It was a casual trip to Poundland recently that led me to sneak over to my local park at sunrise to start burying my scraps like a squirrel. But it also inspired me to share some insane info on what happens when your gross leftovers go into the garbage.
Having been raised and grown ugly on a little farm in rural Australia, I’ve developed some serious OCD about how I dispose of waste. I recycle religiously, feed what I can to the pigeons that hang outside my window and recently I’ve started taking a colder harder look at my relationship with plastic (including chewing gum, which most people don’t realise has a gum base – “a non-biodegradable substance made from synthetic polymers, or plastic” to be precise.
Thanks to our boy Sir David Attenborough swiftly kicking along the war against plastic, we’re all behaving a bit better in the single-use-plastic department. I suspect we’re slightly more scared of getting a hiding from Mother Nature. But unfortch for us that’s only one of our many dire global ignorances that she’s getting pissed about.
Because did you know that the food scraps you throw in the bin is the number one material that goes into landfill AND it’s majorly contributing to our overheating planet?
(Your food-junk and cow farts.)
Now I know the topic of waste disposal doesn’t get everyone’s boat floating, but shut up for a second because you need to know about the shit your surplus is stirring.
When food goes into landfill, it gets trapped beneath the equally depressing amount of trash we produce. When it’s stuck under dirty nappies and old toothbrushes, methane-producing microbes become active because there’s no oxygen. Methane is the greenhouse gas that’s awesome at trapping heat, so at the scale of which billions of peoples’ food is being buried, the planet is being overwhelmed by methane and heat can’t get out of our fricken atmosphere.
And that’s why I got so damned excited about biodegradable bags, I guess.
Now, I’ve been in trouble many times over the years when I’ve insisted on throwing food scraps back to nature. Not because my friends and family are global-warming-loving bastards but because sometimes onion skin has ended up in the pool or rotting seafood has stanked out the front garden. But I persist in my grossness because I think it’s important that my scraps get the oxygen they need to rest in a peaceful state that won’t fuck with the planet’s vibe.
I’ve figured out that I can’t really go city composting in random spots around my local common. It’s kind of awkward and also global warming has hit London already and the dry terrain is not fit for hole digging. But I have started carrying my scraps to work in my backpack so I can dispose of them in work’s compost facility.
That’s great Jess, but what do you want ME to do about it?
Well, my little green thumb, I’m glad you asked. What I want you to do, if you haven’t already, is start thinking about how you can be nicer to this hospitable planet that’s letting us stay on it for a bit. If you have a garden, research how to compost into it. It’s easy and satisfying. If you don’t have a garden, research local composting initiatives. There’s more around than you think. You can even donate your scrapolas to be fed to farm animals or have a mini worm farm on your windowsill.
There are many things you can do, but the main thing is, don’t be an asshole. Trust me, there are so many ways you can avoid being that.