More Compost Than Garbage

This is nothing special for some of you, because it’s the way you’ve lived for years. For us, though, this is a big deal. We had a dinner party for 10 people Saturday night. When it was over, we had three good sized bags of compost and only a few ounces of garbage.

And fragrant compost it is. We rustled up a low country boil for our foyer group at Epiphany. Potatoes, corn, sausage, and of course, big juicy shrimp (no, not from the Gulf of Mexico), with Amanda’s homemade peach cobbler for dessert.

If we had used paper plates and/or cups, of course, we would have generated lots more garbage. We did use paper napkins and paper towels – neither of us could see washing shrimp residue and cocktail sauce out of all the cloth napkins right now – but these days we’re more than comfortable composting paper napkins and paper towels, so into the compost they went.

We covered a plywood table with newspaper and craft paper to use as the main serving table, and all of that went into the compost. And of course all those lovely corn cobs and shrimp peels and tails made it to the compost as well. Don’t remember much food that didn’t get eaten; certainly none of Amanda’s cobbler! The only additions to the garbage were the packaging in which the food arrived. Maybe in time we’ll find local sources for more and more of that and won’t have food packaging to deal with either.

Now, let’s be honest: a dinner party in central Alabama swims in fossil fuel. The propane burner for the low country boil burned for 50 minutes or so, and Amanda’s cobbler cooked for 30 minutes in a radiant electric oven. Growing, harvesting, processing, and transporting the food we consumed required untold gallons of fossil fuel. And our eight guests arrived and departed in five different (large) vehicles. Just for grins, I sort of worked out how far we all traveled, and I calculate that, when all was said and done, we drove our massive aluminum and steel fuel-guzzlers more than 300 miles before the night was over and everybody back home safe.

I don’t want to dwell on that, though. Being an optimist deep in my soul, I want to savor the small triumphs along the way, even while acknowledging that we have miles to go on our journey.

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