“Composting 25 million tons of organic waste is equivalent to taking 7.8 million cars off the road.” –US Composting Council 2008
- Compost (the noun) reduces reliance on pesticides and fertilizers. That means more of our fruits and vegetables can be produced ORGANICALLY!
- Compost improves the soils ability to sustain a healthy root zone in plants.
- Compost amended soils reduces irrigation water usage by 30%.
- Compost increases crop yields and improves the overall quality of crops.
- Compost prevents soil erosion, preventing pollutants from reaching our waterways.
- Composting (the verb) produces healthy soils.
- Composting replenishes the loss of topsoil needed for organic crop production.
- Composting recovers and utilizes valuable resources lost to landfills.
- Composting saves money in the long term by: 1) helping to extend the life of our landfills; 2) providing an alternative to increasing trash hauling fees, and 3) avoiding long-term environmental impacts associated with landfills (see http://www.wastelessliving.com/why-compost/did-you-know/)
- Composting creates green jobs.
When organic material (ie. food scraps and paper waste) is diverted from the landfill, it significantly reduces methane gas and toxic wastewater typically associated with landfills.
“If we get health back into the soil, you no longer have to add pesticides, fertilizers, or insecticides. You can even drop herbicide applications out of the system. How do we get health back into the soil? Compost. Good compost.” – Elaine Ingham, Associate Professor at Oregon State University and founder of Soil Food Web, Inc.
WHAT IS COMPOST, ANYWAY?
Composting is the controlled decomposition of organic materials (i.e. food scraps, green waste, plant material, soiled paper waste, animals and their byproducts) by microorganisms.
Compost can be used as mulch or incorporated into soil or potting mixes.
HOW COMPOSTING HAPPENS
There are 5 key factors that impact the composting process:
carbon/nitrogen ratio + surface area + aeration + moisture + temperature = composting
When the right ratio of carbon and nitrogen (brown waste and green waste) is in a compost pile, along with exposure to oxygen and moisture, the materials naturally heat up to temperatures between 90-140 F, as microorganisms generate heat as they decompose organic material. The result is healthy soil.
WHAT MAKES SOMETHING “COMPOSTABLE”?
Any plant material, animal or animal byproduct: if it came from the soil it can go back into the soil via composting.
BACKYARD vs. COMMERCIAL COMPOSTING
Good compost can be made at home or in a commercial compost facility. But, there are some differences between the two: