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DocLightning
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Urban Composting: Maybe Not Such A Hot Idea

Tue Jul 15, 2008 10:38 pm

So one thing I was really excited about in moving to SF was the urban composting program. Basically, you have a green bin. You put all your compostables in the bin and they pick it up once a week. Great, right?

Well, I overlooked one small detail: now I have a compost bin outside my apartment building. It stinks. There are black flies the size of small sparrows coming in my windows all the time. The smell can get nauseating. And even once emptied, the bin still stinks and still attracts the flies.

Did I mention the stink and the flies?  Wink

So yeah, I think urban composting isn't such a great idea, after all.

My alternative is this: In-sink garbage disposal. See, the entire idea of composting is to return organic matter to the biosphere, rather than burying it in a landfill where it sits and does nothing. An in-sink disposal reduces organic waste to tiny particles that can then be easily broken down by bacteria or filter feeders and returned to the biosphere. It's also more convenient and it doesn't cause stink and flies.

So I won't be composting. I'll be throwing it down the drain with the grinder on.
-Doc Lightning-

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
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ScarletHarlot
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RE: Urban Composting: Maybe Not Such A Hot Idea

Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:17 am

We have this same service outside of Seattle, and I love it. But since we are in a house, and since we have a yard and I have to mow it...we have grass clippings between which I can sandwich the paper bags full of food waste. It doesn't smell if the lid is closed, although I did find out that if you empty a large container of expired yogurt into it without much yard waste in it, it will develop mould.

It also doesn't seem to attract flies or anything. Can you get a bin that is more airtight?
But that was when I ruled the world
 
MaidensGator
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RE: Urban Composting: Maybe Not Such A Hot Idea

Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:18 am



Quoting DocLightning (Thread starter):
Did I mention the stink and the flies?

The rats probably only come out at night when you can't see them....  Cool
The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.
 
Dougloid
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RE: Urban Composting: Maybe Not Such A Hot Idea

Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:20 am

You're killin' me Doc.

Back in the day when I lived in Jersey they had Stan and Floss Dworkin the plant people on TV doing the "compost your apartment waste" thing in NYC. I can imagine that went over like a turd in a punchbowl with the neighbors.

As a practical matter composting works better if you're running a regular compost pile to recycle stuff for your rooftop garden which is what Stan and Floss Dworkin were doing in a small way on the fire escape. If you have a regular system of turning the stuff with a potato fork and putting a layer of dirt on top of it when you make a deposit it shouldn't smell too bad.

What you're describing is something different-it's just rotting garbage. Not only that you're finding out what Tom Sawyer's friends knew all about when it comes to painting fences for others.

Oh well. It's a brave new world you wanted? You're welcome to it.

Signed

Your pals in the midwest.
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
MD11Engineer
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RE: Urban Composting: Maybe Not Such A Hot Idea

Wed Jul 16, 2008 5:30 am

I live in a village, so no organised organic waste disposal, but I have two compost boxes in the garden. It mainly depends on WHAT you throw into them. I only throw in raw plant matter, like gardening waste or vegetable food waste (uncooked). The only animal matter I throw in are egg shells (to help to adjust the pH-value).
I NEVER throw in meat or cooked foods, because they cause a stink and attract rats. Waste of this kind goes into the regular rubbish bin (which is being emptied every two weeks).
The compost from my garden getsused by me as a fertilizer for my vegetable beds.

Jan
Je Suis Charlie et je suis Ahmet aussi
 
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DocLightning
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RE: Urban Composting: Maybe Not Such A Hot Idea

Wed Jul 16, 2008 7:59 am



Quoting MD11Engineer (Reply 4):
I live in a village, so no organised organic waste disposal, but I have two compost boxes in the garden. It mainly depends on WHAT you throw into them. I only throw in raw plant matter, like gardening waste or vegetable food waste (uncooked). The only animal matter I throw in are egg shells (to help to adjust the pH-value).
I NEVER throw in meat or cooked foods, because they cause a stink and attract rats. Waste of this kind goes into the regular rubbish bin (which is being emptied every two weeks).
The compost from my garden getsused by me as a fertilizer for my vegetable beds.

See, you can compost meat, but you need a huge compost pile. That's what SF is doing.

But the problem is that until it gets into that huge, communal compost pile, it's just rotting garbage sitting outside for a week.

And I have to keep the windows on that side of my apartment closed or blackflies the size of A380's use my apartment as a holding pattern.
-Doc Lightning-

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
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Dougloid
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RE: Urban Composting: Maybe Not Such A Hot Idea

Wed Jul 16, 2008 4:38 pm



Quoting DocLightning (Reply 5):
And I have to keep the windows on that side of my apartment closed or blackflies the size of A380's use my apartment as a holding pattern.

You can always make the flies go to fly heaven with a deft application of Sevin. Of course the eco-Nazis wouldn't like that if they caught you but whatchoo gonna do?

