Sister Caryn Crook, OSF
If anyone ever tells you that composting doesn’t smell or that it is easy, it is not true. But I am glad that we at the Hermitage compost. The sisters at the Hermitage were composting before I even entered. Turning food scraps into good soil for all kinds of gardens helps the plants grow beautifully and it reduces trash fees and garden expenses like buying compost.
In paragraph 22 of the encyclical Laudato Si, Care for our Common Home, Pope Francis wrote “We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them.” One thing that we can do now is composting — it allows for food waste to return to the ecosystem from which it came. When we throw food scraps into the garbage, they mingle with other trash. When we put all the food scraps into one bucket, we can see the amount of food we waste. When we can see what we wasted, we can make better decisions at the grocery store or eat the leftovers before we cook another meal.
Composting also helps address Climate Change. We need to consider the amount of energy it took to grow that wasted food. Also, think of the farmer’s cost to plant the food, the expense of harvesting the food, the expense to transport it to the market. All these activities are fossil fuel based. Tractors, delivery trucks, and garbage trucks all run on oil and gas that add carbon to our atmosphere.
Not everyone is able to compost. At the Hermitage, we have room to put in a composter far enough away to keep critters from getting too near our home, but close enough for easy access. Most towns have some sort of composting. Research your neighborhood and see who can help you compost your food scraps. We all can pay attention to the food we waste and see where we can cut down the amount of food that we throw away.
Why did St Francis write the Canticle of Creatures? He said “I wish to compose a new hymn about the Lord’s creatures, of which we make daily use, without which we cannot live, and with which the human race greatly offends its Creator.” (pg. 113 in Francis of Assisi, The Saint.) We still offend the Creator by not acknowledging how dependent we are on creation. Gratitude, care for our common home and humility are all tied together in living a truly Franciscan life. Composting is one small thing we can do to acknowledge the gift from God and for all God’s creatures.