Monday, September 8, 2008


while harvesting my first round of vermicompost i proudly admired its simplicity, functionality, and beauty. As the worms scurried to the bottom of each pile to escape the sun, we harvested the compost from the uppermost part of each pile. in the end, the worms at the bottom get added back into the original box with new bedding and new kitchen scraps and the process starts all over again.
i also started to think about other types of compost. we had recently run out of compost and needed to purchase a couple of bags to amend the soil in some freshly dug vegetable beds. the quality of the commercial bagged compost paled in comparison to our home-grown vermicompost. i thought of how we had decided to escalate our composting efforts so we would not have to purchase compost in the future and how we had added a new compost box (thanks to our neighbor, ruth) to our yard so we could make use of our large scale yard trimmings that don't make sense in our worm boxes.
then i started to think about a compos(t)able coffee cup (note the missing "t" in the photo) i'd acquired earlier in the day. i usually tote my own cup to our local coffee bar, but this was an unexpected caffeine craving and i arrived unprepared and ill-equipped.
i was told that the disposable cup holding my coffee was compostable, but that we did not have an industrial composting facility in our local area. i began to ponder what that actually meant. what was an industrial composting facility? was it similar in any way to my backyard methods? i had the feeling the answer would not be simple and i was correct. apparently, it is all VERY complicated. i became exhausted after reading through 3 pages of the 187 questions and answers relating to my compostable cup. i found out that my cup cannot be composted in a backyard composting system, but it can be physically recycled, composted through industrial composting, incinerated via waste to energy systems, or chemically recycled back into its base monomer of lactic acid. i also learned that my cup was produced, in part, by dextrose from corn and that corn may or may not have been part of a GM corn crop, most likely a mix of genetically enhanced and conventional corn. i never found an explanation for the missing "t" on my cup (maybe it was part of an irregular cup sale), but i did decide that i would think twice about the value of compostable cups and packaging in my day-to-day life until i had a better understanding of industrial composting and our area opens an appropriate facility. i think i'll continue to carry along my own mug when going out for a mugs are so much prettier than disposable cups.

No comments:

Post a Comment