Living Recycling Therapy, or How to Train Your Parents to Use the Compost Bin

Published on December 5th, 2011 | by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

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Recycling Therapy, or How to Train Your Parents to Use the Compost Bin


I love my wife dearly, but, no doubt, we’ve both got our habits that drive each other nuts. One of hers: she will walk coffee grounds across the kitchen to throw them in the trash can rather than putting them in the pail I’ve set up for compostables… wait for it… right by the coffee maker. She does put fruit and vegetable scraps into the bucket, so I’m not a total basket case yet…

Yep, we greenies really want to convince others to adopt simple practices that, collectively, could make a big difference… and we can make ourselves crazy watching others go out of their way to stick to what they’ve always done. We plead and cajole, come up with reward schemes, and even go through the trash ourselves (talk about crazy behavior!). We could probably all use a therapist for our obsession with getting waste materials into the right bin. Fortunately, when he’s not driving a trash truck, Waste Management Joe moonlights as a therapist for the recycling compulsive…

That’s the concept behind a new video series from Waste Management. Titled Recycling Therapy, the series revolves around those of us who obsess about wastes… and how we can make those we love more conscious of the costs associated with throwing those food scraps/aluminum cans/newspapers “away.” The first video launched today (that’s it above), and focuses on composting: Jimmy goes to Joe to discuss his parents’ inability to get compostables into the right bin. Its light, fun, and probably way too close to home for some of us! The company will be rolling out the rest of series on Mondays in December: keep an eye on their Youtube channel for future installments.

But What if You Don’t Have Compostables Pick-up?

This series is targeted at WM customers in the Northwest that do have such services – they’re even required by local ordinance in a number of places. But if you don’t have pick-up service for those things that would go in a compost bin, fear not… there’s still plenty you can do with them to keep them out of the trash can… and the landfill:

  1. Set up home composting: That’s what I did, since our municipal trash hauler only picks up yard waste. You can buy a bin, ¬†or make your own; the finished product can go in your own garden, landscaping, and/or yard (or your neighbors, or the community garden’s…).
  2. For food-stain paper products, turn them into biomass briquettes: I just wrote about this, and so am still relatively new to the concept. But its hard to think of a reason why you couldn’t use food-stained paper towels, napkins, plates, etc. for this project.
  3. Coffee grounds? Use them for plant fertilizer: As we found out last February, used coffee grounds make great fertilizer for roses… or other landscape and food garden plants.

Know of other ways to handle compostables at home… without tossing them? Got stories to tell on a family member for behavior that gets on your last green nerve? Do share…



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About the Author

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog. You can keep up with all of his writing at Facebook, and at



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