Composting at Collington started in November 2018. For variety of reasons, that initial attempt failed. In 2020, the Compost bins located near the greenhouse had to be shut down. All compost operations were moved to the Hilltop Gardens. In April 2021, all of the commercially available plastic bins were replaced by four custom-build wooden bins. Each of these bins holds about 160 gallons of kitchen and green waste.
I have recently given talks about composting at several District meetings. It has become apparent that many residents believe that there is no composting remaining at Collington. Nothing could be further from the truth. Behind the black fence in the 5000’s is the Hilltop Garden. In the Hilltop Garden are four active compost bins that produce 100’s of gallons of rich compost each year.
All residents may use these bins. Add kitchen waste to the bins marked with green dots. There is a metal tool which you may spread out your waste into thin layer. You dig a hole in the existing leaves or add a handful of dried to cover the waste. You are done. The compost committee will take it from there.
As of April 1, 2022 residents in the apartments may deliver their kitchen waste to the green buckets (pictured above) in the recycling rooms on the first floor of the apartments. The collected waste will be delivered to the Hilltop Gardens on Tuesday and Fridays.
Items you may compost in the Collington bins. • You can compost any plant material (fruit, vegetables and grains). These foods may be cooked or uncooked. A small amount of salad dressing or vegetable oil is fine. • You may compost egg shells and coffee grounds (including the paper filter). • Trimmings from house plants may be composted if they are cut into pieces 4 inches or less in length. However, do not compost plant material if it is diseased. • Tea bags; You can always compost the tea leaves. However the tea bags holding the leaves may be composted, if and only if, the box indicates that the bags are acceptable for home composting. Many tea bags contain plastic. Items you should not compost in the Collington bins: • No meat, fish, seafood, or bones. • No dairy products. • No kitty litter or dog waste. • No wine corks. • No paper (except for coffee filters) • No seeds from pumpkins and squash (they survive composting and sprout everywhere). • Large avocado and mango seeds should be discarded unless they are chopped into pieces. (They take years to compost). Recommendations (to help both the microorganisms and the Collington composters) • It is best if you chop up peels, rinds and cobs into 2 to 3 inch pieces. • Whole fruits and vegetables should be chopped. • Please remove the stickers from produce – they never compost.
A small group of entrepreneurial residents have got together to start a new eco-project at Collington. All of us who drink tea or coffee have the chance to recycle our old grounds and tea bags in the Collington compost project, along with fruit rinds, vegetable waste, dead plant leaves and the like.
The implementing team consists of Don Peterson and an ad-hoc committee of four: Nini Almy, Liz Barbehenn, Shirley Denham and Marilyn Meek. Below are Don and Nini — two of the instigators!
Without much fanfare, the group have set up a series of seven compost bins – four by the greenhouse and raised beds (pictured above), the other three at the Hilltop Gardens. Totally compostable bags are available in the greenhouse, up at the Gardens and in the Country Store.
If you haven’t already started recycling, here are the compost instructions – copied on every bin.
Near the compost bins is a big trash can, where you can contribute the things that should not be composted, as shown below.
It will take about a year for the items in the bins to turn into good, rich, compost that Collington gardeners can use in 2019 to improve the soil in which they will be growing their herbs, vegetables and flowers. What a win-win project!
What does Collington do with old appliances and fixtures?
Collington always has items that it no longer needs. It happened in the clear-out needed to start the Bistro. It happens when units become empty and are refurbished for new residents. It happened when Administration moved up a floor. It has happened recently as try-out cottages are changed into sales units.
Items may include outdated, but still functional stoves, dishwashers, and fridges. It may be shelving, old picture frames, tables, filing cabinets, desks that the OO Shop doesn’t think it can sell quickly. It may be kitchen cabinets that have life left in them.
A few items are kept in storage as emergency replacements for residents. The rest of the still serviceable items are carefully priced to reflect their age and life expectancy. Then, once a sufficient number have accumulated, there’s a special garage-type sale, open only to Collington staff.
So far this year there have been three such sales, which have yielded some $4800.
That’s the first “win”.
The second “win” comes from what the money is used for: it all goes towards the costs of the annual staff holiday party, an end-of-year, off-site bash with raffles and door prizes and food and fun. So the staff members get to buy useful things cheaply and know that their money is going to give them future pleasure too.
Then there’s a third “win”: whatever doesn’t sell is given away to Habitat for Humanity.
The fourth “win” is a win for sustainability: serviceable items end up being put to good use instead of prematurely ending up in a landfill.
Three members of Collington’s Sustainability Committee visited our local recycling center. While there, they learned the following startling facts about how long it takes various items of everyday household use to decompose. The Trip’s Committee may be considering to offer a trip for residents to the center in future. Here are excerpts from the list they were given on the tour.