Last week we posted a blog about recycling and I think that this week we should talk about composting.
The NRDC defines composting as: “the natural process of recycling organic matter, such as leaves and food scraps, into a valuable fertilizer that can enrich soil and plants.” Compost is referred to as “black gold” by farmers as it is rich in nutrients that can be used for gardening, horticulture, and agriculture.
There are numerous benefits of composting which are listed below and it is something that you can easily do at home!
1.Reduces the Waste Stream:
Composting is a great way you can recycle some of the organic waste you make at home. In the US it is estimated that 28% of total food waste is comprised of food scraps and garden waste and composting is one way to divert that waste.
2. Cuts Methane Emissions from Landfills:
When organic matter decomposes it undergoes something called aerobic decomposition, which means that it’s broken down by microorganisms that require oxygen. However, when this organic waste goes to the landfill it is suffocated by trash and is instead broken down by decomposers that can live without free-flowing oxygen. During this process a biogas that is made up of 50% carbon dioxide and 50% methane gas is released. These are deadly greenhouse gases and in the US landfills are the 3rd largest source of human-generated methane emissions. It is estimated that only 6% of food waste gets composted, however in San Francisco has diverted more than 80% of their waste from landfills since 2012. This has avoided 90,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere on an annual basis which is the equivalent of the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 20,000 cars. San Francisco is proof that composting works and the system can be effectively implemented in a big city.
3. Conserves Water:
Water has started to become a scarce natural resource with headlines in restricted water usage (amount of water people can use to water their lawn for example) in a variety of US cities. Agriculture accounts for 80% of the water use in the US. Studies show that composting helps increase the water-retaining capacities of soil. Just a 1% increase in soil organic matter helps soil hold 20,000 gallons more water per acre. Compost helps farmers have healthy soil that allows them to use less water while also achieving a higher yield.
4. Reduces Personal Food Waste:
Food waste has become a growing global issue, with the average American family throwing away $150 worth of food each month. Even further, the most commonly wasted food from households is fruits and vegetables. Several types of food scraps from produce (ex: banana peel) can be used in composting, so that is one way you can divert your personal waste at home.
Composting is something anyone can do at home whether in your garden or using a green bin in your house. To find out what works best for your situation and for more information about composting check out the link below: https://www.nrdc.org/stories/composting-101.
For examples of what you can and cannot compost see the image below: