top of page

Composting As Meditation

At Christmastime, my daughter Jessica returned home for a three-week visit. While here, she set up a composting station in our kitchen. Carrot peels, onion skin and used tea bags all make their way into a yellow container next to the sink.

It was a difficult transition at first, changing any habit is. Thinking about what leftovers are and aren’t appropriate for compost…no cheese, no milk, no meat or fish! And of course as conscious New Yorkers we are already separating paper, plastic and metal products. I could spend hours sorting my remnants.

When the container is full of scraps, I take the contents and put them in a bag and freeze it. Right on top of the Stoli bottle. No more room for ingenious flavored gelatos. Now, on Sunday mornings I haul 2, 3 or 4 (dinner party!) to the Farmer’s Market on 79th Street and dump the contents into green garbage bins manned by eager volunteers.

In the winter the mango pits and melon rinds stay frozen but with the warmer weather by the time I walk ten blocks my bags become a bit more odoriferous. I always hope I don’t meet any talkative neighbors on the way there.

This spring, a young man who makes sure my neighbors and I put the right contents in the big receptacles, gave me a small bag of soft dark soil…think the color of rich Columbian roast. He said I earned it. It was the residual product from all the garbage that had been collected. 100% NYC compost. He claimed it would keep my house plants happy.

Too bad I’m a loser with house plants. I suggested he give my bag to the next gardener he met.

There is a meditation prescribed to understand our intrinsic connectedness. After a recent shopping trip to the Farmer’s Market I made lunch and concentrated on the food on my plate. I thought about the farmer from whom I bought the produce, from the workers who picked my lettuce and from the fertile ground where it was sown.

How many people it took just to get a simple salad from the loam to my plate and how many opportunities I now had to be thankful.

I realized that the ground from which I got my food may have been partially made up from my discarded beet leaves and coffee grinds. My refuse holds the possibility of helping transform a celery seed into a stalk!

Forget the gods on my home alter…I acknowledged the volunteers at the Farmer’s Market, the person who used my allotted bag of compost and the simple bowl on my counter and prayed they would continue to serve us all for years to come.

--Brette Popper

bottom of page