Did you prepare any produce today? Make coffee? Peel a banana?
Plenty of waste to go a(g)round Chances are you have plenty of organic waste produced at home, including yard and garden waste, much of which could have a place in a composting bin or pile. While we will discuss a little about how you could do some composting here, most people have a pretty good idea of what composting is: you either have a pile or bin of organic material that breaks down, rots, decomposes, by thriving worms, bacteria, fungi, and insects who feed on the pile.
Never composted? If you never have composted before, you are going to love how cheap the process can be (for free, if you want), easy it can be if you do not mind waiting for nature to do its thing, and how great this is for the environment. For those who are impatient, managed compost bins can produce finished product in as little as three to four weeks. But am I going to go into the nitty-gritty, the germy-wormy, the slimey — oh, blimey…? Thankfully, no, that will be the subject of future articles.
And, the reasons are… Today, we will be discussing the reasons for why you should compost — one of the easiest daily habits you could carry out to improve your envirohuman impact! Near the end, we’ll share some resources detailing the ways you can go out and actually do some composting in your own backyard. But before then, let’s take a look at why you ought to putting your biodegradable items outside your home on the ground (or in a bin) rather than having it hauled off to be buried in the ground.
- Wasting a resource: Having organic material hauled away as garbage is a systematic way of taking good, reusable organic matter to a large hole in the ground, where it is mixed with a host of inorganic, toxic substances and debris, such as plastic items, styrofoam, battery acid, leftover chemical detergents, and heavy metals, like lead and mercury. Hands down, getting that organic material back is extremely difficult to impossible.
- Causing extra fuel consumption: Hauling away that organic matter takes a lot of fuel to haul away to landfills. According to CompostGuide.com, “The average household produces more than 200 pounds of kitchen waste every year,” and that does not include yard and garden waste, which is obviously a lot more. So, let’s say that the average is only 200 pounds. At that rate, every ten families is having a ton hauled away to landfills every year, contributing to global warming and particulate matter in our air by having trucks haul even more away to be buried.
- Filling up limited landfill space: Organic matter takes a lot of space in landfills and the space is limited. Granted, the concept of landfills needs a major overhaul — we need to send much less material to be buried, and recycle more. But the point is that we’re limited on spaces where all of that “junk” can be buried, and we don’t need to inflate it with hundreds of millions of tons of compostable waste every year.
- Robbing nutrients: We’re literally robbing our soil of a rich natural resource that provides necessary carbon, nitrogen, and other nutrients. We already have erosion and soil fatigue to fight, we do not need to compound the situation by taking excess organic matter and shipping it far from where we need it — wherever we want and need to grow trees, shrubbery, and gardens. The solution is not to go out to your local home improvement store or nursery to buy organic matter, manure, mulch, and often, chemical fertilizers. “Using compost improves soil structure, texture, and aeration and increases the soil’s water-holding capacity.” Even if you do not garden, help keep your land’s resources fertile by composting.
- Squandering an opportunity for which we and the environment already have paid: Much of our produce is imported from far away — we are paying for that transportation cost financially and the environment pays in that it takes fossil fuels, most of the time, to move that food from plot to table, meaning more dirty emissions and more greenhouse gases. Having had the environment already pay (and we’ve used our dollars), are we seriously going to throw away that banana peel, those coffee grounds, that avacado peel and pit, and your (now dead, whoops!) African violets, into a pit full of toxic trash, when we could use it to enrich our soils? Seriously? Even if it’s not imported, it likely traveled a thousand or more miles to your home — and our soils around our homes could use the nutrients as local growing of produce gains popularity.
- Composting is an (easy) sustainable practice: Our potential future sustainability will sit upon sustainable practices. It’s sustainable to compost our organic matter where it falls, meaning, where you dump it right outside. When done right, it can be done with no lingering odors or pest problems, and this practice can play a huge role in replace our dependence upon synthetic fertilizers.
- Compost helps dilute toxic substances in our soil: As air and water pollution also pollute our soils, adding clean (or relatively clean) organic matter to our topsoil will over time help reduce the proportion of toxic materials, like lead and mercury, to organic matter, by diluting the toxins in a soil of organic material. This also helps our soils to deal with future pollution and to remain fertile and to not be toxic for foods and trees to grow.
These are some of the main reasons for why you should begin composting in order to do your part to improve your envirohuman impact. You can also check this post about compost tumblers which make composting much easier.