Colm O'Regan: I’m enjoying turning a waste-frown upside down

Colm O'Regan: I’m enjoying turning a waste-frown upside down

It’s time to talk rot. Not rancid rot. Not breaddy rot or chickeny rot. Nice rot. Eggshells and lettuce. Potato skins. The kind of stuff that you make you say Oh instead EEEEEUUU. 

The stuff that turns into humus, the earthy wormy stuff. The stuff that if you fell on it in the forest you’d write a blog about how earth is an anti-depressant. Some of us pay money for that to be taken away in the brown bin. Some of us pay money for that to be taken away in the Evil Bin. 

The brown bin goes off to a big stinky place staffed by heroes and gets turned into compost and sometimes we buy that back off them. But have you thought about, ya know, letting it rot nearer to you? Like a compost heap or bin. 

There is a huge caveat: Not everyone is in a position to do this so the next few paragraphs may annoy. But if you have any counterspace at all to put an extra food caddy, and some local compost heap to dump it in (ours is in the grounds of a local hall), in a time of mounting losses, here is a tiny win.

I promise you’ll get a kick out of it. Okay, I do anyway. It just feels so right. Sort of efficient. Why would someone use energy to take away something from my house to turn it into something that I would have to pay for. 

So I just it into a box and for it to turn into something good. It’s very slow magic. The oldest most natural process in the world. Yes, there’s a bit of ick. But I don’t mind ick any more. I’m not going to be all ‘When you’re a parent you’ll understand’ but there’s one thing about minding children – and indeed anyone who minds people with extra needs at any stage of life. 

You get less offended by ick. Wipe enough bums or have enough snotty hands wiped on you and you just get used to it. You don’t take it personally.

I’m fond of composting for nostalgic reasons too. When I was growing up, not a single bin lorry darkened our yard. The scraps were fed to the pigs or ‘thrown over the wall’ for crows and foxes and whoever else was passing. Within a short space of time it was gone. That was a farm though. We had the space. 

Now, let’s not pretend this wasn’t a Pop Larkin Darling Buds of May situation. We cheerfully burned the rest of the rubbish. Paper, plastic, bean cans the whole shebang. It wasn’t the circle of life. 

But still, wouldn’t it be great if everyone could rot their carrot skins and put it into their geraniums.

We have a wormery too. It’s about the size of a beer fridge that you fantasise about having in your room. Except it’s full of worms turning your lettuce into wormpoo. They’re a bit more finicky. 

They don’t like onions and citrus. But even still, these tiger worms a fair job and the stuff they spit out is so strong it needs to be diluted or the marigolds will OD.

But it’s all the same process, turning a waste-frown upside down. It even makes you look at previously annoying insects with new eyes. I see a wood louse now and I give them the thumbs up. 

Sometimes things falling apart isn’t so bad.

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