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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

You Probably Have One of These at Home


I recently ran across a post comparing compost pails.  The author had decided it was high time to replace her old one, which was the kind with holes in the top and a charcoal filter.  It was broken down and not doing a great job keeping the smells down, so she replaced it with another lidded compost pail.

Actually, it's the lid on compost pails that makes what's in them stink.  Vegetable matter rotting in an anaerobic environment smells bad because the bacteria needed for breaking it down also need air- so without it, they die and rot as well.  It's why the gas we pass stinks (and why we have it in the first place), and how methane digesters create methane, and why an improperly aerated compost pile will smell like garbage.   Vegetable matter rotting in an aerobic environment doesn't stink, which is why your compost pile doesn't stink if it's aerated properly.

I used to keep kitchen scraps in a lidded yogurt container until I couldn't stand going out to the compost pile nearly every day, sometimes twice, usually in the rain.  And I couldn't stand the smell anymore. I nearly ordered one of those fancy compost pails online, but decided that part of the problem would still be there- it would smell bad- and also because I honestly couldn't decide which one I wanted.  But I had to do something, so I recycled a gallon milk container by cutting straight down behind the opening so that I could leave on the handle, and then straight out to the front of the jug. It's nice because the handle makes carrying it a cinch, plus it also makes a nice backer so things don't go all over the wall when I toss them in.  It washes up okay, doesn't stink, and the price was right: $0.  And I'm reusing the carton (well, most of the carton).  And I've said it before, and I'll say it again: reuse is the most energy-efficient form of recycling there is.

It's certainly not the most glamorous thing to sit out on the counter, but anybody visiting will get the idea of how things are at our house pretty quickly. Now that you know all this, and even if you don't try my compost pail, you should probably go out and turn your compost pile.  And don't feel bad- mine needs it too.

1 comment:

Toni aka irishlas said...

I tried turning the compost piles outside last week and the fork was met with a resistance like concrete! It was frozen in the middle!
I think the milk jug is a good idea, especially since the handle part is still attached. Easy transport!