You may have noticed a growing trend among your neighbors, all of a sudden, they’re outside in their yards planting summer flowers. They come home from your local home improvement retailer every weekend with a truck laden with lumber and other home upgrades. This has you wondering, is there something I’m supposed to be doing? What can I be doing that is beneficial to my household? Look no further than composting.
Now before you say “I can’t compost, I live in an apartment” or “why would I compost, I live in a big city?” or “what do I do with my compost, I don’t have a garden?” Don’t worry, all of those questions will be answered in this article.
For those of you who live in small spaces or in a big city with no garden, you may be wondering why you would bother to compost. A compelling answer may stem from your concern to do your part for the environment. Though you may assume that your fruit and vegetable scraps decompose naturally in the landfill and enhance the soil, surprisingly you would be wrong. Food scraps in the landfill produce methane as they decompose, contributing to our carbon emissions. If you are interested in indoor composting and you live in a big city apartment know that many large urban areas have compost collections where you save your food waste and it is picked up weekly or you drop it off on a certain date. To make this manageable, you can purchase a composting pail to set on your kitchen counter. They prevent any smell and are very convenient to dispose of your scraps as you’re preparing your food. If the pail gets full before your collection date, you can empty your compost in a container and store it in the freezer.
There are two common ways to compost outside: in a stand-alone compost bin or one constructed in the ground. The latter are typically built with wood or chicken wire for you to layer your compost and manually turn it with a pitchfork. You can also purchase a rotating standing bin. They commonly have one or two compartments you put your scraps in and you rotate the bin to assist in decomposition. Both have their pros and cons, so it’s best to think through how and where you will use your bin to determine which method will be best for you.
What Can I Compost?
Compost is made up of both “green” materials and “brown” materials. Green elements include fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, and grass clippings while brown elements include leaves, newspapers, toilet paper tubes, and other paper products. It is generally recommended that you incorporate two parts of green materials to one part of brown materials.
Benefits of Composting
We’ve already mentioned that composting can help alleviate methane production in landfills. It also provides a great source of nutritious material for your garden. Don’t have a garden? Try spreading a layer of compost under shrubs and trees for fertilizer. Give your compost away to a gardening friend or neighbor. Find a local community garden that would be interested in using your compost. I promise this black gold will be well received! The opportunities are endless, and it cannot be emphasized enough how beneficial composting can be. It is also a great opportunity for children to learn about the nature of decomposition, soil science, and the cycle of plant life.
Composting can be suited to nearly any lifestyle and living situation, so don’t be afraid to give it a try!
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Jennifer has always had a love of being active in nature and has brought that together by studying English and Horticulture at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina and by later obtaining an AFAA Personal Training Certification.