“The buggies like to eat the icky bananas,” C informs me matter-of-factly as he tosses an overly browned and bruised piece of banana into the little plastic box sitting on our kitchen counter. When we’re done fixing breakfast, we’ll take the plastic box outside and dump the “icky banana” and the rest of the breakfast leftovers (strawberry caps, eggshells, etc) into the compost bin. Sometimes we’ll give it a few turns with our firepit poker, and, if it’s going to rain that day, we might leave the lid off.
This fall marks one year since our family started composting our kitchen scraps, and it’s been an educational as well as surprisingly enjoyable process! While we do maintain a small garden, we are by no means farmers, so we have no need of giant heaps of compost at our disposal every year. But we do get loads of leaves in our yard every fall that would previously have been bagged and put out in the street, and we have plenty of kitchen scraps that would previously have just gone into the trash can. Added up over the course of a year, we’ve not only sent far less trash to the street for collection, but have earned ourselves plenty of nutrient-rich “food” for our garden!
Do we put ALL of our brown leaves, and ALL of our grass clippings in the bin? Of course not – our solitary 3x3x4 bin is not nearly adequate for that amount of materials! But every little bit helps, and the important thing is that we are teaching (and modeling) to our son the importance of taking care of our environment in little ways. He can see that the large bowl of potato peelings would have taken up a lot of room in our trash can, but will “disappear” in a few weeks if we put them in the compost bin. He also knows that the apple core we tossed in on our way out the door will eventually become rich, dark “dirt” that we can put in our garden. And he of course LOVES watching the “buggies” do their thing!
The message is important, the science behind the process is educational, and the process itself is as easy or complex as you want it to be! We bought a basic compost bin at Lowe’s and away we went! Despite having used it constantly for almost a year, I am amazed at how the quickly the decomposition process “shrinks” everything we put in there – those buggies must have quite the appetite!
Any other families out there gotten bit by the composting bug (figuratively speaking of course ;)) If so, I’d love to know how the process works for your family! And for those of you that are interested in getting started, you can find plenty of resources about the ins and outs of composting with kids online - here and here are both good places to start!