Wednesday, August 13, 2014


As our daughter prepares to go to college next week, she's been leaving little works of art around the apartment in order to leave her mark. That would have been fine had she left it there. But as far as she was concerned, we were lacking in one important department.

"So when are you guys going to start composting?"

"I'm already composting," I replied, not without a little self-satisfaction. "I throw it in the garbage."

"No, that's throwing it in the garbage!" she retorted unnecessarily.

It's a scam, that's what it is.
She'd been on this composting kick for about a month, but it wasn't until a few days ago she got some back-up from Mom. I had already sealed my fate by mentioning that the grocery store sold compostable bags. 

Knowing that it was useless to put up a fight when I'm outgunned 2-1, I offered to drop by Bed, Bath & Beyond for a composting container to put next to the kitchen trash can.

You think I'd get an, "Aw honey, that's so sweet of you!" from my wife. Boy, was I wrong. I was duly informed that we were to put the composting in the freezer.

Ah, yes. There's nothing like garbage nestling next to the ice cubes to add just the right tang to frozen margaritas. Fortunately, my wife suggested we pack the bag-filled swill inside the plastic containers that we use for leftovers. The leftovers, presumably, would go in garbage bags.

Trust me, this is the work of a $100/hr
composting stylist.
I was stunned to see how quickly the containers filled up. I was going to wait until next Saturday to drop off this crap at the weekend greenmarket a few blocks away, but felt obliged to bike down to the Union Square Greenmarket on 17th and Park a few days ago. I wasn't alone, for the plastic compost can was positively filled to the brim with corn husks, coffee grounds (ethically sourced, no doubt), and rotten fruits and vegetables. It was stomach-churning, to say the least.

The composting crowd, by the way, can't even decide what counts as compostable. Meat, bones, dairy? Yes, say some, jumping up and down, clapping their hands giddily. You can even compost paper towels, napkins, wet newspapers and pizza boxes!

No, finger-wag others, all that stuff is garbage with a capital G. What's a novice composter to do?

Since it was only two days worth of frozen slop I had dropped off, a new plan of action was required; otherwise, we'd be going through all the plastic containers. My wife suggested our metal serving bowl that we usually use for pasta. This worked well, until the time came to actually remove the offal-filled bag, since it had frozen solid to the bowl. 

In trying to remove it, first by pouring hot water on it, then by simply pulling it out, I tore the bag open, thus necessitating the use of another one. This didn't seem very ecological to me. It was only as I write this that I realized I could have composted the first bag instead of throwing it out. Old habits are hard to break.

This morning, I biked to the greenmarket at 99th and Madison. As I dropped our rejectamenta into the proper container, I realized that by obsessively putting our scraps into compostable bags, then biking to these greenmarkets to drop it off, I had become what I had always made fun of. Just because I'm a do-gooder doesn't mean I have to like it.


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