Food wasted by little picky eaters or expired vegetables in your fridge make its way to the garbage faster than you can blink. Food waste happens in almost every household and it’s reported that 52 million tons of food waste in America end up in landfills annually. Let’s dig a bit further – pun intended and understand how that’s affecting climate change and hence, the planet. Dumped waste can release greenhouse gases into the environment and ultimately contribute to climate change. Personally, it never occurred to me that food waste, which is easily biodegradable, can have such an effect on the environment. The good news is that you can do your bit to reduce the load on landfills and compost your waste instead of mindlessly tossing it in the trash. Several countries in Europe and recently in the United States employ local composting programs, built by their city- with bi-monthly pick ups of compost bins, ready to be processed into nutrient rich soil. If your city doesn’t help with composting, here are a few ideas for you. With composting you wont just mindfully protect planet but you also have an opportunity to revamp your garden and plants with what is currently dubbed as ‘black gold’ of the gardening game.
What is Composting?
Composting is like a healthy shake for your plants. It is created by recycling organic materials like food waste, twigs, tattered old leaves, etc. To create a compost
- Browns – Pick dead leaves, twigs, branches of wood that you may find lying around in your garden or the neighborhood. You can also add scrappy old newspapers, cardboard or paper strips.
- Greens – Vegetable waste, fruit peels, eggshells, nutshells, coffee grounds, used cotton balls, etc. A tip that was passed on to me by my grandfather, an avid composter- add strands of hair that you find on your hair brush while combing!
Stay clear of animal waste (cat litter, etc) and garden wastes that have been created with pesticides. If you are worried about attracting rodents and other pests, then don’t add dairy or meat waste to your compost either.
How to Compost?
- Collect all organic waste such as fruit and vegetable skin, egg shells, coffee grounds etc and place into a compost bin.
- Find a spot in your garden where you can place a large, well ventilated container to dump your daily gatherings into. You can also find several stylish options sold on amazon or a variety of gardening stores for style preference and durability
- The key to good composting is to put alternative layers of ingredients instead of mixing them all together. Start with the browns. Straws and twigs are very helpful with drainage. Follow with a layer of greens. Make sure the layers are a few inches deep.
- You can add a good nitrogen source like wheatgrass or buckwheat to speed up the composting process.
- Water in compost can be a tricky ingredient. Experts suggest using 40% to 60% moisture from a combination of water and greens. A rule of thumb is to keep the compost damp but not dripping wet.
When your compost is ready, you can use it for your garden or potted plants. You can also give to your collected compost to your local municipality which is now popular in many cities US wide or find a pick up service that comes in every other week for compost pick ups. Check out CompostNow for pick-up services near you. If you live in an apartment without many plants, or in a locality with no pickup services, try donating your compost to the local farmers market or a nearby school or college.
Why is Composting Important?
Composting reduces the existing load on landfills and reduces the emission of greenhouse gases into the environment. It is also great for your garden. See any bald patches in your garden? Fill them up with fresh compost and they will soon be green. Composts are efficient and sustainable alternatives to chemical fertilizers and reduce the use of water. With regular composting, you may no longer need multiple watering tools in your garden!
Turn Learning into fun and games
Composting is a great family activity that can be easily incorporated in your lifestyle. It gives you time to bond, kids learn a valuable lesson in sustainability and patience, and you do your bit for the planet. If you are wondering how to get your kids started and interested in this beautiful lifestyle choice, here are a few tips:
- Put all your waste together and let your kids point out the right BGW ingredients for a perfect compost.
- A fun competition: create collecting games with your children- who fills, collects or gathers the most and reward!
- Encouraging your children to plant. Let them be responsible for their respective plant pots. This way they will grow to be more mindful of composting when they see their plants flourish with this magical formula.
Things to Remember when Composting
- Break it down: If your food waste includes large chunks of vegetables or fruits, put it in a blender and break it down.
- Be vary of the smell: A good compost smells fresh. If you smell anything stale or funky, your compost will most likely need alterations.
- Ventilation: Keep your compost pit well ventilated. A poorly ventilated pit can give birth to unwanted pests and diseases.
- Follow the BGW rule: Do not throw in plastic, metal or chemically treated products. Let your compost be as organic as possible.
Lining your compost bin with biodegradable bags is a good way to avoid leakage. BioBag uses plants and vegetable oil to make compostable bags.
Outdoor Compost Bin
The FCMP compost bin is easy to use and carry. You can keep it in the garden or in your garage.
Hot Frog Composter Bin
So stylish, you can show it off as part of your kitchen mid-century chic
Filters allow better absorption and filtration. Activated carbon further neutralizes odors and gases.
Composting sounds laborious but once you pick up the habit, it becomes as easy as taking your trash out. It really isn’t hard despite the idea of adding yet another task to your trash game, at first it does require some patience. Make sure you keep turning your compost from time to time so it gets ample oxygen. Keep your compost bin in the sun as heat speeds up the process