Thursday, October 01, 2009

Compost capers

“Ugh. That’s disgusting.” I slam the lid back onto the compost bin. While we’ve been away all summer, nature has gone into full throttle on the vegetable peelings. It’s like a creepy crawly version of Noah’s Ark; there seems to be at least two of every insect on earth crammed under the lid. It’s all wriggling about and it smells like a cow’s bum. Even the eggs have laid eggs. I’m not going to compost anything any more. It’s too foul.

After dinner, I scrape the remains and peelings into the regular bin, announcing to the kids that I’m through with composting. There’s a sharp intake of breath. Even the Carbon-Toddler raises her eyebrows. “I don’t care about the planet any more. I’m through with being an eco worrier,” I tell them. “I’m going back to not being green. It was more convenient…and less…wriggly.” “But…”the youngest Carbon-Copy volunteers...” “Talk to the hand,” I tell him. The conscience isn’t engaging any more.

The drought in Kenya is in every newspaper. National Geographic does a feature on Venice; more at risk of flooding than ever before. The miserable British weather continues. Global warming is ramping up. But I don’t care. I’m not being green any more. The Guardian brings me news of the 10:10 campaign. I read all about it, devouring every celebrity endorsement, and despair that so few of the population have signed up. But I don’t join myself because I’m done with trying to help the planet. My mum has bought a new car. My brother’s flying to his second home in France again. It confirms I’ve made the right decision. There’s no point in making any effort when everyone else undoes it. I only bother to recycle the papers so I don’t have to digest news of any fresh environmental disasters.

Carbon-Lite is down at the compost bin, shovelling the earth out of the bottom of the barrel. It’s not like the top of the bin; all wormy and horrible. It’s fresh, moist and plentiful earth, which he spreads on top of our thin, weedy soil. It’s new life; all healthy and organic. I pick out bits of plastic shrink wrapping and wonder at how all those potato peelings, banana skins and egg boxes have miraculously transformed into this. I’ve always bought my compost in bags from the garden centre before. Suddenly I can see the results of our efforts and it feels good. Like those little green shoots they talk about in a recession. It’s not going to change the world, or save the world, but it is undeniably a positive start. “Ok,” I say to the Carbon-Copies. “I might start composting again.” They jump up and down and cheer. In the compost bin beside them, the worms are wriggling with delight.