My Recycling Mistake

Compost BinEntering my final months of pregnancy, I thought I was doing pretty well on my journey to becoming more green. Among other things, I've planted herbs and vegetables in a small garden, almost completely stopped my use of disposable water bottles, and have been recycling old furniture and other goods. Not bad for a beginner, right? But as it turns out, I've been missing something really big.

This morning I watched a program on a new environmental channel and realized that I am even more wasteful than I ever thought was possible. To make it even worse, the error of my ways should have been completely obvious! Even a novice environmentalist knows that recyclable products need to be separated from the regular trash and put into special containers for recycling. Everything else goes in the trash, right?

Wrong. I had been under the impression that all of our compostable trash would end up in a landfill and, well, turn into compost or dirt after a period of time, just like in a normal compost heap. I assumed that this dirt couldn't possibly be bad for the environment and yada, yada, yada. But according to the green experts on my television show, 1) it is bad and 2) I've been making it exponentially worse by putting all the compostable material into plastic, non-biodegradable bags which then makes the compostable stuff non-biodegradable as well. It's the same premise as putting grass clippings or leaves into bags that aren't recyclable. I can't believe I've been so thoughtless -- and wasteful. Turns out I've also been incorrectly disposing a ridiculous amount of food and perishable items. So much so that I feel guilty about it, especially after the reality check I had this morning.

If I 1) didn't waste so much food and 2) disposed of this biodegradable matter in a slightly different, more eco-friendly way, I'd be able to reduce my waste (and food budget) by a significant percentage! In retrospect this all seems so obvious, but I didn't see it before. Why not? Maybe because I wasn't focused on the simple things that can make a big impact. So now I am considering the steps I should take to deal with compostable waste. There's even an in-home rapid composting gadget available for those without the outdoor space for a compost heap.

It can be done. Now that I've owned up to this act of environmental ignorance I know I have to make sure I don't stumble down this path again. Being green is a challenge, but it's one I want to face to protect planet home for my baby all of the next generation! photo: Jessica Spengler