Of Corn Cobs and Kleenex

Tess' Trash Talk: Blog entry #2

My burden to bear: Monday morning's tally isn't so bad... BTW, the yellow poster at top right? The Pasadena Humane Society's annual Wiggle Waggle Walk charity event is coming up September 30 — you can sponsor Tess by clicking here.

So far, so... not too bad. We managed to compost and/or recycle most of our waste over the weekend. What's in my trash bag right now? Let's see...

· I've got corn cobs (they take a loooong time to decompose in my compost bin so I generally don't include them) from corn I bought at the farmer's market on Saturday morning.

· I've also got some used Kleenex in there, due to unusual fall allergies — though I "cheated" and flushed most of them. I think maybe I could compost them, but I'm not sure. Anybody help on that one? I do compost my paper towels as long as they don't have oil on them, so maybe Kleenex is ok, too?

· And what else? Oh yeah — the thing that I'm afraid will stink up the joint at some point today: steak trimmings. I've put them inside a Ziploc bag, but I don't know that that will keep out the smell of rotting meat.

A couple of you have suggested that in order to not generate waste like those — the meat scraps and the fish skins and chicken bones that I've talked about — that I go vegetarian, or even vegan. I understand that it's a choice many people make for many different reasons. But I have a couple of thoughts about that method of reducing our waste stream.

Without getting into the debates over health benefits, animal rights, etc., I'm not sure it's realistic to expect that enough people in the world — or even in this country — would become vegetarians that it would actually have an impact.

I think the best way to get people to reduce their waste stream is to make it easy, manageable, and [ahem] palatable for them to do so. And asking everyone to stop eating chicken, fish and other meats is more likely to make them throw their arms up in the air and quit the effort. [Feel free to hit the comment button and convince me otherwise!]

I do applaud those who have made that decision, but it's not for my family. So I'm destined to carry around meat detritus for the next two weeks.

I'm intrigued by a couple of other solutions suggested by listeners. Ernie Jackson down in Oceanside, Calif., pointed me to a Website touting something called "bokashi." It's a wheat bran that apparently helps break down non-veggie food waste. Uses a bucket system that, frankly, sounds kinda gross to have in the kitchen, but might be an interesting experiment. And there's another site that listener Sylvia Tuchscherer of Topeka, Kans., suggested — something called a Solarcones. I'll do some more investigating into that one.

So anybody out there planning to try this for a day or two? If so, look to the right of this column and you'll see an area to sign up for the challenge. We'd love to hear your stories.

Meantime, 'til my next post, I thought you'd enjoy a couple of audio samples of reaction to my challenge:

Listen to my husband and I as we took out our last pre-challenge trash bags on Friday night.

Hear a voicemail my piano teacher left for me after hearing my interview with Kai on Friday's Marketplace show.

About the author

Tess Vigeland is the host of Marketplace Money, where she takes a deep dive into why we do what we do with our money.

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