Last week I was off to California with my family for a little adventure when I spotted a curious site. A noodle shop I ate at with my girls didn’t have a garbage can; it had a compost bin and a recycling bin. Isn’t that amazing and baffling at the same time?!
Now, I know a bit about composting but don’t actively compost myself. It’s on my life list but right now it’s just not doable. One of the reasons I am not composting at home is because I really haven’t found out that much about it and beyond it being great fertilizer for my garden, I’m not too sure of the benefits and how it helps the Earth for me to compost.
So off I went to investigate.
What is composting?
Compost is organic material that can be used as a soil amendment or as a medium to grow plants. Mature compost is a stable material with a content called humus that is dark brown or black and has a soil-like, earthy smell. It is created by: combining organic wastes (e.g., yard trimmings, food wastes, manures) in proper ratios into piles, rows, or vessels; adding bulking agents (e.g., wood chips) as necessary to accelerate the breakdown of organic materials; and allowing the finished material to fully stabilize and mature through a curing process.
How does composting help the Earth?
- Food scraps make up 7% of household waste, on average. Some (but not all) can be composted.
- Food is biodegradable, but in order for it to break down in a landfill, it needs access to a basic combination of air, water, light, microbes, and enzymes. Unfortunately these aren’t readily available in an overstuffed landfill.
- As kitchen scraps struggle to break down in non-optimal conditions, they create methane, a greenhouse gas at least 20 times more heat-absorbent than CO2.
- Reduces the need for water, fertilizers, and pesticides.
So as you can see there is a tremendous value in collecting food scraps and turning them into humus for plants and gardens. Here are some resources that tell you how to start a compost at home:
- Practically Green: Composting Guide For Girls Who Don’t Like Worms
- YouTube: How A Bokashi System Works
- YouTube: How To Worm Farm Compost
- Earth 911: Composting While Cooking — A Guide For The Kitchen
- EPA.gov: Basic Information — Composting
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