A few years ago, my wife and I, good little liberal arts grads that we are, started composting stuff from the kitchen (broccoli stems, carrot tops, etc).
I build a little cedar composting bin in the backyard where we would dutifully empty the little countertop bin we bought once a week.
Nothing ever turned into compost. It just sat there. Granted, I did not turn it enough, and I didn’t spend a lot of time watering it, and measuring out exact bits of this and that to add to it. I understand that composting is chemistry, but it’s also a very poor return on time investment the way we do it.
And then I watched video on youtube where a guy said basically “Stop putting garbage in your composter. Compost leaves and only leaves and you’ll be fine.”
This is easy. Leaves are easy to get outside because they’re already there. A few times running the lawnmower in November with the bag attachment on and you get all the free leaves you want.
You’re middle-class neighbors will be happy to give you theirs, too, because they like nice green lawns. It’s weird.
Anyway, so I stopped composting everything except coffee grounds and egg-shells and just do leaves now.
But it takes time, especially if you don’t want to do a lot of work besides just piling the leaves up in some chicken-wire enclosures once a year. It takes about 2 years for the leaves to break down into really good compost (or less, if you’re willing to turn it a lot, which, uh, I’m not).
So you have to plan ahead.
But it’s weird to me that everyone doesn’t do this. Like, I understand that gardening takes time, but pretty much everyone I know grew up, went to college, got married, has kids, and lives in a house (everyone I know from college lives Leave It to Beaver lifestyles but pretends they’re Patty Hurst raging agains the machine on Facebook). So, they all have spots in their backyards where they could put in a raised bed or two and throw some tomatoes and cucumbers and peas and teach their kids where food comes from.
Sun is free. Rain is free. Dirt is free. Leaves are free. You can literally plant the seeds from vegetables you buy at the store instead of throwing them away. So, I mean, the wood for the bed might be an investment, but it’s not that much.
Time-wise, gardening doesn’t have to be super intensive. Sure, if you’re competing in a life and death struggle for survival against aphids or whatever, you might need to put in some elbow-grease. But there’s plenty of planting methods that essentially eliminate (or don’t care about) weeding, so really all you have to do is plant a bunch of seeds and then see what grew in a few months if that’s all you wanted to do.
Anyway, this is a political blog, so I should talk about conservation for a while.
Today on NPR I heard a story about some evangelical preacher who was part of some environmental thingie.
And like, yeah, it made sense to me, but that’s always been part of the Christian ethos. Respect for life includes respect for where people are living, and being good stewards of God’s creation seems like a no-brainer.
It’s weird. I watched Captain Planet as a kid and all of the villains were evil, greedy corporations, and today, my friends on the left essentially think that all Republicans and corporations (who donate more D than R, but, like, whatevs…) are hell bent on raping mother earth.
Which just seems really at odds with the Conservatives I do know, who generally seem to be thrifty, which is the heart of environmentalism.
I mean, when it comes to taking care of the environment, for some reason I tend to trust the rural voters who, like, actually live in the environment rather than the people who live in cities and never have to mow a lawn, trim a shrub, or harvest a turnip.
Anyway, I’ve posted before about how capitalism is really just the theory that people should be free to turn raw materials into more valuable finished ones that they then get to keep.
So to me, investing in the work to collect and compost leaves isn’t environmentalism–it’s capitalism.
But maybe it’s both?