Rotting goodness

Not just for fishing.

Not just for fishing.

(Come friend Aunt Ruthie on Facebook and let’s hang out.)

Do you compost? That’s the eco-equivalent of asking somebody,“Do you Netflix?” And if the answer isn’t as commonly “yes,” it’s not for lack of history—it’s been around a lot longer than DVDs themselves, much less DVDs in the mailbox.

Rather than sending kitchen scraps down the disposal or out with the garbage, composting is the process of decomposing food bits into fertilizer and soil amendments. You spread them around your garden and, my, how your garden grows.

Auntie Ruth remembers composting from her college days at UC Davis—a big ol’ pile of stinky food, dirt and worms, placed discreetly in a corner of the yard where the smell wouldn’t waft into the house. The technology has come a heck of a long way since then, and the city of Sacramento has a splendid program to help you implement it in your backyard.

According to city public information officer Jessica Hess, Sacramento has purchased Smith & Hawken Biostack bins. Since discontinued, they retail for $129, but “because the city cannot sell them for a profit, we sell them [at cost] to any customer who has attended a compost seminar or has taken the online class/test.” Smart stuff. The cost is $65, and these three stackable bins are made from 60 percent recycled polyethylene. The “unique design allows users to disassemble one level at a time to add, turn and remove compost,” according to the ConsumerSearch website. They can hold 12 cubic feet of rotting goodness. Two hundred Sactowners have purchased the bins to date.

While Sacramento isn’t San Francisco, SN&R’s Jeff vonKaenel quoted former S.F. Mayor Gavin Newsom in his comments to Sac’s Greenwise group a few months back, saying that the fight for mandatory composting was more controversial in San Francisco than gay marriage. Ruthie has no doubt that the same would be true in Sacramento.

But these compost bins are a great first step, one according to Hess that “is good for your wallet.” “Customers who routinely fill their garbage containers less than halfway each week can consider switching to a smaller container size. Customers who switch to a 32-gallon container can save more than 37 percent ($8.09) a month on their garbage bill,” she said. Check out the “Backyard Composting” link under the city’s Department of Utilities website.