"Can I play with this?" my son's friend asked, pulling the very last of fall's pumpkins off the kitchen counter. The pumpkin that I'd neglected. Purposefully overlooked. Ignored for months. Sure, it would have made a lovely soup or an even better pie. Heck, I could have pureed it and mixed it into the boys' mac and cheese.
But I didn't.
I let that round, orange Sugar Pie lurk unloved for months until a six year yanked it off the counter and revealed the soft, moldy spot underneath.
"It's rotten," I explained, showing both boys the spreading mush. I then open up the under the sink drawer and tossed the pumpkin - mold and all - into a plastic green bucket.
For two years, I've tried my hand at backyard composting. Three big black bins lounge on top of each other under the lemon tree as watermelon rinds, orange peels and coffee grounds accumulate underneath. Every couple of days, I add a brimming bucket to its ever-shrinking contents and, while I was never very good at turning the compost or managing just the right ratio of browns to greens, my efforts do continue to shrink the contents of our garbage can.
As I toted my green bucket, rotting pumpkin and all, to the compost bin, I thought that, while I may have missed the boat on food waste reduction, at least my food waste isn't a total waste. That pumpkin may not be a pie or a muffin but it will enrich the soil someday and reduce methane in our landfills.
Being green isn't about being perfect. There are mistakes by the dozen. Missteps, one car-ride too many, an accidental plastic produce bag, the pizza that, while delicious, was neither local nor organic.
It is, though, about effort and about awareness. About those small steps that we take - choosing the reusable glass bottle of local milk, checking books out from the library or buying jeans at the local thrift store. And it is about growth. About looking for the next way to decrease our planetary load.
Closing the lid on the compost bin, I headed back to the house, with a lighter garbage can and a promise to, next time, transform that pumpkin into pie.