Feeling discouraged about solid waste? Try composting | Editorial

Most of us are frustrated with the current condition of our solid waste department. Recently enacted gate fees and talk of closing down the Lopez and San Juan stations has sparked a fire of controversy in our communities. Many feel that our local values of “reduce, reuse, recycle” are getting lost in the wake of budgetary constraints.

So is there anything we can do, today, that can help? At a recent solid waste forum in Eastsound, a very real solution was brought to the table: composting. The recent solid waste county-wide survey showed that 59 percent of households currently have some form of a composting system. That is a great percentage, but we want to see it increase.

Composting offers resource efficiency and creates a useful product from organic waste that would otherwise have been landfilled. And the list is surprising. This is what you can put in a compost bin: animal manure, cardboard rolls, clean paper, coffee grounds and filters, cotton rags, dryer and vacuum cleaner lint, eggshells, fireplace ashes, fruits and vegetables, grass clippings, hair and fur, hay and straw, houseplants, leaves, nut shells, sawdust, shredded newspaper, tea bags, wood chips, wool rags, and yard trimmings.

The finished compost product can be applied to lawns and gardens to help condition the soil and replenish nutrients.

Getting started is easy. Materials like chicken wire, bricks, and buckets are all it takes to begin composting. We recommend a stainless steel container with a lid for the kitchen counter, and then transferring it over to the large bin outside. Maintenance is not hard either: regular mixing or turning and a little water can ensure success.

To learn how to create your own compost pile, visit the Orcas Library or go to epa.gov