Composting. Why Is It Important?

June 5, 2018

I can’t stress enough the importance of composting. The idea seems to confuse many people, so I'll try to explain the intentions behind it as well as I can. 

As many now know, food waste in the world has become a huge issue. Approximately one-third of the world's food is being thrown away. While this perfectly edible food could be used to feed the hungry, it's all going to landfills. 

 

LANDFILLS

The majority of U.S landfills are modern anaerobic (air-locked) landfills because they’re meant to safely enclose waste and keep it separated from the environment to avoid toxic contamination. When food and other organic materials go to landfill, they aren’t exposed to oxygen or given the proper materials for decomposition. This causes them to release methane gas into the atmosphere: a greenhouse gas more potent than CO2. Not to mention organic materials increase of the volume in landfills by a lot.

 

COMPOST FOR GROWTH

Although composting is a great way to reduce waste and decrease methane emissions, the purpose of compost itself if to provide nutrient richness, promotes healthy growth in plants, and restores vitality to depleted soil. Many famers value compost because it's also a great natural fertilizer and keeps pests away.

 

COMPOSTABLE VS BIODEGRADABLE 

I always hear many excuses when people throw food away saying they’ll “biodegrade in landfills” so composting isn’t necessary, but it’s not that simple. The two cause a lot of confusion and companies use this to their advantage when selling products, directly targeting the eco-minded people, making them think what they're buying is sustainable (this is know as Greenwashing).  'Compostable' and 'biodegradable' are two different things. The definition of biodegradable is "a material is capable of undergoing biological anaerobic or aerobic degradation leading to the production of CO2, H2O, methane, biomass, and mineral salts, depending on the environmental conditions of the process". This would suggest that it can degrade in conditions such as landfill. This process can take decades to centuries depending on the material. Compostable is when organic material is eaten away by micro-organisms under the right levels such as sunlight, water, and oxygen. 

 

 

COMPOSTING OPTIONS

If you live in an area where curbside composting is offered, don't hesitate! I promise it does not attract rodants or pests if the top is covered (a common thought that keeps people back, apparently). You can use biobag liners (what we use) in a regular trash bin in you kitchen. Once it's full, it can be placed right inside the green curb bin along side the trash bin and (if you have it) recycling bin. While many are fortunate enough to have access to curbside composting in their areas, many cities don't offer this. But you still may have some options. First, you can contact your local officials and make a demand for curbside composting (and if your city doesnt offer curbside recycling either, ask for that to while your at it). You can also invest in an indoor worm bin offered by Gardeners, that I've heard people have great success with. Another option is to freeze organics. When we lived in a college dorm we would freeze our food scraps and take them to our school's garden compost. Research the resources you have in your area and find out if their is a community garden/compost you can take your scraps to or if a farmer's market accepts compost. And lastly, if you have a backyard, you can look into buying or building a compost bin. 

 

I understand many people don’t have the privilege to compost, but education on the matter is the first step. If you don’t have access to curbside, consider a backyard home composter or you can freeze your scraps and take them to a local compost/garden or a farmers market that accepts compost. It decreases personal waste by A LOT. Do your research and learn about your resources in your area! 

 

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