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The busy parent's guide to composting during a pandemic

Many of us have picked up new skills during the pandemic, like baking bread from scratch, trying a new trendy workout, or, let's be real, simply exploring a new movie genre on Netflix.

My husband and I had another baby, bought a house, and begn composting.

a toddler and dad compost
Toddlers want to be involved in everything, including composting.

I'll admit, when I'd hear "composting" out loud, I immediately thought "garbage." How could storing and transporting smelly food waste be worthwhile?

Well, once I learned that the impact of composting extends beyond my household, it was an easy decision, and as homeowners say, we figured it out. Food waste, based on estimates from the USDA, was about 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food in 2010. That's... insane.

And figuring it out we are. We got pointers from friends who've been composting for a while, from New York to California. And we've taken recommendations for composting equipment and painstakingly researched the web to find our own.

Composting "enriches soil, reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, reduces methane emissions from landfills, and lowers your carbon footprint." – Buzzfeed

Below are three tips on how to get started like we did. This list isn't all you need to successfully compost; I'd recommend also reading this entertaining and approachable guide.

  1. Enlist a partner in your composting journey. Whether it's your partner, kiddo, or another member of your home (what's that ghost in your attic have going on these days?) share the duties of composting. For instance, if one of you does most of the cooking and collecting of food scraps, your partner can be in charge of emptying the compost bucket into the tumbler, and giving it a whirl to mix it all up.

  2. Have the right kitchen setup; it's crucial to composting success. We emptied out half of one cabinet – directly beneath where most food prep takes place – to house a small composting bucket. When we cook, we collect the scraps (tops of strawberries, avocado pits, the list goes on and on) as we normally would. Then, instead of shoving them into the garbage or disposal, we plop them into this minimalist bucket. I chose green since it screams "I'M COMPOST!!", and is bright enough to (not yet) accidentally get knocked over.

  3. Establish a system so easy, you barely have to think about it. After collecting enough food waste to fill the bucket, we take it outside and empty it into the tumbler. We chose a futuristic-looking tumbling composter for a 2' by 2' space in our back yard for it to live, so that it's not literally in the middle of our yard but not totally out-of-sight. (It's actually on sale right now, so grab it if you're interested!)

During a time when we're constantly stressed and anxious, it truly feels good inside to do a little bit of good in our corner of the world.

"Once you get into the habit of composting, it really will become as routine as taking out your trash and recycling. Plus, you'll feel like a freakin' hero." – Buzzfeed

Now, tell me in the comments: have you tried composting? If not, what's holding you back? I'd love to know.

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