Over the years, she’s developed a variety of practices to make separating her garbage easier.
Watch our Composting 101 video:
She pulls on a pair of rubber gloves before she takes her compost bin out from under the sink. “Even though I love separating my garbage, I’m not a fan of touching it,” she says.
Despite the growing number of curbside composting programs in the Pacific Northwest, not many people are like Ziemski.
Curbside composting programs are becoming more available throughout the Pacific Northwest, but studies have shown that area residents are slow to take part. In the greater King County area nearly all households can put food scraps in yard waste bins, but a 2011 study found that in a given week only 13 percent actually did.
“I think this country has a big problem with seeing their own garbage and handling it. We live in a culture where it’s all very hidden and removed,” Ziemski says. “We put our garbage into opaque black bags, and we never see where it goes.”
Composting, Ziemski says, keeps her aware of what she throws away.
When Ziemski isn’t sure of what goes where, she uses this rule of thumb: “If it was alive at some point, it can go into the compost. And if it wasn’t, then it doesn’t.”
There are a few exemptions, for example— coffee cups. Though the cups are made of paper, the inside is lined with plastic which isn’t biodegradable. So when a coffee cup goes through a commercial composting system, parts remain intact. The same goes for milk cartons and ice cream cartons.
If curbside composting isn’t offered in your area backyard food composting is another method. Every apartment building in Seattle with more than five units is required to have a food waste cart available for residents to use.
— Krystal Alexander
What Goes In The Compost Bin
- Meat, fish, poultry, bones, shellfish
- Vegetables, fruit trimmings
- Paper towels, napkins
- Egg shells, bread, pasta, coffee grounds
- Dairy products (yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.)
- Paper coffee filters and tea bags
- Greasy pizza delivery boxes
What Doesn’t Go In The Compost Bin
- Plastics and metals (stickers, rubber bands, twist ties)
- Styrofoam containers
- Disposable utensils
- Facial tissue or toilet paper
FAQ: 4 Misconceptions About Curbside CompostingQ: Won’t food just decompose anywhere?
Q: Won’t keeping food scraps stink up my kitchen?
Q: What if I don’t have a curbside composting container?
Q: Does everything in my yard count as yard waste?