The Benefits of Composting and How to Start at Home
Hey legacy-makers, it’s Liezel!
Welcome to our first blog post of Summer 2021! CSRS is back to continue the conversation regarding Corporate Social Responsibility, in hopes to inspire individuals to stay curious and continue to grow as an active member of our society. We are very excited to share our findings as we have prepared lots of content for each of you. This week we are taking a look at composting and how to effectively implement it into your daily life.
What Is Composting?
Composting is the natural process of recycling organic matter, such as leaves and food scraps, into a fertilizer that can enrich your lawn or garden with nutrients. As much as 30% of household waste can be composted rather than thrown away in the garbage can. This is especially beneficial to those who enjoy gardening as it fuels plant growth and restores vitality to depleted soil.
The Benefits of Composting
Composting is a simple and effective process that carries many benefits for the environment. It is important to know that when organic matter is sent to landfills it does not decompose quickly as it lacks the air it needs. Instead it breaks down into a harmful methane gas contributing to increasing levels of global warming and climate change. By composting, we can reduce the amount of personal food waste while cutting down on methane emissions from landfills.
Another benefit would be that composting can improve soil health and lessen erosion. Compost contains three primary nutrients needed by garden crops: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. This can be used as an alternative to synthetic fertilizers containing harmful chemicals. Research has shown that using compost has the capability of increasing the soil’s water retention capacity and productivity, which is vital for growing plants.
What You CAN Compost
All compostable materials are either carbon-rich material, usually referred to as “browns” or nitrogen-rich material, the “greens”. Carbon acts as a food source for decomposers, helping to keep them alive while they break down waste. While nitrogen is an essential element for growth and reproduction in all living things.
Browns/Carbon-rich material include: paper egg cartons, paper towels/napkins, coffee filters, dried leaves, shredded newspaper, dryer/vacuum lint, cardboard cut into small pieces, dead houseplants, and shredded brown paper bags.
Greens/Nitrogen-rich material include: flowers, vegetables, fruit peels, scraps, coffee grounds, tea leaves/bags, egg shells, and green leaves.
What You CANNOT Compost
Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides.
How To Compost At Home
There are 6 easy steps that you can follow if you would like to start composting at home.
1. Choose Your Type of Backyard Compost Bin
You have the option of either having an open pile or a compost bin. With bins you have the advantage of being organized, preserving heat, and keeping animals out. The size of the bin you purchase or build depends on how much material you want to compost.
2. Choose Your Composter Location
The best location to choose when looking for a place to put your compost bin is where the ground is flat, well-drained, sunny, and most convenient for you.
3. Filling Your Bin
You want to start with a layer of coarse material (like twigs) to allow for drainage and aeration. Cover this layer with leaves then simply alternate between green (nitrogen) and brown (carbon) materials. A simple tip to achieving the best carbon-to-nitrogen ratio is to put in two to four parts brown materials for every one part green materials. Adding in the layers of brown materials will help maintain moisture levels and break down the greens faster.
4. Continue to Add Layers Until Your Bin is Full
Your pile will begin to shrink as the material decomposes.
5. Maintain Your Compost Bin
Make sure to keep the following conditions met to efficiently compost:
When you add fresh material, be sure to mix it in with the lower layers
Materials should be as wet as a wrung-out sponge. Add dry materials or water, depending on what is needed, to keep this moisture level.
Mix your compost once a week to help it break down and eliminate odour.
6. Harvest Your Compost
Within four to six months of starting your bin, your compost should be ready to start using. The finished compost will end up at the top of the bin and should be dark, crumbly, and have an earthy smell. You then want to remove all the finished compost, while leaving the unfinished materials in the bin to continue decomposing. It is important to note that if you use your compost before it is ready, microbes could take nitrogen from the soil, which is harmful to plant growth.
Compared to the chemical fertilizers that can be potentially harmful to the environment, composting provides an organic and effective alternative to nourish your garden or lawn. It also comes with many benefits that help reduce landfill waste and methane emissions. This being said, composting may not be for everyone, but what is important is that you are aware of the positive impacts you can make in our society and do what you feel is best.
Remember that we have the choice to stay informed and change how we treat our Earth. The efforts that you put in to help the environment will ultimately lead into a greater good.