I have spent the last four years trying to do everything that I can to ensure that my beliefs are mirrored by my actions. The one truth I’ve learned through this process is that there is always room for improvement. Having recently been inspried by one of the library’s TEDxYouth events in which speaker, Dhara Mehta spoke about the benefits of composting, I decided to try minimizing the amount of garbage I produce on a day-to-day basis.  Here are some things I’ve learned along the way that may inspire you to reduce your own carbon footprint:

1. Consider what you buy:

Even when you are simply ‘buying what you need’ it is very difficult to come away from a trip to the grocery store with zero waste.

2. Join Princeton’s Curbside Composting Program:

This program has been a great resource to me. I have a family of four humans, three dogs, one cat, one lizard and one snake. (Full disclosere: I also have five fish, but they do not contribute to my rubbish situation.)  To give you an idea of how much waste we all produce, the following is a picture of two week’s worth of garbage for us (note: the dogs’ garbage is in the tin can and is NOT compostable) and that is without me making any special effort to reduce the amount of waste we create.

With a very finite amount of land at my disposal composting was not an ideal option for me. That being said, there are several reasons I might choose curbside composting even if I had hundreds of acres at my disposal:

  1. There are a whole host of things that I can compost with the program that can’t be placed into a traditional compost pile OR recycling bin such as meat, cooked foods, dairy products, food-contaminated paper/wax paper, egg cartons, waxed cardboard, biodegradeable plates and utensils, and Small World Coffee cups.
  2. It’s less work and so easy! When you sign up, you are provided with a green 32-gallon organics container, a tidy, two -quart ‘kitchen collector’ bin, and some compostable bags to line the kitchen collector.  It makes things clean, tidy, and NOT GROSS! THe kitchen container is just the right size so that you don’t have to empty it after every meal, and it doesn’t have time to get yucky.  The organics container has a tightly fitting lid, preventing unwelcome guests.
  3. It is a simple step towards solving a bigger environmental problem
  4. If our entire community composts, it will show the world what the Princeton Community thinks is important
  5. As a bonus, you can visit (undisclosed location) and are welcome to take home as much composted ‘black gold’ as you can carry.  I have participated in other programs and can tell you that this composted material is the best.  I have made my Master Gardener friends jealous and my plants happy – check out my zinnias!

3. Check out the library’s resources:

We have a number of books on composting for those of you that prefer to do it yourself.  One  of my favorites is Brett Markham’s “The MiniFarming Guide to Composting” because he can help you do it all on a quarter acre.

If you are looking for inspiration or more information you can check out these films from our collection (all but “Trashed” were shown during the Princeton Environmental Film Festival)

4.  See how you’re doing compared to the rest of the country:

You can see where New Jersey stands when compared to other states with this handy infographic from the Washington Post.

5 Now more economical than ever:

It was just announced that if you join now the costs will be pro-rated.

Photos taken by author.

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