J500 Media and the Environment


Composting: Getting the Young Folk to Try by bendcohen
February 11, 2010, 10:10 pm
Filed under: J500 Week 4, Society + Media | Tags: , , ,

I had an unusual experience last year after volunteering to help with a green fair at KU.  Having attended several early planning meetings for From Blue to Green: Conserve KU, I thought I would have free reign to set up whatever sort of thing I wanted at the green fair which would serve as one of the committee’s main programs.  While attempting to throw together a guide to holding “green events”, I was told that I was expected all along to put together a small set-up about the values of compost.

Yes, compost, the delicate art of putting degradable trash into a large pile for later uses.  It was about two weeks before the green fair that I found out that I and my friends would be putting together something about this compelling subject.  As it turned out, I had somebody make a tri-board with pictures of and factoids about compost.  It would have been a bigger hit at the green fair, but we were situated next to a thing about local agriculture, and they were giving out free apples.  Free food always gets more love.

I was reminded of this recently, as I caught up with a friend who, by some circumstance or another, has found herself teaching a class about composting in Kansas City.  While discussing the actual curriculum of the class (it covers both the benefits of composting and how to properly do it), she lamented to me that her students tend to be at retirement age.  “Composting”, I observed to her, “does not play well with the young people.”

Courtesy of the Washington Department of Ecology

As beneficial as this practice could be, both as a means of disposing of certain bits of refuse, and for replenishing topsoil (there are a lot of avid gardeners out there who care about this), it’s one of the least sexy things one can do to go green.  Composting takes sorting through garbage, piling garbage somewhere, and, um… waiting for garbage to degrade into dirt.  Yes, there are practical benefits and applications to this, but on paper, it’s hard to get excited for it.

I considered joking to my friend that her students could spread the lessons they learned to their grandchildren, but it felt kind of mean.  I learned about compost when I was in grade school, from karate teachers and field trips to conservation centers, and I still don’t do it.

So what now?  I’m interested in knowing what people think about not just about the practice of composting, but what can be done to get younger people more interested in it.  My idea: a movie where Ellen Page and Jack Black  run a compost class (I’ll contact my friend to see if she knows anybody who can be played by Black), and somehow teach us lessons about togetherness.  Hollywood, I’m waiting for the call.

But really, throw some ideas out.

Ben C.

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3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I am curious how you compost… do you have a composting bin or do you have a yard with a compost pile? -Kristina B.

Comment by kristinabev

As I said in the post, I don’t currently compost. And yes, I fully appreciate the irony. -Ben C.

Comment by bendcohen

It’s really not as hard as it sounds. I keep a bucket under the kitchen sink and put veg and fruit waste there. I also throw in coffee grounds, egg shells, and used tea bags. Ironically, it doesn’t smell. I dump it into a squared off area in the garden weekly. (I leave the pitchfork handy to stir it up). The CSA that I subscribe to actually leaves behind a back for produce waste that they’ll take back to the farm on a weekly basis. I like your Jack Black idea.

Comment by Tammy McLeod




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