Lifestyle Changes: Composting, Recycling, and the Farmers Market

In my life, I have found a thousand excuses not to do things that require extra effort. I think most people do. I say to myself, I’ll start next week . . . or I really need to . . . and then I don’t. I’m trying to change that about myself.

Every time I turn around lately, I see some reference to being “green.” Of all the fads I have seen in the last twenty years, this is a good one. And I’m on board, too.

Within the last year, Montgomery’s city government ended curbside recycling pickup. We used to have orange bags that got picked up once a week, and ours was always full. Most of the content was cardboard or plastic packaging. We were doing so well that we were only putting out about one kitchen garbage bag of trash a week! And that’s with a family of four, with one child in diapers. But when it ended, we did like everyone else I know, and we quit. Our trash can was getting full a lot more often. So I decided to do something about it. Now we recycle like we used to, but now I have to separate the items into paper, plastic, and aluminum, and I have to carry it to a drop-off center myself. And our trash has dropped right back down to that one bag-full a week. It takes more effort, but I have made it into something our family does. My kids ride with me every Saturday morning to carry the recycling to Mount Scrap.

Also for about a year now, I have been composting to feed my gardens and yard. I have been doing the simple method, a pile on the ground that I turn over myself, since a lot of these barrel-like composters are kind of expensive. I had tried at our old house to compost, but I didn’t know what I was doing; the dog kept eating everything I put out, because I didn’t know not to just clean out the fridge and throw it all out there. I have learned now how to do it properly, what to throw in and what not to. This also takes more effort, separating recyclable trash from compostable items from trash. And going outside to put it in the pile every day take a few minutes, but it’s worth it for a lot of reasons. It is also reducing the amount of trash we throw out, my kids are seeing what I’m doing and will hopefully carry that practice on in their lives, and it keeps me from using chemical fertilizers in my gardens.

The final change we’re making, which is just now beginning, is buying our produce at the local farmers market, rather than the grocery store. Alabama is full of small farmers, and that doesn’t count the people with their own vegetable gardens. Being able to buy fresh produce that hasn’t been trucked in is a real blessing. Once again, it take more effort because the market isn’t open every day and we can’t just run up to the farmers market to pick up a few things, like we can with the grocery store. But I like doing this, because it keeps the money local, it helps small farmers stay in business, it provides my family with fresh food, and it reduces the gasoline usage of large-scale distribution systems. Everybody wins . . . well, except the grocery stores.

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