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By LaVerne C. Paulson

Fri, Apr 19th, 2013
Posted in All Agriculture

LaVerne C. Paulson

Recycling Education Coordinator

New Year’s Day is long gone, but most likely many of you have found a couple ways to improve one or two of your recycling habits. When we discuss recycling in Fillmore County, we are usually concerned with glass, plastic, paper, or metal. Today’s article is about recycling something a bit different. Every day, a majority of you deposit something in your garbage can that can be recycled, will cut down on your landfill waste, and make your lawns and gardens much happier and healthier. Yes, it is true that composting different forms of kitchen, office, and yard waste will seriously cut down on your landfill donations as well as trips to the local dump to get rid of grass, leaves, twigs, and many garden weeds.

All you need to get started is a large, plastic garbage can or a container that looks like a garbage can. You can purchase a ready made bin, make your own, or you can maintain a working pile of composting material without a container. You also will need green stuff (some grass clippings, some types of weeds, and kitchen scraps), brown stuff (perhaps some dry leaves other than walnut, egg shells, moldy hay, straw, a bit of rotted manure from a vegetarian animal, shredded paper if it can be contained in a bin, paper egg cartons, and possibly some small sticks or twigs.) You will also need plenty of water for moisture and lots of air to supply oxygen to the material. Any forms of dairy products, and all meat scraps and bones should not be used in the making of compost, because they can attract unwanted vermin. Cat and dog feces not only smell bad, but contain nasty bacteria and other not-so-nice organisms that you don’t want in your gardens.

You will have to stir or mix the contents every week or so, and in about a year, you will have some excellent material to spread on your lawn, mix with your garden soil, or feed to your plants. Many people call the finished product “black gold” because it is a rather precious material. Please consider adding composting to your recycling habits. Here in Fillmore County, the outdoor composting process shuts down during cold weather, but you can still store your compostables in your container until spring. There is a lot of information on line dealing with composting or you can contact me and I will be glad to give you or your group ideas on getting started. You can also compost with red worms that can live in a container in your basement, eat their weight in kitchen waste every day, and turn many of your kitchen scraps into an excellent soil additive.

Once you begin composting, you will notice how little household garbage you really have. When you see how much composting material you add to your bin or pile, you may also change your shopping habits and purchase smaller amounts and discard less due to spoilage or expiration dates. Jonathan Bloom, a journalist for American Wasteland, has determined that food waste including spoiled food, discarded edible food, or discarded fresh and packaged foods with expired “use by” and “best by” dates cost the average family of four $1365 to $2275 each year. If you shop a bit more wisely, you may be able to save two or three dollars a day in groceries.

According to the Minnesota Composting Council and Blue Bag Organics, plants grown in compost-rich soils require less water because of the increased infiltration and storage capacity of root systems and the reduction of water runoff, evaporation, and water usage by weeds. Research has shown that the application of compost can reduce the need for water by thirty to seventy percent. Think about giving composting a try. It doesn’t smell bad and will reduce your landfill garbage considerably. You may even find that some of your neighbors will make donations to your bin to get rid of their compostable material.

After seeing the large green and white boxes found throughout the county, several people have asked if the Salvation Army containers are still here at the Recycling Center. The answer is “Yes”, and they are still being used a lot. Please remember, if you want the Salvation Army to get your used clothing, belts, shoes, purses, bedding, rugs, or curtains, the containers here at the Recycling Center should be used. Stained and torn items are accepted by the Salvation Army, but they must be clean and dry. Hundreds of containers have been taken to Rochester during the past year. Fillmore County will continue to provide you with this service.

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