That's why I got kicked out of the public gardens in Long Beach.

Is there not some sort of health issue involved in having to live next to a rotting garbage pile Doc? Did the deopartment of health, and city sanitarian sign off on the plan? Is there any rule, regulation or other official pronunciamento that says the garbage bin has to be right where it is? And does Gruesome Newsome have a smelly unsanitary garbage heap next to HIS kitchen window?
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
ScarletHarlot
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RE: Urban Composting: Maybe Not Such A Hot Idea

Wed Jul 16, 2008 4:45 pm

You can always try one of these. I have one in my kitchen, under my sink. I line it with a paper bag and it collects food waste for up to a week for us. Might work for you too, Doc.

http://www.gardeners.com/Odor-Free%2...0Pail/20707,30-708,default,cp.html

But that was when I ruled the world
 
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N328KF
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RE: Urban Composting: Maybe Not Such A Hot Idea

Wed Jul 16, 2008 4:48 pm

I don't know about most municipalities, but I figure I'm doing just as well by the environment by throwing waste organic material down the garbage disposal. Sure, it goes through the sewer system, but it then winds up being collected at treatment plants where it gets sold off for use as fertilizer, at least in my area. Much easier than composting.
“In the age of information, ignorance is a choice.”
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SlamClick
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RE: Urban Composting: Maybe Not Such A Hot Idea

Wed Jul 16, 2008 5:10 pm



Quoting DocLightning (Thread starter):
urban composting

Sounds like a great idea. We all know landfills are a bad idea. California has drastically reduced its use of landfills. In fact the most active landfills in California are in Nevada which obligingly agreed to take medical waste along with the coffee grounds. So how's it working?

Quoting DocLightning (Thread starter):
You put all your compostables in the bin and they pick it up once a week.

Ah well, see, there's the problem. Too many Democrats. Republicans actually know how to do practical things, "handy" things. Too bad you don't have some of them to draw on.  Smile

Quoting DocLightning (Thread starter):
I have a compost bin outside my apartment building. It stinks.

Yes, decomposition does stink.

Quoting DocLightning (Thread starter):
There are black flies the size of small sparrows coming in my windows all the time.

Ah yes, part of nature's sanitation squad. Got flies? Expect maggots. It's okay, it is all part of the process.

How do you like it so far?

Quoting DocLightning (Thread starter):
Did I mention the stink and the flies?

Oh, sorry about that.
Well, it is high summer. The stench won't be so bad and there won't be so many flies in the winter. Of course the composting kind of goes dormant then too, but at least we are moving in the right direction here. California is paving the world's best farmland (Sacramento Valley) at a higher rate than the Amazon rainforest is being denuded but to maintain the pretense of "caring" you sure need to do something. I, for one, truly appreciate the sacrifices you are making.

Quoting DocLightning (Thread starter):
My alternative is this: In-sink garbage disposal.

Actually we really, really REALLY need to rethink waste and sewage disposal in this country. I've toured sewage treatment plants in Orange County. They were technological marvels (mostly low tech) and huge facilities, but soCal still dumps A LOT of untreated sewage directly into the ocean. You might not have known that but they do. Next departure off the 25s at LAX, sit on the left side at a window seat. You will see a "brown upwell" about a thousand yards offshore, just south of the airport. That's right folks - sewage. We produce it and we have to do something with it.

Orange county hauls the solid "sludge" from the sewage treatment plants, up to [in the not too distant past anyway] a special landfill in the Irvine Hills. The landfill produces "volunteer" tomatoes from undigested seeds enough to feed the homeless of Orange County but we have these health regs to deal with.

I spread some of the dried "sludge" on my lawn in Encinitas once. The lawn got so green you could see where every shovelfull landed. We need to solve the dumbass little health issues and USE THAT STUFF.

I've tried composting here in Nevada but lack of water is an issue. I got restaurant egg shells and coffee grounds aplenty and created a couple of cubic yards of the best topsoil you ever saw. (unless you are afraid of foot-long earthworms as I was) Where I live now, twenty year old grass clippings are still green beneath the top layer. No composting without water!

Quoting DocLightning (Thread starter):
An in-sink disposal reduces organic waste to tiny particles that can then be easily broken down by bacteria or filter feeders and returned to the biosphere.

Have you some means of extracting the semi-solid matter or does it just go to the sewage treatment plant?

Quoting Dougloid (Reply 6):
a deft application of Sevin

A quicker, more sure-fire solution than waiting for a city council to compost (I mean consider) the problem and its solution. Unfortunately man-made molecules a yard long are probably not good things to introduce into the [he chokes on the word] biosphere.
Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
 
767Lover
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RE: Urban Composting: Maybe Not Such A Hot Idea

Wed Jul 16, 2008 5:46 pm

Isn't composting about to become mandatory in SF? That should be fun. If the piss and feces in Golden Gate Park isn't reason enough not to visit, the rotting compost bins everywhere should do the trick.
 
