My New Drinking Partner

So I took a full compost caddy to the pub on Friday night

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Pub compost fun

It seemed only fair since it had patiently sat through an outdoor screening of Murray’s semifinal match and while I don’t know much about slightly rancid vegetable matter I suspect that it isn’t all that into tennis.  I drew the line at taking my less than fragrant compost caddy for a shopping trip round Marks and Sparks however, that would just be insane- what  do you think I am?? Some kind of sociopath!

I think it’s fair to say I’ve been getting a bit obsessive about my compost.  It’s a feeling that’s been building up for a few months now.  Ever since I dug out a massive pile of rubbish, ivy, bramble and assorted weeds at the bottom of our garden and uncovered an enormous homemade compost bin.

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dark lurking compost bin

I’m not sure I would feel quite as much love for this item if I hadn’t gone through quite so much to discover it.

“Digging a patch of earth?  What’s so difficult about that?  I hear you cry!”

Nothing much I’ll admit … until you find a pair of men’s slippers under all the gunk and your overactive imagination starts contemplating all the ways those slippers could have got there.

Now I know I’ve read far to much Agatha Christie but honestly, who  chucks a pair of slippers over the garden wall, or leaves them under a bush at the end of their own garden.  One slipper, with a hole in perhaps.  A pair? in fairly good condition? surely not!  I was so convinced that I was about to find a decomposing body under the next spade that I was already trying to work out what was worse,  – finding an hours old corpse or a fully decomposed bare skeleton.  (I had already made the decision that I definitely didn’t want a partially decomposed body obviously)  It was actually a bit of a shocker to get to the bottom of the pile (It was truly massive) and not find the previous owner of the slippers.  phew

So, as I set about refilling my bin with slightly more wholesome ingredients than discarded plastic and polyester clothing and brambles I’ve been getting a bit over excited.  I became obsessive about taking my apple cores and banana skins home from work in my lunch box –  not eating any fruit mid-morning because my lunchbox would still occupied with sandwiches and couldn’t be pressed into compost transport mode. While we are one the subject I get a really weird kick out of packing a zero waste (and zero pounds) sandwich and then bringing home my potential compost in the same box – a double landfill avoidance win.  Whoop Whoop.  (I did admit to this being weird ok)

But then I started getting weirder.  I started looking at everyone else in my office, innocently eating their lunch and quite possibly throwing their crusts, cores and skins in the bin.  What could I do with their discarded leftovers?  make freaking awesome compost that’s what!  And yet they were chucking it in the bin and sending it off to landfill.  When you realise that the anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions in landfill mean that organic waste will not breakdown like compost but instead contributes to a manky liquid ‘leachate’ which can damage any waterways it leaks into and contribute to increasing methane production that suddenly seems more than a little sad.  Well it did to me.

I quietly admitted to a colleague that I was obsessing about asking people for their core when I saw them tucking in to an apple and she wet herself laughing.  We even discussed an hilarious sign I could put up in the kitchen requesting Libi’s luscious leftovers.  Given her reaction I decided to keep my obsession with other people’s lunch to myself.

And then, a few weeks ago we had a team meeting.  A meeting with the whole team, all my seniors, my managers, their managers, people who had just started in the department, people I know quite well, people I don’t know at all, people I would like to impress with my impressive job skills, people who impress me with their impressive job skills, even some quite hot guys.  Basically there were a lot of people in this meeting all of whom I really didn’t want to look weird in front of.  Most weeks I manage quite well.  This was not going to be my week.

In fairness I had done pretty well at not looking wierd.  I hadn’t arrived late, I hadn’t nodded off and dribbled down my chin I hadn’t even spoken up about anything I knew nothing about – quite impressive for me.

Then it all went wrong.

Our head of service mentioned sustainability.  Apparently It has now been decreed that sustainability in our organisation would be everyone’s responsibility and as a room we pretty much agreed that this effectively meant that sustainability had suddenly become no one’s responsibility. People began suggesting ways that they would like our office to be more environmentally friendly.  Using less paper towels, switching off the heating (it being June and all and us being a bit sweaty with the heating on – no joke) and switching off PCs of an evening.  And then I heard myself say it.

I’m sure I didn’t actually say “can I take your apple cores home with me”  But that’s effectively what happened.  Our head of service declared I was welcome to do so providing I didn’t attract any flies (another of my top life ambitions) at which point one of my very very kind colleagues offered to provide a composting caddy the whole room had a good giggle and I went back to trying to look less weird despite having shown everyone just how weird I was.

The next day no less I found a compost caddy on my desk.  To say I was excited is a massive understatement.  I confess to pointing at a passing colleague munching unawares on a banana proffering my caddy and telling her in no uncertain terms where to put her peel.  Later in the day she came up to my desk to tell me she had deposited a banana skin, a tangerine peel, and a tea bag in my caddy adding that I would “get nothing more out of her today!”  But tomorrow I could look forward to getting another banana peel and an apple core.

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There is a notice telling people what they can’t put in… and one telling them what they can put in – it was needed apparently

 Libi’s Lovely Leftovers have become quite normal in our office kitchen now, thankfully we dropped the idea of luscious leftovers. In fact after only three days of the caddy appearing in our office I tool it home on Friday I was on annual leave on Monday and Tuesday.  I had assumed that people would simply go back to using the normal bin for their organic waste in mine and the compost caddies absence. I waltzed in on Wednesday morning to find a pile of teabags and banana skins piled on a plate with a slightly surreal pineapple top balanced on the pile.  My office are so hardcore that they compost even in the absence of a caddy!  That is total compost love right there.  Or unthinking obedience to the weird girl who takes her compost to the pub.

All this now means that if anyone asks me out on a Friday night they get a little more than they bargained for.  Knowing London a little too well I’m too nervous to leave my full caddy unattended in my bike basket  – not trusting someone weirder than myself deciding to take my malodorous vegetable waste home – or worse still spreading it round the street for a laugh. Instead I have taken to bringing it along with me whereever I go.

To the tennis

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Compost at the tennis

The pub

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And of course on the last drunken train home – crammed in next to the canoodling couple just out of shot

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Last train home

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10 thoughts on “My New Drinking Partner

  1. Libi my dearest I love your posts I need this as an app!! So I can catch up!

    Lots of love your pal Ginge!

    Here here compost physios!

  2. We are great composters. We were told that the worms (who break down the waste) don’t like citrus so we keep the orange/lemon/lime peel out of the compost. We leave them to dry on the windowsill and use them as kindling for our wood burner. Nothing is wasted!

    • Yeah! Worms don’t really like citrus – I learnt that when I worked in an office space geared for charities and enterprise companies. The office manager installed a wormery and the worms got upset because all the banana peels and coffee were upsetting the pH. They were all trying to crawl out of the bin and she kept trying to push them back in while getting distressed because her poor wee worms were upset. It was like a mini horror movie but very funny. Since most of the waste at that office consisted of coffee tea and peel the worms got their marching orders.

      Even so, I’ve never worried about that in a normal compost bin – There are so many critters and bacteria working in an open system – not just the worms that it all seems to balance out. Still I bet your kindling smells delightful.

  3. You really are a hard core composter. It is fantastic that your office colleagues are on board. I think most people hate waste and want to do something – and are just grateful when someone else steps up to provide an idea, and a painless way to contribute..

    • That’s such a good point. I’m just helping out the lazy people. 🙂 I think there are a few people who disapprove but mostly people have just reacted as if the bin has always been there. I love how they act all lost when it’s not there.

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