Thursday, October 16, 2008

Kitchen Compost Storage, Saving Paper Towels and More Ten Minute Tips

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

What do I do with kitchen compostables until I'm ready to take them outside? I know there are all kinds of compost buckets and the like available. I've explored some of the options on the Internet, but found that for my available under-sink space, a large plastic container (like Tupperware, with a tight fitting lid) works well to contain my daily leftovers until I'm ready to take them to the pile, usually once each day. Better yet, use what's going into the compost pile, when available. Things like shoe boxes to be disposed of, cereal and cracker boxes, paper bags from things like cat litter, dog food (not plastic lined ones), etc are perfect. Just one tip on this note: Wrap wet items in a sheet or two of newspaper before placing them in the box; this will help prevent them from wetting through the box. We don't want the bottom falling through as you carry it to the compost pile.

I keep most of my paper for the compost bin in a paper shopping bag in the bottom of the pantry. Every day I pitch the junk mail and other paper products for composting into this bag, and then include this all with the compostable food products, when I visit the bin. As often as possible, I pick up a bag of coffee ground from Starbucks to add on top, totally diminishing any food odor. You can read about the Starbucks free Grounds for Your Garden program in my post at this link.

I'm just beginning to see what Vicki meant when she told me that the compost pile should always smell like a Rain forest when I pull back the plastic. In spite of the fact that my piles are not yet far enough along to be called compost, apparently the microorganisms are doing their job. As instructed, if I find a bit of a foul odor, I add brown material (paper, leaves, pines needles and yard clippings). This seems to take care of it. Since brown material includes newspaper, I'm always in stock. I gave up sending it to the recyclers, as I'm using all of it for other purposes now. Check out my post on Mulching Tips to Prevent Weed Breakthroughs, for my favorite.

Now, I'm on a roll:

When peeling and cleaning vegetables, open a section of the newspaper and peel and discard vegetable ends onto the paper. When done, roll it all up and it goes right into the compost bin as is.

Newspaper is a wonderful medium for cooling cookies on. If you're making lots of cookies for the holidays, instead of buying a bunch of cooling racks, just layer sections of newspaper on your counters and the paper will absorb heat and fat, cooling the cookies quickly. When finished, just toss the papers into your compost and clean up is done.

Newspaper also works well for cleaning windows. Skeptical? Just put on a pair of reusable rubber gloves. Tear sections of the newspaper at the folds. Use a bucket of warm water with a cup of vinegar added and you're ready to clean windows on a budget, with no chemicals. Toss all the paper in the compost when you're done.

So what are some other ways to save paper towels? Keep a supply of lightweight, reusable kitchen towels around to clean up spills and messes on the counter. I also wrap washed veggies in light weight kitchen towels before storing them, to reduce spoilage caused by too much moisture. No need for Ziploc bags either. Just secure the towel with a rubber band and toss it in the crisper.

Berries and vegetables that stain can be placed into containers to avoid staining the towels. I keep a couple of stained, but clean cloths to store on top of berries; they seem to mold quickly without something to absorb moisture. If you have discovered other solutions for this kitchen problem, I'd love to hear them. Just Click the COMMENT link at the bottom of the post, and tell me about it. Thanks!

If you'd like to check out the other recent articles on composting, here are the links to my series:

Composting: What Is It and Why Do It ?

What Goes Into My Compost Pile?

More Composting Options and Information

Composting Your Doggie's Doodie and Other Solutions

If you're still eager to learn more, tomorrow's post will cover What Do I Do With Large Quantities of Material to Compost? I found more solutions to common problems and will share these in this helpful post. Hope to see you then. Happy Composting!

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