3 Tips for Better Composting
Got a glass bottle? Recycle it. What about plastic forks? Reuse them. That old newspaper? Toss it in the recycling bin. But what about these vegetable tops, fruit peels and other food scraps?
Organic food scraps and yard trimmings make up 30 percent of household waste, the largest waste stream, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Composting is nature’s way of recycling these materials through decomposition. Not only does composting reduce the amount of waste sent to land fills, freeing up precious space, it also turns materials into nutrient-rich soil.
Here are some tips to help you get started composting:
1. Research Your Area’s Compost Regulations
There are three main kinds of composting – commercial, backyard and vermicomposting (composting using worms) according to the Collective Resource, a food scrap pick-up business based in Evanston, Illinois. Some neighborhoods or cities don’t allow do-it-yourself composting, so check out your area’s guidelines before you get started.
2. Create the Right Environment
Whether you have compost heap in your backyard or a bin on your porch, you want to create the perfect home for the bacteria and fungi that are actually breaking down your food.
The key elements to the perfect compost are moisture, oxygen and heat. If the compost is outside, rain will usually suffice otherwise water your periodically. Aerate the compost by turning the materials with a shovel or compost tumbler at least every few weeks.
You’ll also want to keep an eye on the temperate of your compost (about 140 – 160 degrees Fahrenheit according to Planet Natural, an organic home and garden company) and cover with a tarp or lid if needed.
3. Know What To Compost
If you’re using a commercial compost service, you’ll want to review the company’s approved materials list. For a DIY compost heap, it’s best to balance nitrogen and carbon rich materials in alternating layers.
Say yes to greens (high in nitrogen) like coffee grounds, garden waste and food waste and browns (high in carbon) like fruit waste, leaves, vegetable stalks and shredded cardboard.
Materials to avoid include meats, dairy, colored paper and inorganic materials.