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What’s the Scoop About Composting and Why Compost Now?

What's the Scoop About Composting?

Composting offers an environmentally superior alternative to placing organic material in landfills because composting reduces methane production.

Methane is 26 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas and is a significant contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. In a landfill, decomposing organic material in anaerobic conditions (by microbes in the absence of oxygen) releases methane into the atmosphere. Anaerobic fermentation is common in landfills and open stockpiles such as manure piles. Global emissions from waste have almost doubled since 1970; and according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, landfills contribute 15.1% of methane emissions found in our atmosphere.

These emissions are from bokash the organic matter in landfills – waste that could be composted by us instead!

Compost is an organic fertilizer created from decomposing natural matter. You can create it yourself using plant-based food scraps, and combining them with dry leaves, grass clippings, and other organic matter. In the presence of oxygen and water, microbes (such as bacteria and fungi) use carbon for energy and decompose the organic wastes. During the decomposition process, heat is produced which kills pathogens and seeds.The remaining carbon is stable humus that is weed-free and safe to use for agriculture, landscaping, gardening or other purposes. The final composted material can be mixed with your soil providing living soil microbes that provide additional nutrients for your plants.

Household composting is easier than you might think.

There are many methods you can use including bokashi, worm composting (vermiculture), and more convenient backyard barrels/tumblers, bins, or piles.

How to Build a Compost Pile

  1. Start with some garden soil or build your pile directly on bare earth (allows worms and other organisms to aerate the compost).

  2. Add a few inches of twigs or straw to aid drainage and help aerate the pile.

  3. Next, add nitrogen or protein-rich matter (manures, food scraps, green lawn clippings, kitchen waste, and green leaves) to provide raw materials for making enzymes.

  4. Add more carbon matter (branches, stems, dried leaves, peels, bits of wood, bark dust or sawdust pellets, shredded brown paper bags, corn stalks, coffee filters, coffee grounds, conifer needles, egg shells, straw, peat moss, wood ash) to promote airflow. Unless you are using a composter designed specifically for the purpose, avoid adding meat, bones, or fish scraps since they may attract pests.

  5. Continue alternating moist nitrogen matter with dry carbon matter

  6. Keep compost moist but not wet.

  7. Turn the compost occasionally, if desired, to aerate the pile and speed decomposition. If you buy a composter, a rotating style makes mixing the compost easier.

The secret to a healthy compost pile is the carbon/nitrogen ratio. A healthy compost pile should have much more carbon than nitrogen. A simple rule of thumb is to use one-third green and two-thirds brown materials. The bulkiness of the brown materials allows oxygen to penetrate and nourish the organisms that reside there. Too much nitrogen makes for a dense, smelly, slowly decomposing anaerobic mass. By covering the fresh nitrogen-rich material with carbon-rich material, the compost often exudes a fresh, wonderful smell. If in doubt, add more carbon!

Compost, this wonderful “black gold,” has amazing benefits that go far beyond your plants, your soil, and your garden.

  • Cuts methane emissions from the atmosphere.

  • Keeps carbon out of the atmosphere.

  • Lessens or eliminates the need for chemical fertilizer.

  • Adds nutrients and valuable organisms to the soil.

  • Helps the soil retain moisture.

  • May reduce rubbish pick-up and disposal costs as well as transportation-related emissions.

The most beautiful thing about composting at home, and keeping your trash out of landfills is that possible pollution and emissions are transformed into amazing food for your garden. And if you garden a lot, this cuts down on your grocery bill and trips to the store for products shipped from far away. Food for your garden, is food for your plants, which is food for us!

It could all start with—and gain speed—if it became a common household practice.

While it sounds like magical thinking, it’s not— it’s backed by real science. Composting can help heal our planet!

Like anything else, it all starts with you. Knowing composting could heal the earth, will you try it now?

Want to make a bigger impact?

If composting was done on a much larger scale (which is already being done municipally in some cities), we could reduce pollution and emissions significantly.

If farms of all sizes relied on compost diverted from landfills instead of chemical fertilizers, the land, the soil, and our waterways would recover. We would be keeping pollution and emissions out of the atmosphere— and we’d be growing healthy, nutritious food.

Landfills could provide composting bins for kitchen and yard waste creating a compost that could be sold, given away, or used for daily landfill cover.

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