Is it Easy Being Green?

My daily adventures in attempting an environmentally-friendly lifestyle

Putting on some weight December 18, 2008

compost1Garbage weight, that is. I’ve never noticed the magnitude of my kitchen waste until composting for three years and then going without it. It’s just as impressive to me as the amount of recyclables we accumulate, if not more. Food waste is unavoidable: vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds, moldy leftovers and stale bread seem to fill up our little garbage can every few days. It’s so sad knowing that it’s going to the landfill when it could become beautiful, glorious compost. So, what are my options?

A Bin with a View
Living on the 11th floor of an urban apartment building leaves out the option of having a backyard compost bin. We do have a balcony though, and I’ve been looking into the possibility of setting up a compost bin out there. At first I thought that the critters wouldn’t find a compost bin on a balcony, but I guess where there’s a will, there’s a way. It could be worth trying out on a small scale and see what happens. Using a garbage can with a lid seems like a good option for an apartment balcony. Check out this video that shows you how. But, I wonder if I would be going against some city code…

There’s a Hair in My Dirt
I’ve already mentioned my husband’s opposition to having a worm bin in our apartment. He’s not anti-composting at all (in California he contributed to our food scrap bin just as much as I did) but had a bad worm bin experience years ago when his sister attempted to vermicompost in their apartment. I’ve tried to convince him that I know we can have a worm bin without problems like fruit flies, but he’s still skittish. I still think there’s hope for a worm bin. But there’s also the issue that worm bins can only handle a small amount of food waste, so that wouldn’t completely solve the problem anyway. Meanwhile, I can study my Worm Woman book.

Can Donating Food Waste be a Tax Write-Off?
I’ve been curious about whether there’s a community garden or urban farm out there that is in need of quality food waste for composting. Sure, I would be willing to fill up a kitty litter bucket and deliver it somewhere within a reasonable distance. While at the FamilyFarmed Expo last month, I was thrilled to find out that a really cool local organization called Growing Power is going to start accepting organic waste for its urban farms in Chicago in the spring. I just have to wait a little while and this might turn out to be a great partnership!

Compost Wish List Item
I recently found out about the NatureMill electric composter. This is pretty darn nifty. The only issue I can see (other than the cost at $300 and up–yikes!) is that you have to plug it in, using electrical energy that other methods of composting wouldn’t need. But, they claim that it uses just 5 kwh/month–“less than a garbage truck would burn in diesel fuel to haul the same waste”. Wow, they even have one model that composts pet waste. Is it too late to ask for this for Chrismakkuh?


My top five December 4, 2008

Having finally just read High Fidelity, I thought I would start with a top five list. This will be the kind you check things off of–the good kind. My list consists of some greenish things I’ve had on my mind lately. Some have gone no further than my mind, while others I’ve done a little something about, but not enough. Here we go (in alphabetical order):

1. Composting — I want to compost! Having lived in CA for three years and worked at an environmental education center, I had three, count ’em three, composting options at my fingertips. My workplace had a compost bin, a worm bin and a “green bin” for the municipal organics recycling program. Now in Chicago in a high-rise apartment building with no municipal program, no yard for a compost bin and a husband adamantly opposed to having a worm bin in our home, the options are more limited. I’m going to see what I can do…

2. Dryer Sheets — These are just one of those things that I’ve somehow overlooked. I grew up using them and have just never stopped. I thought I was doing a good thing by not using any of that liquid stuff, and I use the unscented kind. But then I read something about the chemicals in dryer sheets and I suddenly felt like an eco-dummy. What can I replace my beloved dryer sheets, and do I in fact need to make the switch?

3. Food — I do love my food. As Liz Lemon on 30 Rock says in response to the question “Are you hungry?” she replies, “Always!” I’ve been getting more into organics, farmer’s markets, cooking healthy, etc. over the past few years. I recently attended a “locavore” class and an event focused on local farming, and both of those have really motivated me to go local. I want to see how feasible and practical it is to get more local stuff into my shopping repertoire.

4. Plastics — Just when I think I’ve rid my life of the majority of plastics, another plastic container will pop out in front of me. Oh, how they taunt me! Let’s face it, it’s impossible to be completely rid of plastic, but what else is there that I can get rid of or replace that I haven’t yet? I will investigate.

5. Home Air Quality — Just what are those candles that I (used to) enjoy burning putting out into the atmosphere? And even though I’ve been known to kill a few plants, what kind of difference can plants make for air quality in my apartment? Indoor air quality is supposed to sometimes be way worse than outdoor, so what else might be going on at home that affects the air we breathe? And will sniffing the breeze from the chocolate factory a few blocks away make me gain weight?

There’s more where these came from, but that’ll do it for now.