There are many people who argue that fighting climate change is a long fast. You can see the voices that go a long way in colonizing ideas of what makes us happy. Women’s magazines have long made a living from destroying our self-esteem in order to sell us things to make us feel better. There will be many gas lighters on the street in front of you, mining the cracks for their own purposes.
One of the principles of permaculture is a simple idea: the problem is the solution. Finally, hopefully, we are beginning to understand that we have many problems, and some of them contain great enriching solutions.
Every Irish household produces an average of more than 110 kg of food waste each year. Still, in horticulture we have an established practice of using peat moss as compost. Both are practices that we just have to stop. Bogs are too important as carbon sinks and hubs of biological diversity. Like oil and gas, we need to keep peat firmly in the ground.
As part of their Grow With Us campaign, An Taisce did a great job explaining how living without peat compost is actually richer, promoting healthier crops, and saving money. Peat compost was a scam, a term that connected ideas of one thing to something entirely different. Unlike real compost, peat moss does not contain any nutrients. It only outperforms real compost in its ability to hold water and provide a sterile (i.e. dead as door nails) medium for seeds to grow.
Due to the lack of nutrients in peat, the plant that starts in peat moss is more likely to need synthetic fertilizers that encourage plant growth but make it more susceptible to disease, so more chemicals are used in the lose-lose cycle of feed and pesticides.
Composting our food waste will reduce the fossil fuels used for transportation to landfill. With composting, we start doing what forests do. Leaves and branches fall undisturbed to the forest floor and form the rich hummus that defines life. Recombining our food waste with woody material (and the An Taisce guide has great step-by-step instructions) provides us with a free replacement for the gardening clothes and the climate and biodiversity disaster, i.e. peat moss. We save waste fees and are more connected to what is thrown out. Our garden life becomes richer and healthier and we can eat more nutritious food. There’s nothing dreary about that. Composting opens up the whole wealth of colors in natural, healthy systems. Start your composting career now and next spring you could be knee-deep in the good stuff.
Guide to Composting for Nature available online at antaisce.org
Catherine Cleary is the co-founder of Pocket Forests