Guerrilla Composting with your host Allison LaBonne

I’m a little tea pot

Good morning, hot beverage!

My husband and I each have one cup of green tea every morning.  He sleeps better at night than when we drank coffee.  I bring my own bag or jar to my co-op to buy loose tea leaves.  That way no bag or box trash is left behind.  The pot we use is a simple design with no tea compartment.  The loose leaves just float freely and we strain the tea as it goes into the cup.

through the tea strainer

Trashing the leaves

At our old place, we had a compost bin in the yard.  Since we moved in to our new apartment, tea leaves have to go into the garbage.

our kitchen garbage can

We got rid of our full size kitchen garbage because we generate a modest amount of trash and didn’t need it.  Now we use this flower bucket from restoration hardware.  We have a pot lid that happens to fit perfectly on top.

Beneath the lid

Hey, what’s that mylar bag holding the refuse?

???

surprise!

For trash bags, I re-use bags for which I can’t think of other uses.  I try to avoid accumulating bags: by refusing them at stores, bringing my own, buying in bulk, etc.  When I do acquire bags from purchases, I try to think of a way to get at least one more use out of them.  This de facto trash bag once held salt and vinegar potato chips.  Mylar bags never puncture or leak.  When it’s full, we will use a stapler to fasten it shut.  On the down side, the chip bag doesn’t reach the edge of the receptacle, so sometimes scraps fall around the edges.  But the pail is lined with a second plastic bag.  The second bag can stay in use as a liner for weeks, until it gets gross and then is finally used as a trash bag itself.  I haven’t bought garbage bags in years.

I’d rather be composting

I got to thinking about tea leaves and how they make up a large part of our garbage.  They are nitrogen rich and great for compost.

Composting organic matter is better than sealing it in plastic and sending it to the landfill.  Composting saves the fuel of trucking organics to landfill sites. It saves bags and space in landfills.  Most importantly, it returns nutrients in food waste to the soil.  With compost, gardeners and farmers can maintain rich soil without petroleum based synthetic fertilizers.  I’m excited that Minneapolis has some pilot curbside composting programs in Linden Hills and ECCO neighborhoods.  But composting at home is the ultimate in efficiency, because it requires no transportation.

Ultimately I want to get a household compost system going again.  We don’t have a yard, and Brian says he doesn’t want to share a home with worms (vermicompost), but my sister lives nearby and has offered up her yard.

In the meantime

Tea leaves are just that: leaves.  So what’s stopping me from throwing them in the woods somewhere?  In Minneapolis, there are always woods within biking distance.  I recently began collecting our daily tea leaves in the freezer.  A side benefit: keeping that extra moisture out of the garbage keeps the trash from getting smelly.  Also the reduction of moisture means I can easily use small paper bags for our kitchen trash, such as the ones food comes in at Chipotle.  (BTW, you can bring your own bag to Chipotle!)

from the freezer to a forest near you

After a month I had several containers full of tea leaves.  I felt like taking a bike ride, and decided to tote my tea leaves along to a wooded area and set them free.

my chariot awaits

In the woods just beyond the train tracks seemed a suitable home.

tea leaves acting natural

It’s strangely poignant to see my tea leaves communing with oak and elm.

we are frozen tea leaves if you please. we are frozen tea leaves if you don’t please

And then she hopped a train to Saskatchewan and was never heard from again.

Until next Wednesday, that is!  Thanks for reading the Wednesday Post.

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