Since Emily and I began composting in June we have had several people ask us:
- “Why compost? Doesn’t it just breakdown in the landfill?”
- “Isn’t it hard?”
- “Don’t you need special equipment?”
First of all, composting can be extremely helpful to the environment. Landfills are holding places for large amounts of nutrients that, once they reach the landfill, are no longer being cycled into the environment.
This means that in the future there may not be enough nutrients cycling around for environments to utilize. You can see this cycling through the info-graph to the right.
In addition to this, most landfills become so compacted and air-tight that biodegradable materials don’t break down for years!
This is what’s can anaerobic decomposition (anti-oxygen decomposition), which takes a LOT longer than aerobic decomposition (oxygen decomposition). This simply means that oxygen is either not present or present for bacteria to use when they’re eating our food waste and biodegradable trash.
Most landfills operate this way today, but there is new engineering taking place for more aerobic landfills. Unfortunately, this technology and system is very expensive and is impractical to many cities.
An example of how ineffective anaerobic decomposition is, check out this Article!
Since landfills are very ineffective with breaking down our waste, composting ensures it will be broken down and ready to be put back into the environment.
Composting is honestly a very simple process and the only tools you’ll need for the process are:
- Two designated spaces (preferably boxed in with wood or metal)
- Food scraps, grass clippings, paper, cardboard, etc.
When you begin the process you’ll just want assign one space for initial scraps and pieces
of compostable material. After a while this pile will get bigger and bigger!
Then you’ll want to get into the habit of turning the compost on a semi-regular basis with the shovel. Remember, the more you turn it, the more oxygen the bacteria can use, the faster it will break down.
Once the material begins breaking down, simply put all the broken down material into the next bin and continue the process for a few more months. This will allow the initial bin to be used for new waste.
You’ll want to give it a few months to really break down. If you don’t it could be too acidic for your flowers, grass, or garden!
You should start to see some critters “move in”. This is a very good thing! They help the process move along faster.
Quick things to remember:
- Fats (oils) and bones naturally break down slower. They also attract unwanted pests (raccoons, cats, etc). It’s best not to put these in your compost area unless it can be closed from outside intruders.
- If it looks too dry, add some “green” material (old lettuce, grass clippings, leftovers, and the like.)
- If it looks too wet, add some “brown” material (straw, hay, cardboard or paper)
Keeping a nice balance between the greens and browns makes the bacteria happy!
One excuse a lot of people use to not compost is a lack of space or necessity! However, there are SO many options out there for you! There are tumblers, bins, really expensive gadgets as well as cheaper home-made contraptions. There are so many tutorials and videos, just go search for them!
If you don’t need to compost, you can always offer it for a small price on Craigslist and earn some extra cash or donate it to a local community garden.
This environmentally friendly habit is really practical and an easy way for you to contribute in a good way. You’ll be giving back to our planet, and if you have a garden, you’ll even be giving back to your own home!