that you now have a way to keep it out of the landfill. Landfills are built to contain waste and keep it from leaching into the surrounding ground, not to provide the conditions for things to break down. I recall reading about a test that was done years into the life of a landfill to see that it was isolating waste - they found food that was still in the conditiion it had been thrown out, I think it was a hot dog they described. Wouldn't want to eat it, but it was still not broken down at all!

It seems that we all have a lot to say about this. It will take you ages to get through our advice :)

Shooting Parrots said...

Much as I approve of and do recycle all the crap we end up with, I'm not sure how we ended up this way. When I was a youngster we just had one dustbin about half the size of the wheelie bins we have today. And yet, strangely enough, it held all the family's waste for collection once a week. Either we waste too much or are given much too much to waste these days.

Alphie Soup said...

I think you have the answer to your food waste in most of the above comments.