I don’t know about you but I find composting hard. It is a statement that is frustrating given that I count myself among the hardcore, gardener, greenie, pro-compost, happy-to-recycle end of our society.
It’s not the actual process that is hard but it is the lifestyle change that you have to achieve in order to really commit to it that is a challenge. It is almost as bad as dieting — so hard to make the shift.
Consider that first you have to find a mechanism for collecting your organic waste inside your home that isn’t tedious, disgusting, ugly in its implementation or usually, all of the above. Then you have the new chore of regularly transporting said waste to the place where it is going to melt down into soil. Once it is there, you have another new chore — turning it, monitoring it and making sure that it is actually melting down properly. And finally — you get to use it — if you are a gardener.
In our house we struggle at every step. I’ve tried a variety of counter-top and under the sink collecting systems. They all have drawbacks that ultimately lead to an early demise. They are ugly, stinky, and worse – they create clutter in a place where I don’t have much space to begin with. The best, was a small white counter-top ceramic vessel, but it got dropped on the way to the compost heap one day and it hasn’t been replaced.
My compost heap in my vegetable garden — which is about 150 feet from my garage. Half the year it takes trudging through deep snow to get to it and the other half still involves a significant walk trudging a stinky heavy thing — it always draws complaints (particularly from my little people).
Our compost heap is rather large – it is constructed of 2 side by side bins made of recycled pallets – and it has never been turned or used. In every way – it is a big immovable heap. It is melting down, but there is always new stuff on top so the cooking process never seems to end. Maybe now that it is 3 + years old I will find the energy to dig the bottom out from under the top and make some use of what lies beneath. We will see – that sounds tedious and is going to involve significant physical exertion – so don’t hold your breath.
I have begun to consider a new heap — closer to the house that can be used for the next year or so until the old ones fully finish and maybe I can just rake them out — but working these production areas into a garden that you want to be really pretty is another trick. It all makes me want to throw up my hands — and I am pretty sure that most people who actually give this a go feel the same.
All this is to say that I think there needs to be a revolution in the composting industry. People need tools and systems that really work for modern life if they are actually going to pull their organic waste out from the rest of their garbage and create dirt nirvana. What we promote as industry professionals is just too tedious for the masses. Those big rolling things are expensive and ugly. Every system I’ve tried isn’t much of a system at all and they really only work for the hard core type ‘A’ composting people who just can’t imagine not going for a daily 5 mile run.
Enter Daily Dump — which is only in India, but I think it a huge step in the right direction — and one that I would love to see take hold in the USA. For under 10 dollars you can get some fairly attractive version of this.
So you have Gamla pots (which feed your houseplants or patio pots) for 28 days, then you use your stackable Khamba Pots for 28 days, then if you need to, you use the public waste system for 28 days and then you cycle back through. It is a real system that creates usable amounts of compost in quantities that are reasonable for homeowners.
I love the idea of being able to pull out a pot full of compost once a month to share with all my plant friends. This system feel much more manageable and lifestyle oriented. Kind of like the diet that only cuts out a daily soda and after a couple of months you have easily lost 10 lbs.
There is even a book for kids about the magic gamla pot. It takes kids through a journey where some materials in their own homes can turn into magic brown bits that have unique properties to make other things come to life. I want a magic Gamla pot.
I’m curious, do you think this type of thing could take hold in the US? What if Waste Management distributed Gamla pots and stacking Khamba pots in addition to those giant bins for collecting our paper and cans? Would you do it? Would your neighbors? I think it could be a revolution.
all images from Daily Dump