Composting is nature's way of recycling organic material and turning it into nutrient-rich soil. It's a process that turns food scraps, yard waste, and other organic materials into usable, natural fertilizer that can be used to grow healthy plants and vegetables. By composting at home, you can reduce the amount of organic waste that goes to landfills and improve the health of your soil and environment at the same time. Read on to learn more about how to compost at home and the many benefits of this eco-friendly practice!
BENEFITS OF COMPOSTING
asNot only does composting help reduce waste in landfills, but it also enhances soil nutrients and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers. It's an all-around win for both the environment and our wallets. Composting can benefit us and the planet by:
One of the most significant benefits of composting is reducing waste in landfills. Food scraps and yard waste that end up in landfills release methane gas into the atmosphere, a dangerous greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. According to the EPA, food waste alone makes up 24% of all waste in landfills. By composting at home, we can reduce the amount of waste we produce and cut down on landfill-bound methane emissions.
ENHANCING SOIL NUTRIENTS
Another benefit of composting is enhancing the nutrient content of the soil. Compost, also known as "black gold," is a natural and nutrient-rich fertilizer that can help improve soil structure, water retention, and plant growth. By adding compost to your garden, you're helping to restore the balance of nutrients in soils that may have otherwise been depleted from chemical fertilizers.
REDUCING METHANE AND CARBON DIOXIDE
Composting reduces methane emissions from landfills and reduces carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. The decomposition process that is aided by composting food rather than throwing it in the trash produces less carbon dioxide than the decomposition of materials in landfills. Through composting, we can reduce our carbon footprint and help slow the effects of climate change.
LOWERING CHEMICAL FERTILIZER USAGE
Compost also helps eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers. These fertilizers can damage soil quality and cause water pollution, harming both the environment and our health. Composting is a natural way to increase soil nutrients, reduce soil erosion, and restore habitats and wetlands. Compost will allow you to grow healthier and more resistant plants without the negative impact of chemicals in the environment.
IMPROVING HUMAN AND ANIMAL HEALTH
Using compost can promote better yields of fruits and vegetables, making them healthier and more nutrient-dense for human and animal consumption. Plus, composting helps to reduce pesticide use on crops, which can ultimately lead to harmful effects on human health and toxicity in soils and waterways that can make its way into animals.
Composting is a valuable resource that benefits not only our environment but also our health. By reducing waste, enhancing soil nutrients, reducing methane and carbon dioxide emissions, eliminating the need for chemical fertilizers, and improving human and animal health, composting offers an all-around win for us all. It's time to get composting and reduce your negative impact on the environment!
Composting is a simple and effective way to reduce waste, enhance soil nutrients, and promote healthier plant growth. Whether you have a small backyard or live in an apartment, there are lots of different methods of composting and different ways you can get started. We will explore some easy and practical steps to help you start composting at home and reap the benefits for both the environment and your garden.
GATHER THE MATERIALS NEEDED FOR COMPOSTING
First, make sure you have dedicated space to compost with a compost bin or pile. There are many different types of compost bins on the market, ranging from simple wire enclosures to more elaborate tumbler systems. You can also create a compost pile in your yard using nothing more than some wire fencing or wooden pallets. The size and type of bin or enclosure will mostly depend on how much space you have and how much compost you anticipate having.
Next, start gathering your composting materials. Composting requires both nitrogen-rich materials and carbon-rich materials. Nitrogen-rich materials, also known as "greens," are any materials that are green, moist, and typically come from the kitchen. This can include vegetable scraps like carrot tops and onion skins, as well as coffee grounds and tea bags.
Carbon-rich materials, also known as "browns," are any materials that are dry, brown, and typically come from the yard or garden. This can include dead leaves, straw, and even shredded newspaper. Other materials that can be added to the compost pile or bin include eggshells, untreated wood chips, and even pet and human hair.
When gathering your materials, keep in mind that a good ratio is about three parts browns to one part greens. Browns are a great source of carbon, which provides energy for the microorganisms that break down the materials in your compost pile. Greens are a great source of nitrogen, which helps to speed up the composting process.
SETTING UP A COMPOST BIN/PILE IN YOUR YARD/HOME
- Choose an accessible space
Select an easily accessible area to place your compost bin/pile. Make sure it has good drainage and is not located right up against a fence.
- Decide on a bin structure
You can build a compost bin/pile with various materials, such as wire, wood, and cinder blocks. An enclosed design or barrel/tumbler option can also be successful. Choose a design that suits your needs and composting goals.
