Filed under: J500 Week 4, Society + Media | Tags: compost, education, generation gap, going green
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.”
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.
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