Goin' Legit: Thoughts on Composting From a Former Green Bandit

Or else, kiddies!
A few months back I wrote about how the harrowing experience of visiting "The Pit" -- the Hieronymus Bosch-like netherworld in which all of San Francisco's refuse ends up -- forced me into an illicit lifestyle. City studies have shown that roughly two-thirds of the crap at "The Pit" could be recycled or composted. And since my  building didn't offer composting, under cover of darkness I would furtively toss our compiled compost into someone else's green bin (I figured the chances of an indignant legit composter bellowing "Hey, save the world on your own, pal -- this green bin's mine!" were pretty low.).

In any event, all that ends tomorrow. The city's mandatory composting law goes into effect on Wednesday. Now I'm cleaning up and I'm moving on, going straight and choosing life.

That being said, San Francisco's pending law does make me nervous: It notes in the fine print that no one living in a multi-unit building will be fined before July of 2011 because -- and this is key -- the director of the Department of the Environment has not yet figured out how to assess such fines. In short, we've enshrined this law without figuring out how to enforce it with regards to the largest portion of San Francisco's populace.

By the way, while apartments have something of an "amnesty" until 2011, landlords who don't bother to provide green bins can get fined right here and now. It'll be interesting to see who who will make history by being the first person penalized for failing to compost. This is the sort of thing that could spur a betting pool. Who's in?

Anyhow, for now I come to praise composting, not to bury it. As we've written before, sans the terror of being caught infiltrating someone else's green bin, there's no reason to wait until your kitchen smells like a restaurant back alley to take out the leavings. Compost in a green bin smells no worse than compost rotting among trash. And, finally, for those unwilling to spray off chemicals or set up fly strips to combat "vinegar flies" attracted by rotting organic matter, a carnivorous sundew plant may be just the thing

If you are an apartment-dweller, by the way, your landlord or property management company ought to have arranged for you to receive your complimentary "kitchen pail" to go along with your green bin. The Department of the Environment is actively seeking tenants to snitch on recalcitrant landlords, and those just getting around to calling up an ordering bins ought to clear out a little time. When we phoned Sunset Scavenger on a lark, our hold time was a cool 13 minutes, 30 seconds.

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