Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Composting for Wine Lovers (or Haters)

“I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in my food.” -Unknown

I won’t pretend to be a wine connoisseur. Usually, I’m just happy if I have enough time to relax and enjoy a glass. But every once in a while I’ll open a bottle and (gasp!) not finish the wine. Despite my best efforts, the non-wine drinking portion of my life takes over and the wine goes bad.

Can that old wine be dumped in the compost bin?

Reduce, Redrink, Recycle
Before we get to composting, let me say that old wine can be recorked (or recapped), refrigerated, and consummed within a few days. If you want some great tips on storing wines (including champagne) check out this blog.

Other Uses for Old Wine
For those wines you no longer want to drink you can use them in other ways such as cooking or even bathing (next you’ll be swimming through piles of money Uncle Scrooge style). Follow this link for other ideas on reusing that old chardonnay.

Happy Compost Bugs
Much like beer, wine acts as a compost accelerator for your pile. Wine is full of nitrogen and moisture which will make your compost bugs roar into action. Too much of a good thing can cause moisture issues, so be sure to balance  the wine with dry materials until your pile is like a wrung out sponge.

Even this time of year, your compost pile will drink up your cast offs.  

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and less wasteful New Year. Happy 2014, everyone!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Why a compost bin isn’t a great gift

(A guest post from Michelle's coworker, Megan)
Yes, I ♥ Compost. And since you are reading this blog, I’m going to assume that most of you do too. During this holiday season of giving, we’d all like to share our love of composting with our friends and family. But today I’m going to share why a compost bin really isn’t a great gift.

Now, before I get ahead of myself I need to admit that, yes, I have given a compost bin as a gift. It was to my little brother for his graduation from medical school. What do you possibly give to a very particular newly minted doctor? Well, I knew he was moving into a house and he’s also very eco-conscious. He had also taken an interest in the composting going on at my house. So I was certain the compost bin would get some good use.  

But let’s consider this a special circumstance. There’s an exception to every rule, right?

A few years ago when the Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District was still holding the annual compost bin sale, a friend of mine purchased 10 compost bins with the thought of giving them as gifts. Despite her best intentions, most of those compost bins are still hanging around her house waiting to be filled with food scraps, leaves and coffee grounds.

Here are five reasons why a compost bin isn’t a great gift:
  • It’s too preachy: Sharing information and tips to help folks be more environmentally-savvy may be well-natured, but it may come across as eco-bullying. 
  • It could be wasteful: Just think of that sad compost bin, sitting there empty.
  • It might not be the bin of their dreams: Even if the receiver wants to start composting, they may have space limitations or would like to use a certain type of compost bin. Unless you know their plans ahead of time, you may end of giving a compost bin that they don’t want to use.
  • It could seem more like punishment than a gift: Ever given someone a vacuum or exercise equipment? Yikes. Just because we all love composting, doesn’t mean everyone does. Giving a compost bin as a gift might make the receiver feel inadequate or judged. This goes back to our eco-bullying point.
  • All the same reasons you shouldn’t give someone a pet as a gift. Cute, but you get the idea.

If you’d like to encourage your friends and family to start composting, consider giving a gift certificate to a store where they can pick out their own compost bin. That way they can get the compost bin that suites their style, or something else if they just haven’t caught the composting bug.

Happy holidays from all of us composters at Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District!