- Start your compost pile
Begin your compost pile with a layer of bulky browns, such as dry leaves or twigs. Follow that with alternating layers of "greens," like vegetable scraps and grass clippings, and "browns," such as shredded newspaper or cardboard. Repeat this process until your bin or pile is full.
- Maintain proper moisture and air circulation
For the composting process to work effectively, the pile needs to remain moist, but not too wet. Moisten it occasionally and turn it over with a garden fork (or regular kitchen fork if it's on your apartment counter!) to ensure proper air circulation. This helps to prevent bad odors and fruit flies.
TOOLS NEEDED FOR COMPOSTING
Composting is a simple and rewarding process, and with the right tools, it can be even easier and more efficient. You don't need a lot of money to start composting; just a few essential tools will set you on the right path to creating nutritious "black gold" for your garden.
- Pitchfork or Garden Fork
A pitchfork or garden fork is a valuable tool for composting and helps to turn over the compost pile. Turning the compost not only aerates it but also ensures that it heats up evenly, speeding up the composting process. It's best to use a steel pitchfork that can easily puncture through the compost while being strong and durable.
- Moisture Meter
A moisture meter helps to determine the level of moisture content in your compost pile. It's essential to have the correct level of moisture in your compost, which is around 50%. If the compost is too dry, it can slow down the decomposition process, while if it's too moist, it can lead to bad odors or even pests. Moisture meters are available at hardware stores, or you can simply use your hand and feel the compost to determine the moisture level.
- Compost Thermometer
A compost thermometer is used to track the temperature of the compost pile. It's a vital tool in monitoring the composting process, as the ideal temperature for composting is around 150°F. This temperature range ensures that harmful pathogens and weed seeds are destroyed and also accelerates the breakdown of organic materials. You can purchase a compost thermometer online or from your local hardware store.
- Bin Liners or Compostable Bags
Bin liners or compostable bags are an excellent tool for making composting a hassle-free process. It's best to choose compostable bags that break down with the compost or biodegradable bags that can be sent to a commercial composting facility. These bags prevent scraps and waste from sticking or getting trapped in the bin, making it much easier to dispose of them.
- Basic Garden Hose or Watering Can
Last but not least is a basic garden hose or watering can, which is essential for keeping your compost pile damp. It's essential to maintain the proper moisture level in the compost, and watering your pile regularly is the best way to do that. You can use a garden hose or a watering can to do this; just make sure to use a gentle flow of water so that you don't flood the pile.
ADDING MATERIALS TO YOUR COMPOST PILE/BIN
Now you're ready to add materials. From food scraps to yard waste, there are plenty of organic materials that can be added to your compost.
- Nitrogen-Rich Materials (aka "Greens")
Nitrogen-rich materials are essential for healthy composting because they provide the necessary proteins and amino acids that microorganisms need to thrive. These materials are also high in moisture, which helps to keep the compost pile moist. Some examples of nitrogen-rich materials include:
- Fruit and vegetable scraps: Any leftover produce from your kitchen can be added to your compost pile, such as banana peels, apple cores, and carrot tops.
- Coffee grounds: Coffee grounds are high in nitrogen and can be added directly to your compost pile. Just make sure to balance them out with enough carbon-rich materials.
- Grass clippings: Fresh grass clippings are ideal because they contain a good amount of nitrogen and moisture. Just be careful not to add too much at once, as it can cause the pile to become too moist.
- Carbon-Rich Materials (aka "Browns")
Carbon-rich materials provide the energy that microorganisms need to break down the organic matter in your compost pile. They also help to prevent the pile from becoming too moist. Some examples of carbon-rich materials include:
- Dead leaves: Dry leaves are an excellent source of carbon and can be added to your compost pile in large quantities.
- Shredded cardboard/paper: Newspaper, cardboard, and other paper products can be shredded and added to your compost pile.
- Sawdust: Sawdust is a natural byproduct of woodworking and can be added to your compost pile to provide carbon and absorb moisture.
Setting up a compost bin or compost pile at home is easy and provides many benefits for your garden and the environment, all while reducing your carbon footprint. Properly maintained, your compost pile can transform your kitchen and yard waste into "black gold," or nutrient-rich soil that can help with plant growth, soil erosion, and disease prevention. Try it out and see how easy and beneficial composting can be for you and the planet!
Written by Neesha Basnyat - Sustainability Writer for Koraru
Neesha Basnyat is a an experienced sustainability writer and researcher specialising in biology, sustainability, CSR, and ESG analysis and reporting. With an educational background in Biology and Environmental Science and over 6 years of experience in the sustainability field, Neesha loves everything green, from shoveling compost to calculating emissions or researching the best new standards in the sustainability space.