Compost is simply the term for what organic material becomes after it decomposes. This organic material is perfect for adding to gardens or farms to help plants grow as it mirrors a natural process. There are many reasons that people start composting, but some of the biggest are reducing environmental impact, creating natural fertilizer, and improving soil for a healthier garden. The yield from a home compost can provide a much richer and nutrient-packed soil than a store-bought fertilizer.
Compost helps us reduce our carbon footprint by reducing the amount we throw away to be taken to landfills. Organic waste from our yards and kitchens makes up over 30% of what we throw away. We can easily compost this material for an opportunity to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
When starting your home composting project, you can begin to consider three types of waste when you are deciding what to compost.
- Browns – Brown materials will mostly be made up of yard waste like branches, dead leaves, sawdust, and others.
- Greens – Greens will include materials like lawn clippings, rotten veggies, old fruit, coffee grounds, and tea bags.
- Water – You need the right amount of moisture content for healthy compost development. Ensure that your pile doesn’t become too dry or overly wet.
You should seek to have around an equal distribution of brown and green organic material with healthy water content. Your compost project should have carbon provided from the brown material and nitrogen from the greens. Moisture will help in breaking down all compounds.
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Things That Are Great to Compost
Here are some common household wastes that are fantastic additions to compost piles. Think twice before throwing the following items in your trash bin or recycling!
- Old fruit or cores
- Coffee grounds
- Coffee filters
- Yard trimmings
- Lawn clippings
- Dead houseplants
- Hay or straw
- Dead leaves
- Wood chips
- Hair or fur
- Fireplace ashes
Things You Should Not Compost
- Anything treated with pesticides – Items treated with chemical pesticides may kill off beneficial composting organisms.
- Ash from coal or charcoal – Coal or charcoal waste commonly found from barbeques may contain substances harmful to plants.
- Dairy products and eggs – Waste from these items will create a terrible odor and attract pests. Eggshells are completely fine, but no yolks or whites.
- Diseased plants – Diseases or insects might survive and be transferred back to other plants
- Fats, grease, or oil – These also can create bad odors and attract pests like rodents and flies
- Meat or Fish – Create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
- Pet waste – You will not want to compost any feces from your dog, cat, or other pets as they may contain parasites or viruses that could be harmful to people.
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Main Benefits of Composting
Apart from there being many benefits to composting, it can also be a fun hobby for new homeowners!
Compost consists of three essential ingredients that garden plants need, including phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen. Furthermore, compost also contains several other vital nutrients such as magnesium, zinc, iron, and even calcium! Due to these nutritional elements, composting enriches the soil and helps maintain healthy moisture levels.
Research even shows the power of compost as it boosts the soil’s productivity, capacity, and resiliency for retaining water. It also encourages nutrient-rich soil by combating plant diseases and pests. Composting also produces beneficial and natural bacteria and fungus that assist in breaking organic matter down during decomposition.
Composting is an excellent alternative to buying expensive, ineffective chemical fertilizers. Composting can save money if you grow a personal garden or have a small farm.
Reduces Food Waste
An average family in the United States throws out $150 worth of food every month, a significant increase of 50% compared to the 1970s. Interestingly enough, the biggest category contributing to this food waste was vegetables and fruits. The best way to inhibit the damage of food waste to the environment is to prevent it as much as possible!
Throughout the United States, agriculture is one of the biggest water consumers, making up as much as 80% of the nation’s total consumption. Further, systems to irrigate the water are time-consuming and highly costly for farmers to oversee. What’s more, there is an increasing amount of difficulty accessing water throughout the nation in today’s time.
Luckily, compost can help conserve water because of its organic material. Every 1 percent addition in organic matter enables the soil to keep 20,000 gallons more water per acre of land. Implementing compost in the soil means agricultural workers don’t have to use as much water as now!
Minimizes Landfill Methane Emissions
Composting helps to reduce methane emissions in landfills and removes transportation and fuel emissions. Landfill waste consists of piles of trash where compostable waste gets cut off from oxygen, preventing healthy aerobic decomposition. As a result, the waste is broken down by organisms that don’t depend on flowing oxygen, an environmentally-harmful process called anaerobic decomposition.
During anaerobic decomposition, biogas is created consisting of half methane and half carbon dioxide, two destructive greenhouse gases that unfortunately get released into the atmosphere. As such, landfills are one of the three most significant sources of human-generated methane emissions in the United States. Roughly a quarter of landfill waste could have been composted, effectively saving 60 million tons of waste every year that’s currently going to landfills.
Composting also reduces the impact of chemical fertilizers when they leak into the water system. Synthetic fertilizers and chemicals are often dumped into gardens and backyards, eventually running off into local streams and traveling into the oceans, resulting in algae blooms and dead zones.
As a healthier and non-destructive alternative, compost can reduce the chances of toxic sediment reaching the sea since it can act as a filter. Specifically, compost can minimize the runoff of metals, chemicals, fertilizers, and other pollutants from disrupting and damaging ocean waters.
It’s Affordable & Fun
Composting is almost effortless. Composting only requires a generic container in your kitchen that you take out to a daily compost bin. Further, composting is also cost-effective! Starting a compost pile or adding an enclosure to the side of a house only costs a few dollars. Similarly, composting doesn’t have to be an eye-sore!
There have never been more attractive options for compost bins and pales. Your compost heap doesn’t have to be an unsightly mess in the corner of your yard! There are many resources for building a chic modern compost bin that will make your yard look even better.
Composting can be a fun project that will help you become a more sustainable homeowner!
- Composting enriches the soil and helps maintain healthy moisture levels. It also promotes healthy soil by combating plant diseases and pests.
- Removes the need for store-bought or chemical fertilizers. You can also save a lot of money by composting if you are growing your own garden or small farm.
- Produces healthy and natural bacteria and fungus that assist in breaking organic matter down during decomposition.
- It helps to reduce methane emissions in landfills and removes transportation and fuel emissions. It reduces the impact that chemical fertilizers have when they leak into the water system. An estimated quarter of all waste in landfills could be composted. This would save 60 million tons from landfills every year.
- Composting is almost effortless! All you need to do is have a container in your kitchen to take out to your compost bin every day.
- There have never been more attractive options for compost bins and pales. Your compost heap doesn’t have to be an unsightly mess in the corner of your yard! There are a huge number of resources for building a chic modern compost bin that will make your yard look even better.
- Composting is extremely affordable. It only costs a few dollars tops to get a starting enclosure to house your compost pile.
How to Get Started Composting
1) Set up your composting area – Unfortunately, you will probably need a yard to start composting unless you have access to a community garden or a friendly neighbor’s compost pile! Your compost station should be within reach of a hose and ideally not too far of a walk from the house for easy access. You can start construction in this area!
2) Build or buy your compost enclosure – You can either build or buy an enclosure for your compost. This can be as simple as some hog wire or fancy as a chic wood structure from a DIY site.
3) Begin composting! – You can now begin daily contributions to the compost pile, which can be quite satisfying. You will be able to watch your waste like banana peels and coffee grounds turn into fertile new beginnings for garden soil.
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Now that you know all the benefits of composting you can get started today! When it comes to increasing your sustainability, almost nothing is easier. There are many other things you can do to contribute to creating an environmentally friendly home or business. Things like installing solar energy or using sustainable and compostable materials can do wonders for your carbon footprint. PlantSwitch is committed to bringing the best sustainable products to consumers and businesses every day.