Teaching kids about the important of composing as much of your household’s rubbish clearance is a lesson they will take forward for decades. They may even pass on this knowledge and philosophy about rubbish clearance composing on to their own kids and grandkids. So, this is a seed worth planting and it will grow a bigger bounty if you make the learning and thought experience more enjoyable.
The first step is to call a family meeting to set the goal of composting as much of your household rubbish clearance as possible, and explaining to the kids, and perhaps other family members, why this is so important. You can start by giving them a quick tutorial on why landfills are anaerobic and why aerobic decomposition contributes so much to the green house effect through the release of methane gas and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. You can also tell them about the hazards of toxins getting into the ground water.
Using a big board, have the kids make a list of all the things you bin in your rubbish clearance. These can include obvious rubbish clearance items like food waste removal, food packaging, newspapers, and junk mail. Have the kids think deeper to come up with more items to add to the list, prodding them by asking questions like, “What are some things we don’t bin every day or every week but we do bin once a month or a few times a year?” They may come up with things like worn out toothbrushes, clothes they’ve outgrown, toys they don’t play with any more, curtains that become faded and need to be replaced, etc.
Next, go through the list of rubbish clearance items and determine what can be composted already. For example, food waste removal and newspaper can be put in the garden compost pile without any changes to the family’s habits. However, some items, such as tooth brushes with plastic handles and nylon bristles, cannot be composted! Ah ha! What can the family do to turn this non-compostable item into an item that CAN be composted? Ask the kids, does anyone make toothbrushes that are compostable? What would compostable toothbrushes be made out of and would they work as well as the toothbrushes we currently use?
Help the kids research this online. Well, don’t be surprised if they actually help you research this and know about ways to do this you’ve never seen before. What do they find? Hmmm… there’s a company called Ecoheart that makes toothbrushes with handles made out of sustainable and compostable wood! In fact, these compostable handles are made out of bamboo, one of the most sustainable woods in the world! So, what about the toothbrush bristles? Are they compostable too? Some compostable toothbrushes are made from plant oils! SCORE! Way to solve that particular rubbish clearance problem! Now, let’s move on to another item on the list.
What about clothes? Can you compost clothes? Only if the fabric is made with natural fibers, right? You can’t compost polyester fleece or cotton blended with polyester. But what about the chemical dyes that are used. Should those nasty chemicals be composted into the ground? Probably not! What about metal zippers, plastic buttons, and clothing tags made out of polyester (a synthetic that cannot be composted)? Those can’t be composted either, right?
So, composting clothing is very tricky. You may have to remove stuff before you can compost it and you may not be able to compost most of what’s currently in you closet! This is because there’s too many toxins embedded into the fibers. So, should the family try to make an effort to find clothing that CAN be composted? Hemp, bamboo (it’s really soft we promise), linen (made from flax), silk, and fur fibers like wool from sheep and cashmere from goats are all natural fibers that could be composted if the thread is also compostable and they aren’t dyed or treated with chemical toxins you wouldn’t want in your soil.
The kids may google and find out about a Swiss company called Freitag. They are making fully compostable clothing out of hemp, linen, and a compostable substance from wood called modal. They use only natural colors or natural dyes and nuts to make buttons. They’ve even designed the metal button on pants to easily screw off so it can be used interchangeably on other pants.
Of course, you can also talk to the kids about ways to reduce the amount of clothing they buy and encourage them to buy clothing from resale shops. However, you must go deeper and explain that used clothing will eventually wear out to the point that no one can wear it. Ask them, what happens to it then? Does it still eventually go to the landfill? This is what you are trying to avoid. This is why you want as much as your rubbish clearance as possible to be compostable. Aerobic composting in the garden is the ultimate goal.
The same principle applies to food packaging. If it’s recyclable, that’s a start, but for example, a plastic bottle is not compostable! So, unless that plastic is always recycled (it isn’t), it’s not meeting your ultimate goals. It would be better to use reusable food packaging, such as glass bottles and jars and reusable produce bags and reusable bulk food bags. If not reusable, then have the kids think of food packaging that can be composted! For example, paper bags can be composted but plastic bags cannot be!
If you do have household rubbish clearance you need to get out of the house, and you don’t want it to go to landfill, your best bet is to call Clearabee to pick it up for you. Clearabee has a ninety percent recycle or reuse rate.
Good luck with the kids on converting as much of your waste removal as possible to compostable materials. If you turn it into a game, they’ll love it and carry this knowledge forward into life.