Trash Talking – Compost Edition

Let’s talk about composting! That’s a real conversation starter. I bet everyone getting ready to go to a party or out on a Friday night thinks to themselves “Man! I hope I get to talk about composting tonight!”. Well, here I am to fulfill all those dreams. 😉

So what is compost? According to the EPA:

Compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow. Food scraps and yard waste currently make up 20 to 30 percent of what we throw away, and should be composted instead. Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Composting is the action where you take your yard waste and food waste, and mix it in with dirt and a little bit of water, and let it decompose. What you’re left with is very nutrient rich dirt which is great for plants, gardens (hello home-grown produce), and grass (and balancing the pH of your soil).

Sounds complicated, right? That’s kind of what I thought. I wanted to try it for years, but always thought it would be too difficult – how do I start, what can/can’t I compost, etc. – and never took the plunge. That is, not until a few months ago. Back in March I was going through a spring cleaning streak and came across an empty storage tote. I remembered seeing a tutorial on Young House Love for creating a compost bin out of such a tote (which you can find here). I looked at the tutorial, looked at the bin, and thought “how hard can this be?”. The answer – not hard at all!! I literally drilled a few holes into the top and bottom, added some dirt and some food waste I’d been collecting in my kitchen, raked it around to thoroughly cover the food scraps and voila! I started composting!

To address the issue of what I can and can’t compost, I printed out a copy of a composting chart and put it on my fridge (which was Monday’s Little Seed post – see what I did there 😉 ). Since I generally eat a lot of the same foods I know what I can and can’t compost from my everyday stuff, but every so often I consult it to make sure I’m not messing things up.

To help streamline the process a bit I also bought a composting pail for my kitchen -specifically this one from Amazon (actually Amazon Smile…which you should all use! But I’ll talk about that later 🙂 ). It’s super helpful so I don’t have to make a trip outside every.single.time I peel or eat fruits and veggies, and I keep it right in my kitchen for easy access. It prevents any odor from escaping, and looks very sleek with the stainless steel finish.

The lesson that I’ve learned from all of this is that composting is unbelievably super easy. I empty my compost pail whenever its full and I’m taking out the trash anyway, it doesn’t disrupt my lifestyle at all, AND I feel super good about how much food waste I am diverting from the landfills. I eat a TON of fresh produce, so this has had a big impact for me. In the five months that I’ve been composting, I’ve probably avoided about 8-10 gallons from the landfill. That might not sound like a lot, but I’m just one person. Imagine the impact we could have if everyone (families, hospitals, restaurants, grocery stores, …) composted! That is a whole lot of avoided waste…and a whole lot of great nutrient-rich compost to add back to the earth. ❤ Plus, I selfishly hope to use this compost in the fall in my flower beds to grow some stellar plants in front of my house next spring! I’ll be sure to let you know how that turns out!

Before I go, here are some benefits of composting, courtosy of the EPA (again…they have a lot of useful information!):

  • Enriches soil, helping retain moisture and suppress plant diseases and pests.
  • Reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.
  • Encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus*, a rich nutrient-filled material.
  • Reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint.

*Not to be confused with hummus… 😉

EPA source information here


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I live in upstate NY and am trying to live a more sustainable life. Join me!

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