Composting is a great way to minimize waste and decrease your carbon footprint. Nearly every person produces waste even if they are careful about what they use and buy. Unfortunately, consumer packaging is often wasteful, and sometimes it is impossible to recycle. Many people have begun to compost, recycle, upcycle, and produce their own food and necessities to prevent waste. See below for my ultimate guide to composting.
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How Can I Compost?
Composting is relatively simple to begin and this article will help to get you started. It means that you will use as much of the food and environmental waste that you have as possible. Apple cores, banana peels, newspapers, and other household waste can be composted.
Compost Heap or Bin?
First, you must decide where you will compost. Some people have vast lawn space that makes composting simple. However, not everyone has enough space, or any lawn space, to compost in the open. For these consumers, composting in a bin makes the most sense. There is no real difference in either method other than space.
Location and Supplies
If you have a lawn, you will need to decide where to compost outdoors. However, if you are using a composting bin, you may be able to compost inside or outside. Properly composted waste has no odor, so it can be safely done indoors.
When beginning to compost, you need to know what type of supplies you can use for the pile or bin. First things first, you must never use meat, oils, dairy, human waste, cooked food, pressure-treated wood, or diseased plants. Now that you know what not to use, you may be wondering what you should be using. There are two basic categories of compostable material—green and brown. You can generally see which category things belong in due to their color, but the color is not the only indicator.
Green materials are plant-based things. Fruit and vegetable scraps and weeds are probably the most commonly used items in the green category. Likewise, eggshells, tea leaves, coffee grounds, and other uncooked kitchen scraps may be used as green material. While much of this category is plant-based, it is generally the organic category.
Brown materials are overwhelmingly paper and wood by-products. Nuts, shells, cardboard, dryer lint, leaves, straw, wood chips, paper, and garden trimmings are all in this category. While several of these items are small and quickly biodegradable, some of them will need to be cut or shredded. Paper, cardboard, and garden trimmings may need to be ground into smaller pieces to be more effective. They will eventually break down in their original size, but smaller pieces will speed this process.
Why Can’t I Compost All Kitchen Waste?
Animal by-products (other than eggshells) break down differently than plant materials. Plant materials are organic. They originate from the soil, and they break down to nourish animals and the soil upon degradation. However, animal waste rots and can spread disease or attract pests. Worms are welcome guests (and essential) to compost piles but inviting the wrong guests can increase the risk for disease and damage to the soil. Likewise, inorganic materials such as plastics and metals from containers will not break down well and can deposit materials into the pile that can hinder growth.
Beginning Your Compost Pile or Bin
When beginning your compost pile or bin, you will need to find the ratio that works for you. Different soil compositions, environmental factors, and moisture will affect composts differently. Most people find that a two-part brown to one-part green ratio works well. However, this ratio may be different at different times or with different soil
Water will have a significant effect on the compost pile moisture will help the paper, eggshell, and cardboard components begin to break down more quickly. However, too much water will make a soggy mess. If you have been careful with materials but still find that there is an odor, you often have too much water. This can cause some mold or
mildew to build up.
Turning your pile
You can’t just chuck everything into the pile and let it do its magic. Whether you are using a bin or pile, you will need to turn it to distribute the materials. Compost piles or bins will get warm as they sit. The Housewire recommends turning the pile at 130-150 degrees Fahrenheit.
Use the Soil
Once your brown and green materials have worked together, they will break down into a healthy soil. The soil can be used for indoor plants, outdoor gardens, or to enrich your lawn’s soil.
Guiude to Vermicomposting and trench composting
While the above is the more traditional composting, there are other options. You may also choose to vermicompost, which involves adding worms to the soil. The organic materials feed the worms, and they break the materials into usable soil. Worms are fantastic composters and are cheap to harvest. You can get them from your own lawn or even purchase worms specifically for composting.
Trench composting is similar to the others but is usually more suited to households or businesses that use more food and green waste. You will need to dig a trench in the lawn and fold the materials into the soil. It will take roughly a month to decompose.
Composting is good for homes whether they have gardens or simply want to recycle as much of their waste as possible. If you do not have plants to feed with this nutrient-rich soil, you may find a composting center in your area. These centers are happy to take in the compost so that others may use the materials.