Compost your way to environmental change
Salutations green friends, and welcome back to another Saturday with yours truly. There is a topic that I have secretly been avoiding because of a lack of personal knowledge, however don’t you fret I officially got over it and am here with the results of my research. I took the courageous step into the world of composting with the hopes that I would gain a far better understanding… that I could then articulate successfully to all you wonderful green readers. Through this compost journey may we all be compelled to start our own compost can even on the smallest of scales.
When it comes to our carbon footprint many of us go back to the tried and true three R’s Reduce,Reuse,Recycle, which actually don’t only apply to manmade materials. We can effectively reduce the amount of organic waste we create and send to landfills by trying our hand at composting. When I first heard of composting, I assumed it was complicated, time consuming and just darn gross (turns out I was wrong). As I began to research the topic of composting I discovered that it has many environmental benefits beyond just lowering our landfill waste contributions. Creating a compost system allows for organic waste to be used to enrich soils nutrient content, which leads to more crop production, regenerates poor soil and can even clean up contaminated soil.
The decision to compost allows us to tackle the next “R” Reuse by taking the organic waste we generate and repurposing it to the earth. The flip side of not composting is that food and yard waste end up contributing a hefty 25-50% of what we send to the landfill each year. Once this organic waste is dumped at the landfill it begins to decompose, and without oxygen (because it’s buried in the landfill) it produces Methane (CH). Methane gas which is a greenhouse gas is 30 times more potent than Carbon Dioxide at heat trapping. I want to hit you with one more startling factor; landfills are the single largest factor in human caused sources of Methane gas. Let us also note that Methane gas is emitted a few other ways such as; during the production and transportation of coal, natural gas, oil and strangely enough certain livestock according to the EPA. Some of the contributing factors of this greenhouse gas are unavoidable, however if more people opted to compost, we could at least minimize the amount being produced by some degree.
A compost system really only needs 3 basic components to run effectively; dead leaves, branches, twigs aka browns; grass clippings, vegetable scraps, fruit scraps and coffee grounds aka greens; and lastly water. These three components should be roughly equal and lay the foundation for becoming a composting savant. I will take a moment to mention certain “organic” materials that most definitely should NOT be included in your compost which are; coal/charcoal because of the harm it can cause plants, dairy products, meat products, fats because it is sure to entice all types of unsavory pest to visit your compost, and pet waste because of the risk of it containing parasites, bacteria or viruses that are harmful to humans. Your compost ground system or bin should be in a location that is easily accessible to you for use and should also be in a partially shaded area that has good air circulation. Keeping simple gardening tools, a water hose and a separate container to add scraps to as needed will make the process that much easier. It is important to remember that there is no size requirement for a personal compost, and in creating even a small system results in an amazing way to lower our carbon footprint. If creating a personal backyard compost is just not your jam maybe consider starting up a community compost in a central location or creating a school compost that allows for a greater reduction in organic waste ending up in a landfill not to mention the “feel goods” of making a difference on a grander scale. I know tackling a new-ish method of waste reduction can feel a tad daunting, especially when it comes to something that isn’t a mainstream practice in all homes or businesses, so pace yourself.
It is our duty to learn and understand our role in manmade environmental issues and with that understanding we must be ready to initiate methods to improve where we can. Fear not because we are all in this together, and as always, I implore you to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle when, what and where you can.
KOB’s very own,