Why compost?! According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 24% of our nation’s waste consists of organic, compostable materials. If we all started composting at home, millions of tons of organic waste would be diverted from landfills, reducing greenhouse gases from hitting the atmosphere.
Composting is a natural way to recycle certain food and yard products. It is also an opportunity for people to help the environment and enrich the soil for plants to grow. Did you know, composting at home for just one year can save global warming gases equivalent to all the CO2 your kettle produces annually, or your washing machine produces in three months?
Composting turns waste into “black gold.” Compost is nutrient-rich organic matter that has decomposed in the presence of oxygen (aerobic digestion). This process of decomposition is called composting, starting a process of regenerative cycling and ultimately benefiting the entire nutrient cycle. At home, you can use compost for your lawn, garden, or house plants.
Composting can be successful in almost any setting, from indoor bins in condos or apartments, to outdoor piles in backyards, to office spaces where compostable material is collected and taken to an external composting facility.
Benefits of Composting at Home
1. Reduces Landfill Waste
The EPA estimates that one-fourth of waste in our landfills could have been composted. Composting not only removes content from our landfills but utilizes that content. One of the most important benefits of composting, and the nearest and dear to us, is the reduction of methane emissions from landfills. This powerful greenhouse gas enters the atmosphere as the food in landfills decomposes without proper airflow.
2. Creates Nutrient Rich Soil
Compost returns valuable nutrients to the soil to help maintain soil quality and fertility. It is a mild, slow-release, natural fertilizer that won’t burn plants like chemical fertilizers. Composting increases the quality of soil by increasing the number of organic materials and micronutrients.
3. Saves Energy
Composting at home reduces your trash output, which decreases the number of trash pickups you need. Fewer trips to the dump, hauling smaller volumes of waste, means less fossil fuels burned by garbage trucks.
Going green can be expensive. Buying local foods or making the decision to purchase products made in America can cost significantly more than their less-environmentally-friendly counterparts. Composting may only require a purchasing a receptacle to recycle your waste.
5. Saves You Money
Not only will you save the environment by composting at home, but you’ll also keep your wallet happy. Less watering means lower water bills. Kicking the chemical fertilizers means fewer trips to the home improvement store. And infrequent trash pickups results in reduced waste fees.
How do I know what to compost?
- Fruit and vegetable scraps, whether fresh, cooked, frozen or completely moldy.
- Tea (with the bag unless the bag is plastic)
- Coffee grounds (including paper filters)
- Plant prunings, leaves, and grass cuttings
Make sure to break yard waste into small pieces before throwing into a composting heap and avoid diseased leaves and plants as they may infect your compost.
How do I compost?
- Place items you want to compost together in a bin or pile with plenty of airflow.
- Keep your compost moist and, if it smells, add more leaves, brown paper, or grass clippings (the “browns”) to balance out the “greens”—the fruit and veggie scraps that are causing the stink as they break down.
- Keep adding browns and greens and, when the volume becomes difficult to manage, begin a new pile and let the old pile finish off (break down so that it is completely black and does not have large pieces of recognizable food waste) before adding it to the soil.