Millions of Americans are in the recycling groove. Cardboard, aluminum, and plastics are all commonplace materials that we recycle on a daily basis. But they aren’t the only things found around the house worth reusing. Yard clippings and food scraps can be recycled in a very unique and beneficial way. Combining these materials with air, water, and a little bit of patience creates compost: a fine, rich organic matter and a great amendment for your soil.
“Composting is a unique and natural process that has several benefits. It reduces the amount of waste that ends up in our landfills, and it can act as a great fertilizer,” said Dave Ghirardelli, Solid Waste Planner with the Department of Waste Management and Recycling.
Compost can help with erosion control, improving soil fertility, and stimulates healthy root development. It can also increase the water capacity of soil, reducing the watering times and water usage.
Composting is a low maintenance project that can be done entirely at home, beginning in your kitchen. Compost-friendly items include leaves, fruit and vegetable trimmings, even eggshells and coffee filters. Although several food items such as these are positive contributions to your compost, it is important to remember to stay away from all dairy and meat products. Bones and greasy or oily food items are also important to keep out of your compost.
The magic of creating fine compost is having a 3:1 ratio between carbon-based and nitrogen-based material; three parts carbon and one part nitrogen. Carbon-based materials are leaves, twigs, and generally brown items from your yard; nitrogen-based materials are generally food wastes from your kitchen but also include fresh lawn clippings.
Routine maintenance includes keeping your compost pile moist and turning it at least once every other week. Although compost bins are available at almost any local hardware store, they can also be made at home. Scrap wood and chicken wire can be easily converted into your own compost bin.
Composting is a natural process that can have a long-lasting impact on both our environment and the way we think about our food, and it’s easy to get started. Find a complete list of compost-friendly items and learn where to purchase a bin, or how to make your own at the Waste Management and Recycling website.
Writer: Danielle Spang, Communication and Media Intern