The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that over 20% of the”garbage” that we put in to our waste stream is actually compost-able material. Things like yard trimmings and food scraps can easily be turned in to a useful material – compost – in your backyard. What’s the benefit of composting? When we throw, food scraps for example, in the garbage, they eventually end up in landfills, despite the fact that they are naturally biodegradable. In landfills, they are exposed to, and emit some, methane gasses that (along with other factors) prevent them from biodegrading. Thus, they sit in landfills for years, taking up space, and contributing to methane gas emissions.
Composting is one of the many easy things you can do in your daily life, like using reusable shopping bags and recycling, to help conserve our environment. Not only does it save landfill space, but it also creates a very valuable resource. Home gardeners or even those concerned about the health of their yard can use mature compost as a free fertilizer that is full of nutrients that plants love for their disease-resistant properties.
So what if you don’t have a yard, a garden, or even a couple indoor plants? You can still find places that will readily accept your compost. Local municipalities often accept compost as part of their disposal program – similar to accepting yard waste. You can also check local government websites for organizations in your area (such as gardening clubs) that may accept compost. And chances are good that even if you don’t have a use for compost, you know somebody that does. If all of those options fail, you can go so far as to advertise your compost on local forums and bulletin boards – gardeners in your area will be happy to take it off your hands.
With the exception of meats, dairy, and oils, most food scraps can be composted in open heaps outside or covered bins inside. Even non-food items like hair, wood chips, clean paper, coffee grounds, tea, and pine needles can be added to the mix. Composting is as simple as tossing the materials in a bin and”managing” the pile by turning it over every week or so. You can identify a”mature” compost by it’s earthy-smelling, dark, and crumbly state. Original materials should not be recognizable. A mature compost can be used as fertilizer”as-is” without making any additions or changes to the material.
Most compost takes a couple of months to mature, although some can take longer or could be faster, depending on what is in the compost. A quick search on the web for”how to compost” will point you in the direction of numerous resources with more than enough information to get started. If you’re already making efforts to improve our environment by using reusable bags and recycling the materials that you can, it may be time to consider taking another simple step at home and try composting. Mother Earth will thank your grandchildren.