Before writing this, I admit I had to figure out exactly what composting was. I wanted to make sure I was giving you guys the best information, but I didn’t know as much about this as I wish I had. I’m definitely someone who cares deeply about recycling and doing what I can to help the environment, but I didn’t realize the benefits of a homemade compost and how much our own food waste could be beneficial to us and our gardens. Otherwise, it simply travels to landfills, which does more damage than good.
In addition to searching the internet for the best advice on composting, I talked to my Aunt’s cousin, Liz Czopp, who has done her own compost since 2010 after learning about it from her grandparents and other community programs.
What Is A Compost?
Composting is the action of combining yard debris, such as grass or leaves, and kitchen scraps, including fruit and vegetable scraps, and placing it in an environmentally friendly area, such as your backyard. By doing this, you’re separating the scraps from from the waste stream and preventing them from ending up in landfills. Basically, by composting you’re naturally recycling your food waste into soil that then spreads rich nutrients to the earth and aids plant growth.
How to Start
1. Figure out where to put your container
Your container doesn’t have to be fancy or really big, it just needs to be a space where you can combine your waste with the yard debris. If you want to have your compost pile in your backyard, simply pick a back corner. A container is good to keep it more organized, but is not necessary. The trick to the container is to get one without a bottom so that your scraps can be exposed to the soil underneath the container.
Liz collects kitchen scraps in a stainless steel bucket with a charcoal filter to minimize odor. Her compost bins are two 3ft x 3ft squares built with wire fencing.
2. Start Collecting
For yard debris, you can put in leaves, dying plants, weeds, and garden waste. In your kitchen, place a bucket by your sink so you can easily collect your food scraps. However, avoid any meat, bones, processed foods, dairy, or pet food. Vegetables, fruits, egg shells, and coffee or tea grounds are really good for your compost.
Liz’s two squares are for the different stages in the process. In one square container, she throws kitchen scraps and yard waste (grass, leaves, etc.). The other container is for the scraps that are further along in the decomposition process.
3. Be patient
It will take a little while, but composting will work over time. Keep adding on additional compost materials, and after a few months you’ll have rich, dark, fertile compost to spread around.
For Liz, she wasn’t able to use her compost until the spring following when she first began composting, which was several months later.
4. Use it
You don’t have to use it since you’ve already made a great leap by keeping waste out of landfills and other waste streams. However, it’s great to use and wants to be used. You can put it on your vegetables in your garden to help them grow or on your flowers for the same purpose. You can also sprinkle it on your house plants if you don’t have much of a garden to use it for. It’s great for growing healthy, pest-free gardens.
Liz loves using her compost in her vegetable garden to help them grow strong and healthy. Liz’s main recommendation is to use three bins instead of two to include all the stages of decomposition.
The Benefits of Compositing
Composting helps eliminate greenhouse gases, as less methane-producing waste is going to landfills. This in turn aids in reducing your carbon footprint. It also helps reduce the amount of pesticides in the ground, because the compost has nutrients that help your plants grow in a healthier way. On top of that, you’re using less fertilizer, as compost has better nutrients for your garden than fertilizers do. Also, chemical fertilizers are hurting your wallets as well as the environment, so by having a compost you save money, and who doesn’t want to do that.
More importantly, composting could reduce 36 million tons of food waste from landfills if everyone practiced it. Composting is not only great for your plants and flowers, your own health, and the planet’s health, but it can be fun too, as it’s a new project you might not have ever tried before. I think it’s great to recycle back to the environment, and it’s easy too, so give it a try this semester.