Composting is one of the easiest ways to incorporate sustainability into one’s daily lifestyle. It’s an eco-friendly way to deal with waste that we already produce and make a positive environmental impact while doing so. Composting allows you to fight climate change and lower your carbon footprint from the comfort of your home or neighborhood community. In this post, we’ll explain what composting is, why you should want to compost, and how to start composting on your own.
What is Composting, and Why Does it Matter?
Composting is the act of creating compost - organic material that improves soil quality and helps plants grow - from food or yard scraps. These scraps would otherwise be thrown away and sent to landfills, releasing greenhouse gases and contributing to our global excess waste. The EPA claims that yard trimmings and food scraps make up roughly 30% of the garbage in the United States. Composting can help change this statistic for the better of our climate.
In addition to preventing future greenhouse gas emissions, composting can help improve the existing local environment. Compost is a soil amendment, which improves soil quality and thus improves the ability of plants in the soil to grow. The richness and effectiveness of compost as a soil amendment has earned it the nickname “Black Gold” among seasoned gardeners.
The creation of this “Black Gold” compost is simple, cheap, and easy. It’s a quick alternative to throwing out your items. You can learn how to enact this planet-saving process in your own home in a few simple steps.
How to Start Composting:
Figure Out What to Compost
Make sure you’re composting the correct materials to achieve optimal results. You can compost all sorts of plant matter, like fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, yard trimmings, houseplants, and leaves. However, avoid materials like meat, cheese, oils, and pet waste. These materials can create a nasty odor and attract pests or contain harmful parasites and bacteria.
Organize Your Composting Materials
You need to organize your compost pile to hold certain amounts of different materials. The EPA recommends stocking your compost pile with an equal amount of “browns” and “greens.” Browns are plant material that you are likely to find outside, such as dead leaves, twigs, or branches. Greens are food and yard scraps such as vegetable waste, fruit scraps, or grass clippings. Moisten the dry parts of your compost (usually the browns) with water. Cut larger pieces of browns or greens shorter.
Use a Compost Bin in Your Backyard
Using an outside space on your property or in your neighborhood is the ideal method for composting. The best spot to choose for your compost bin placement is a shady, dry area close to a water source. You can build your own compost bin made of wood or purchase a compost tumbler from any home improvement or gardening store. You need to manually turn compost tumblers every few days to rotate the contents of the compost. Your compost will be ready in several weeks, whenever the compost bin/tumbler contents look like dark soil.
Use a Compost Bin Indoors
Many people don’t have access to an outdoor area for composting and need to use a compost bin that accommodates a smaller indoor space. For these kinds of compost bins, using a plastic container with a lid, a garbage can, or a wooden crate would work as long as the bin size can hold weeks of food scraps and other composting materials in it. Then, to allow airflow into the bin, drill holes in the bottom of the lid. Of course, if you’d like to forego this process, you can purchase an indoor compost bin that already has air holes in it.
You can either compost your materials indoors by the method of aerobic composting or vermicomposting. If aerobic composting, fill three-quarters of the bin with damp browns (dead leaves, newspaper shreds, cardboard pieces, etc.) and add a layer of gardening soil to the top. Then bury your greens (fruits & veggies, coffee grounds, grass clippings) in the soil layer. Aerobic composting will take several months for the contents of the bin to turn into compost.
Vermicomposting may take less time and is usually the more effective option, but it requires the help of some creepy-crawly friends. If vermicomposting, add a layer of red worms to the soil. Once a week, add your food and yard waste to the layer of worms and soil. The worms will decompose the greens and excrete the organic material that makes up the compost.
Tips and Reminders for Composting
If you’re unsure whether or not a certain kind of material can be composted, check online or with an expert before you chuck it in your bin. Certain materials can be harmful or produce foul odors. Composting is extremely simple when done right, but one wrong food scrap could ruin your whole compost pile.
There is a plethora of information on composting available on the internet for free. Use it! The world wide web allows you to get as creative with your composting as you’d like. To DIY or not to DIY, that is the question!
Sustainable brands are using compostable packaging for their products or even making entirely compostable products more and more to meet consumer demand for items with lower environmental impacts. Plenty of compostable products and packaging are available on Well-Made World’s site. Once you’ve got your own composting system up and running, be sure to look for compostable alternatives to materials like single-use plastics, styrofoam, and paper. Composting is an inexpensive, easy step you can take towards a more Well-Made World.