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Compost

I touched on the significance of composting your food waste instead of throwing it away in Tip#2, Make Less Trash. By composting fruit and vegetable food scraps you can easily reduce your trash production and make your own soil. In fact one statistic says that an average person creates 1,500 pounds of rubbish a year but someone who composts only produces 375 pounds of rubbish! See Build a Compost and Home Composting: Making Gold from Kitchen Scraps for detailed composting information.

At my house, we have for many years been composting and vermicomposting, which means feeding our food waste to worms in exchange for rich soil that is great for the garden. Recently we starting keeping track of how much food was ending up in the compost container on the kitchen counter. In an average week at my house of 7 people, we had almost 23 pounds of compostable materials leftover from our meals. That means, from my household alone, in the course of a year, close to 1200 pounds of food scraps are not ending up the rubbish can, or the landfill.

We keep our compost making simple. Whatever fruit and vegetable scraps we have left over after making and eating meals goes into a large plastic container with a latching lid. Every one to two days the container is full so it is taken out to our compost pile in the backyard. The stuff from the container is layered with shredded newspapers, dry plant material, and soil. The pile gets well watered once or twice a week. Every month or so the pile is turned--simply shoveled from its current location to another spot a few feet away. The stuff that is on top of the pile ends up on the bottom of the pile after turning. With the anticipation of spring and summer gardening we picked up a dozen bags of horse manure from a local stable and mixed that into our compost pile as well.

When the food scraps and other materials are broken down the soil is transferred from the compost pile to the garden. The most recent soil that came from our compost produced a bountiful salad bed where we go to cut young leaves off a variety of leafy green plants for the freshest, most "local" and most organic bowl of salad you could ask for. See my bountiful garden here: Watch the Gabbard Garden Grow.

If you don't garden, you should still try to create a compost pile in your yard and just let your fruit and vegetable scraps break down. If you cover the food stuff with enough shredded newspapers, dry plant material, or soil there should be no odor. If you don't have a yard you can still compost and create great soil for houseplants. A bucket on your lanai can be your compost pile.

If half the people in Hawai'i composted their food stuff instead of throwing it away, hundreds of millions of pounds of what some people consider to be opala, would not be dumped into our landfills. Trash made up of fruit and vegetable materials is not "waste" at all; it is the potential for rich soil to feed the plants that make our island home lush and green.