Thursday, June 25, 2009


He's right. San Francisco is officially insane.

Didn't want to read the link? OK, in a nutshell, you can be fined if you don't compost your waste.

Compost? Urban dwellers composting? Exactly how much of my "waste"? What is compost, anyway? And how will they know? Princess Myrtle tells me that there are fewer and fewer journalism jobs available these days; perhaps those investigative reporters' garbage picking skills can be put to use once more.

Political and philosophical rants aside, the notion that apartment-types will suddenly begin to keep kitchen scraps under their sinks strikes me as ridiculous. For example: banana peels begin to smell while they're still on the overripe bananas. Saving them for compost isn't going to make them any more fragrant than unpeeling one before you leave for a week's vacation and coming back to a garbage can that announces its presence with authority. There are lots of trendy containers for storing scraps, but only gadget freaks (like me) will spend money to have one. Plastic bags? They are toxic for our environment in so many many ways; do we need to figure out one more use for them?

And who will do the extracting of the material from those bags? Recycling plants can be clean and interesting places (the one in Marin was a 5th grade field trip) but creating compost requires some gooey stuff, too. But not all kinds of gooey stuff. Meat products are unacceptable, and their inclusion could ruin an entire compost pile. Separating the green from the brown is just one part of the process. And it has to be done right.

Don't get me wrong for an instant. Compost is beautiful. I'm serious. I once compared TBG's flourless chocolate cake to the compost piles I'd seen the day before in Petaluma and he's still not over the shock. My Marin Master Gardener friends, though, totally got it. The stuff was pretty. It was textured and vibrant and smelled like growing things. The rows stretched out forever (are they turning some Golden Gate Park fields into compost sites?) and each one was different. Only in Marin (ok, Sonoma) - designer compost.

And compost is great for the soil. Vermiculture (worm castings) (ok, worm poop) makes a wonderful soil additive, but there's the little matter of dealing with the worms. It's fun to make compost, and you can do it on your patio with a home turner. Its a nice idea, really it is. It's good for the environment. It can't hurt you and doing it won't make you sick (though if you don't cover your scraps you may attract interest from other members of the animal kingdom). You were never going to do anything else with those used coffee grounds, were you?

But somehow I have a feeling that people who chose to live in The City are less likely to be composting than they are to be buying a riding mower.

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