Completing the Circle of Life with Composting
At Annapolis Green we’ve discussed composting in terms of Nature’s circle of life: animals and plants begin life, they mature and flourish, they die, and the remains are returned to the Earth, starting the cycle anew.
This is how things worked for eons before human hubris decided that we know better. Human population growth sparked urbanization and the waste-back-to-the-Earth social norm was warped with the creation of non-biodegradable materials and landfills. We need things to rot, not live in the suspended animation of a landfill, so they can be returned to the Earth. That’s where you come in.
Composting is one way very easy way you can incorporate the Circle of Life into your own life. It’s something you can do, right at home, to mitigate the effects of Climate Change. Landfills produce a huge amount of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming so reducing the amount of food that goes into the landfill reduces the methane produced.
If you don’t want to compost in your backyard or can’t because you’re in a condo or apartment, we have the perfect solution right here in Annapolis. Through the end of March there are bins set up at Truxtun Park (near the skateboard area) into which Annapolis residents can simply dump their compostables – kitchen veggie and fruit scraps, meat, bones, grains and bread, soiled pizza boxes, and compostable cups, plates and flatware, etc. Put the material in as is – not in a plastic bag (just like you do with your recyclables). This is available 24/7 through March 30. It’s a free pilot program we are operating for the City. Read more.
To be clear, nothing breaks down and returns to the Earth in landfills – at least not for hundreds of years. Most landfills are lined with materials that keep anything that may leach from the mountains of mixed trash out of the water table below (a good thing) and the landfills are capped. That makes landfills an anaerobic place – that is, devoid of the oxygen that causes materials to decompose. Some scientists have said that in a few hundred years we’ll still be able to reach newspaper pages from today’s landfills.
We are now in the final month of a pilot program we established with the City of Annapolis whereby Annapolis residents can bring their kitchen cuttings to specially designated bins at Truxtun Park. The material is collected weekly by our partner, Veteran Compost. The company puts the material in to huge piles that get very hot as the decomposition process gets underway. Veteran turns the piles periodically with heavy machinery, makes sure it gets plenty of oxygen with a propriety process, and puts it through a fine sieve. The result – in about two months – is fluffy, sweet-smelling compost… a soil amendment that is perfect for every garden, whether residential or commercial. It is Nature’s fertilizer.
The purpose of the pilot program (funded by a Clean Up & Green Up Maryland grant we obtained from Keep Maryland Beautiful, the Forever Maryland Foundation, Maryland Environmental Trust and the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development), is to find out if Annapolis residents have an appetite for curbside collection of compostables. (The city set up a companion program of curbside collection in the Hunt Meadow neighborhood that will also end this month. It is being operated by Annapolis Compost.)
Since October the Truxtun collection has yielded about 750 pounds each week. Many people drop by at their leisure to put kitchen scraps in the bins thus keeping their trash cans under the sink less messy and without food odors. For you home composters: at Truxtun you can deposit meat, bones, and crab shells – materials that won’t decompose at home. If you haven’t disposed of your food waste in this way yet – give it a try!
The results of the collection and your wishes will determine whether the City goes ahead with a curbside collection program in the future. If you think this is a good idea, you have to let your alderman or alderwoman and the Mayor know or the program will not continue.
Please weigh in on this. Composting is something we can ALL do under this program – even apartment dwellers – for the good of the planet.
Want some of that compost for your spring garden? As a fundraiser, Annapolis Green is selling 15-pound bags of compost (for $10 plus tax), which we call Secret Sauce because of the incredible results you’ll get from your garden with this special amendment. It’s so much better for your garden and for the environment than synthetic, commercial fertilizers.
There are three ways you can buy the Secret Sauce compost:
- K&B True Value, 912 Forest Drive, this weekend, March 11-13
- Chase-Lloyd House, 22 Maryland Avenue during Maryland Day, March 26, 10am to 4pm
- On our website
A final note: We also encourage returning oyster shells to their rightful place – the Bay. But, we encourage doing this in a way that is safe for our favorite bivalve, the Bay’s health, and ours. That means putting the shells in any of the Oyster Recovery Partnership’s collection bins. ORP will take the shells to its facility on the Eastern Shore where they will be dried in the sun for a year to kill any pathogens that might be present. Then, the shells will be put in a huge vat with oyster spat (baby oysters that look like larvae) that are looking for a substrate to which they can attach to meet the requirements of the rest of their lives. Because the oysters population is so low now, oyster shells are like gold. They are desperately needed if we are to revive this depleted population. That means that the landfill is NOT the right place for them and neither is the compost bin.