A co-worker stood at my office door Monday afternoon, "What do I do with these," he asked, an empty cup of yogurt in one hand, crumpled paper napkins in the other. I tapped the cup to be sure it was plastic, resisted disposing of them for him.
The entire office was lost after lunch though. We were in our first day of mandated composting and there were twice as many waste baskets in the kitchen than there had been on Friday; all courtesy of the building management. The new waste baskets were adhered with bumper sticker instructions and there were laminated and illustrated instructions to guide us too, but it was still confusing.
The morning had been a breeze. "Coffee cups go in the compost bin," I told everyone, "lids in the landfill." I got a funny look. "The garbage," I clarified. "Lids in the garbage." We were off to a good and caffeinated start.
Then there was a cereal box that landed in the compost. I took it out and put it in the recycle. An hour later it was back in the compost. I left it but took out a biodegradable spoon and washed it for reuse.
I thought I was five shades of chartreuse buying biodegradable utensils for the office but in the world of composting and recycling they are relegated to the garbage. They don't breakdown in compost and they aren't recyclable either.
"The plastic cup goes in recycling," I told my co-worker. He was licking his biodegradable spoon. "That you can reuse." He looked skeptical. "And the napkins, in the compost."
"This is confusing," he said walking away.
Another co-worker, the one I'd pegged the least likely to compost, told me about his Grandmother's system. He told me about guarding the bucket of food scraps until it was full so he could carry it to the pigs. "I loved it," he said. And then he tossed his coffee grounds in the compost like a pro.
A few more days and everyone on our floor will be a pro too. And the people in the other 25 floors in the building will be pros and our families and friends and people we talk to on the street will become compost pros.
I sent the building management a thank you note. And then I went to see if there any more utensils in the garbage to pull out.
I've got to come up with a better utensil solution.
20 hours ago