January 29, 2013

Desktop Composting. ~ Ron Green

I’m walking into work. My stainless-steel coffee capsule is drained.

There is a broken branch clutching dead leaves that looks out-of-place in a manicured city planter. I reach down and rescue it from possible mummification by plastic bag.

A local coffee-shop entrepreneur stops me, having observed my travel-mug, and offers me a coupon. He is visibly confused that instead of half-priced coffee and a muffin, I’m more interested in placing pieces of the rescued sienna foliage into my tumbler.

On the elevator a painter glances at me enviously because his coffee break is over and he has to go back to work. I arrive at my office, glide past the reception desk and blatantly toast to a ‘good morning.’

No one suspects what is really going on. At my desk I wait until my colleague leaves the room, and then I draw out a plastic bulk coffee container and quickly dump my litter into a moist mound of brown muck.

Welcome to my secret world of guerilla ecology.

Perhaps it’s obvious that I’m new to the office—hiding my stash of compost and all. However, it’s not as though my associates are not progressive thinkers, at least compared to the average Denverite. They recycle the basics (more or less), beverage containers and paper. But when it comes to compost (a natural next step), the staff is curiously oblivious.

I was heartbroken to witness beautiful rich chocolate-colored used coffee grounds being disrespectfully dumped in the regular garbage. For shame!

I had to do something.

Photo by Ron Green

Conveniently, there was a used coffee container from the cheap office brand the job kicks in for. The used grounds are actually more valuable than the brewed crud, but free coffee can be stomached by the worst snob.

Occasionally, coworkers catch a glimpse of my desktop composter, and a couple of observant ones are in the know. Still, it feels a little silly sneaking around composting at work.

The trend of living green has been steadily redirecting large percentages of household waste from landfills to recycle transfer stations and garden composters. It is now even hip to outfit the suburbs with micro chicken coops. I wonder, though, when will the troopers of the corporate sector really step up and take responsibility?

The amount of garbage and compostable refuse that continues to go out in the regular trash is simply unacceptable.

If we updated our green-consciousness as quickly as we do our cell phones and computers, every business would have a plan for eco-friendly waste management as efficient and easy to follow as an emergency exit map.

If we cannot depend on our leaders, superiors and peers to make the most rudimentary shifts toward planet preservation, then we must take action and lead by example. Full-time jobs absorb huge tracks of our lives, and the values that prompt us to recycle at home don’t stop when we head out on our commute.

Responsible stewardship is a lifestyle change in all facets: energy conservation, wise nutrition and innovative steps to living in accordance with and rejuvenation of nature—not at its expense.

As the motto goes: reduce, reuse and recycle.

At home and the office, be the change; even if it must be deployed in a covert operation.


 Ron Green is co-founder of Originateve and Amerikanoestudios, supporting holistic, sustainable and indigenous learning environments which nurture cultural, ecological and spiritual recovery through vitalization of creativity, community and mythology. He consults between Costa Rica and Denver, where he mentors learners of English as a second language in a very unsustainable, leaky-roofed building in the heart of downtown Denver. Connect with him on Facebook.


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Assist. Ed: Amy Cushing
Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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