If anyone ever wanted to do a social experiment on “habit beyond all reason” the first place they should start is my kitchen. At the Memorial House I got into the habit of sorting all of the trash into garbage, burnables, compost, and recyclables, and it became so ingrained in my routine that for the last three weeks you could often find me wandering aimlessly from sink to fridge to pantry with a banana peel in my hand, trying to figure out what the hell to do with compostable items without an actual compost bin to put them in.
That problem increased tenfold with burnable items, which I started hoarding in various rooms of the house even though there was a perfectly good half-empty 30-yard dumpster sitting right in my driveway. So finally, last week, when I found I had to turn sideways and suck in to squeeze through the narrow maze of junk mail, paper bags, and empty boxes lining the mudroom and hallway to the kitchen, I decided something had to be done.
Now, I’ve found four wheelbarrows in various states of disrepair and one mini-landfill on this property, mind you, but there wasn’t a 55 gallon drum that could be used as a burn barrel in sight. And so I bit the bullet and did something that you will be shocked to learn I had never done before– bought something through Craigslist.
I know, right? My mom has bought things off Craigslist, and here I am all holed up with my shotgun giving the stink-eye to any kind of newfangled technology that would require going to a strangers house with cash to buy something out of their garage.
However, I was soon going to find myself on an episode of hoarders, and a $20 burn barrel within a few miles of my house was too good of a deal to pass up. Turns out the seller was a very nice gentleman who got a kick out of me showing up at 7:30 in the morning in my fancy work clothes and then manhandling a 55 gallon drum into the back of my SUV. Hey, a girls gotta do…
Right now I have the most basic set up possible, because, frankly, I don’t have time for anything fancier at the moment. It went something like this:
Steal a couple of 8″ concrete blocks from my rubble pile…
Set my shiny new barrel on them…
And light ‘er up.
However, before anyone gets up in arms about the dioxins I’m responsible for putting into the atmosphere, I have a few things to say:
- I don’t burn garbage. I burn “clean” paper… paper shopping bags, newspaper, paper towels, and cardboard. The only bad thing I put in the burn barrel is junk mail that contains dyes., and it’s a very small percentage of what I burn.
- I do have plans to turn this into an actual high-temp incinerator eventually. The reason burn barrels are discouraged is because they burn at a low temperature due to the lack of oxygen inside the barrel, and from what I understand this is what releases the dioxins into the atmosphere. So one of my future projects will be to turn this into something like this.
For now I’m going to stick with the standard throw-it-in-the-barrel-with-a-match kind of burning, however, because I’m lazy and hate the environment. Or because I have a 150 year old house that keeps surprising me with fun little things like the kitchen sink filling with water every time I take a shower, and I just need to get the trash out of my living space.
This, my friends, is country living at it’s finest. And hey, if you’re going to do it, burn responsibly.