Thursday, September 6, 2012

Non-kitchen compost

Ever since I first started delving into the topic of waste reduction about a month ago, I've been puzzling over the fact that Brian and I don't seem to have many options for reducing our household waste beyond the point we're at now. This morning, for instance, as I was sweeping up the spilled cat litter in the bathroom (the rest of the house gets swept once a week, but the bathroom has to be done daily to remain tolerable), I grumbled to myself once again over the fact that I really ought to dump out the sweepings in the compost bin, but since I'd already undressed for my shower, I'd have to re-dress to do it. "What I really need," I thought, "is a separate trash can in here for the compostable stuff." Of course, I realized, that idea wasn't really practical, because there's barely room in our tiny bathroom for the one small wastebasket we have now. But then a thought occurred to me: why not a countertop compost bucket?

Usually, bins like these are kept in the kitchen, since that's the room that produces most biodegradable waste. In our house, though, we don't have one, because the compost bin is right outside the kitchen door, so vegetable scraps can simply be tossed in a bowl and dumped after the meal. Good thing, too, since counter space in our kitchen is scarce enough as it is. But in our case, most of the waste generated in the bathroom is also compostable material, such as:
  • the tangles of hair we scrupulously scoop out of the drain after showering
  • swept-up cat hair and wheat-based litter
  • scraps of toilet paper used for wiping up dust, sweeping up hair after shaving, applying medicine, and so on
  • cotton swabs (the kind with cardboard rather than plastic centers)
So why shouldn't we have a little compost bin in the bathroom to hold this stuff? Although the room itself is small, the vanity is a good size, and we aren't really keeping anything on it now. And that would free up the small wastebasket for such non-recyclable items as dental floss, Band-Aids, medicine bottle tops (the bottles themselves are usually recyclable) and blister packs, and empty deodorant containers. And since all of these items either take up very little space or get discarded very seldom, we'd hardly ever have to empty that bathroom wastebasket anymore.

The more I think about this cockamamie idea, the more I think it might actually be practical. Maybe not worth paying 30 bucks for a fancy compost pail like this, but definitely worth keeping an eye out at our upcoming town-wide yard sale for a container that might be suitable.
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