Free compost from Starbucks (anytime)

October 14, 2009

You know, it amazes me each the amount of money Americans will spend to speed up the course of nature. There’s a great Wall Street Journal article online about a new generation of compost bins that takes the time and work out of biodegrading food scraps. And I’m in total agreement that turning a compost pile is a big pain in the hiney. Which is why for several years we’ve been vermicomposting (that is, composting with worms) in the back yard, in a repurposed plastic storage tub with air holes (price: free) supplied with shredded newspapers and red wigglers from Paul’s Bait and Tackle in South City, where we’re proud members of the Worm Club (buy 10 containers, get the 11th free).

Back on the farm where I grew up, my mom would simply bury the fruit and veggie scraps in the garden and let the worms have at it. While I disliked the chore of digging holes for it, especially when the ground got cold and hard, it was an absolutely free way to generate compost with no follow-on work needed.

One trend the article mentions is certain cities’ mandating that residents separate their “bio,” as we call compostable material in my house, as they do their recycling and place it in separate curbside bins. This sounds like rocket science on a municipal level, but when we moved to a German apartment in 1998, the system was well in place, and though it was voluntary, it was socially taboo to use up communal general refuse space with your “bio.”

So while I’m happy about anything that encourages people to compost their own waste — or at least separate it for the city to haul away — I’m a little bemused that some of these units use electricity to make compost. Doesn’t that sort of defeat the “green” purpose?

And now for the moment you’ve all been reading for … yes, Starbucks does indeed offer 5-pound bags of used coffee grounds for free under the tagline “Grounds for Your Garden.”

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