Because incinerators are perilous to the environment and human health, and landfills are becoming scarce, expensive, and in the same way an environmental threat, different efforts in reducing the amount of waste are in place today. Such efforts include composting, a process by which organic waste is made into a soil resource.
Organic waste, which includes kitchen and yard garbage, makes up 30% of household waste and if composted would contain the necessary nutrients, microbes, and substances to enrich the soil and benefit the plants. Composting then was only known as a gardening practice, but ever since people became aware of waste and environmental issues, it has become a way of managing organic waste.
There are existing composting efforts on both large and small scales. Many communities, for instance, are running local composting projects using collected organic waste from households. On a smaller scale, many individuals make their own compost at home using different techniques. Regardless of the size of the project, composting should be well-managed to produce effective compost.
Making compost relies mainly on organic waste. Not all organic waste, however, can qualify as material for compost. Diseased plants shouldn’t be piled for compost as they may infect other plants. Although a hot temperature can kill the disease organisms, it is best not to take chances. Unless weeds and grasses, the kinds that tend to stubbornly re-sprout and re-grow, are dead and dry, never add them to the pile. Cat and dog feces are also not best for composting because they may contain disease organisms that are harmful to human health. Pest-attracting kitchen waste, such as meat scraps and bones, shouldn’t as well be included in the compost.
Which organic waste then is a good compost ingredient? Here is a list.
- Fruit and vegetable peels and other debris are best for composting. Because they are high in nitrogen, they are classified as “green” compost ingredients. Eggshells, tea bags, and other food and kitchen scraps can also be added to the compost pile, providing they won’t attract too many pests.
- Sawdust is a “brown” compost ingredient, which means it is low in nitrogen. Sawdusts decay in varied speed. Depending on the wood, some sawdusts tend to decay more quickly than the others. When using sawdust as a compost ingredient, make sure it does not come from a chemically-treated wood. If it does, it can potentially contaminate the entire compost, soil, and eventually plants.
- Leaves are common compost ingredients. Whether dead and dry (“brown”) or living (“green”), leaves are ideal for composting. Actually, forest trees usually thrive on the dead and decaying leaves on forest floors, which cumulatively act as compost. Lawn clippings are also great for composting.
When making compost, it is very important to thoroughly mix all the organic waste so there won’t be clumps that prevent aeration. Brown ingredients are normally best to mix with green ingredients to speed up decay. Other ingredients are also best to use in thin layers.
If every household in every community is managing organic waste by way of composting, the volume of waste will be reduced by 30%. And in a world that is literally threatened by massive waste production, that is a significant number.