Dougloid
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RE: Urban Composting: Maybe Not Such A Hot Idea

Wed Jul 16, 2008 7:01 pm



Quoting SlamClick (Reply 9):
Quoting Dougloid (Reply 6):
a deft application of Sevin

A quicker, more sure-fire solution than waiting for a city council to compost (I mean consider) the problem and its solution. Unfortunately man-made molecules a yard long are probably not good things to introduce into the [he chokes on the word] biosphere.

Sevin's pretty good stuff and it's relatively safe. It degrades quickly and you can eat tomatoes dusted with sevin in....seven days. Unless you like eating tomato hornworms.

http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/facts-sl...es-self/facts/gen-pubre-sevin.html
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
SlamClick
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RE: Urban Composting: Maybe Not Such A Hot Idea

Wed Jul 16, 2008 7:07 pm



Quoting Dougloid (Reply 11):
Unless you like eating tomato hornworms

Ga rrossss
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Superfly
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RE: Urban Composting: Maybe Not Such A Hot Idea

Wed Jul 16, 2008 7:23 pm

Hardly anyone uses the composting green bins anymore.
That was a great 'idea' but many stopped for the reasons you indicated.
I use my garbage disposal instead.
Bring back the Concorde
 
dan2002
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RE: Urban Composting: Maybe Not Such A Hot Idea

Wed Jul 16, 2008 10:11 pm



Quoting SlamClick (Reply 9):

Orange county hauls the solid "sludge" from the sewage treatment plants, up to [in the not too distant past anyway] a special landfill in the Irvine Hills. The landfill produces "volunteer" tomatoes from undigested seeds enough to feed the homeless of Orange County but we have these health regs to deal with.

I spread some of the dried "sludge" on my lawn in Encinitas once. The lawn got so green you could see where every shovelfull landed. We need to solve the dumbass little health issues and USE THAT STUFF.

The dewatered sludge from the sewage treatment plant I work at would make a terrible fertilizer, because by the time it hits the dewatering process most of the nutrients that would help your garden are gone. Then the sludge is incinerated and the heat generated is used to heat the boilers we have. I believe the only thing we haul away are skimmings and the grit.
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Superfly
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RE: Urban Composting: Maybe Not Such A Hot Idea

Wed Jul 16, 2008 10:36 pm



Quoting 767Lover (Reply 10):
Isn't composting about to become mandatory in SF?

No.
Very few people use it.
Those who use it the most are the hippies in the Haight Ashbury area.

Composting is a breeding ground for rats.
People realized that early on.
When the city started implementing the program back in 2002, I did it for like 3 weeks and that was it.
Bring back the Concorde
 
ThePRGuy
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RE: Urban Composting: Maybe Not Such A Hot Idea

Wed Jul 16, 2008 10:46 pm



Quoting Superfly (Reply 15):
Composting is a breeding ground for rats.

Here in the UK composting is not at all commonplace - unless you have a compost heap in your back garden, or more likely a specially made compost bin (like we do).

We stick all veg waste and stuff in there (never meat), and it composts slowly and we then tip it on the garden about 3 months later.

Then again, we get shit weather here most of the time, as apposed to blazing sunshine - breeding ground for stinking piles of shite.

I hear your problem.
Heathrow has been described as the only building site to have its own airport.
 
767Lover
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RE: Urban Composting: Maybe Not Such A Hot Idea

Wed Jul 16, 2008 10:50 pm



Quoting Superfly (Reply 15):
Quoting 767Lover (Reply 10):
Isn't composting about to become mandatory in SF?

No.
Very few people use it.
Those who use it the most are the hippies in the Haight Ashbury area.

Well, according to this, it may still become law this year.

San Francisco closes the lid on garbage
Recycling and composting expected to be mandatory by year's end

By Jacoba Charles

In San Francisco, a city that prides itself on being green, residents soon may find themselves required by law to compost and recycle. The proposed law, called for by Mayor Gavin Newsom, is expected to be approved by the Board of Supervisors by the end of the year.

Though the city has already achieved the nation’s highest recycling rates, diverting 70 percent of its trash from landfills, city officials say that the mandatory program is necessary to reach their target of 75 percent recycling by 2010.

The rest of the story is here:
http://www.plentymag.com/features/2008/06/recyling_san_francisco.php


To me, it seems like smoke and mirrors to make people feel like they are doing something worthwhile. A person who really wants to really make a difference by composting would do it themselves with the dirt layers, etc. Otherwise, it's basically nothing more than setting out your trash.
 
Superfly
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RE: Urban Composting: Maybe Not Such A Hot Idea

Wed Jul 16, 2008 10:51 pm



Quoting ThePRGuy (Reply 16):
Then again, we get shit weather here most of the time, as apposed to blazing sunshine - breeding ground for stinking piles of shite.

Our weather here in San Francisco is very similar to England, but not as cold in the winter.
We get more fog than London.
Bring back the Concorde

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