Composting isn’t something just for people who have elaborate gardens and huge backyards. You can compost regardless of your living situation.
Compost enriches the texture of the soil which helps it to retain and drain water better. It helps reduce the need for chemicals, encourages natural bacteria and fungi that are beneficial to a garden, reduces the amount of waste in a landfill and lowers your carbon footprint.
If you have room to both compost and garden in your backyard, choose a dry, shady spot close to a source of water, like a hose. You’ll want a combination of brown and green materials to go in your compost.
- Brown waste are dryer materials like dead leaves and branches, grass, shredded newspaper, wine corks, napkins and paper towels that have food on them, and tissue paper.
- Green materials are wetter like vegetable waste, fruit scraps, eggshells, cereal, pasta, rice, nuts, tea bags and coffee grounds.
Remember… the smaller your waste is cut, the quicker the compost process will be.
Do NOT compost meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, oily or greasy foods, bones, cat or dog waste, plants that have disease or seeds from weedy plants. Or of course anything that’s been treated with a pesticide.
When you add dry items like branches, moisten them with water to help in the process. Water is necessary, but you don’t want to over do it. The pile should feel like a wrung-out sponge. As you get more added to the mixture, you’ll want to bury the green waste — fruit and vegetables at least 10 inches under the brown waste like branches and grass. You can leave the pile uncovered or cover it with a tarp. It’ll take a while for the compost to be ready — two months to two years. You’ll know it’s ready to use in a garden when the bottom material is dark and rich in color.
If you don’t have a backyard or room to compost, you can always do it inside. Get an indoor composter — they’re small enough to go on your counter or under the sink. Use the compost in a planter box or donate it to a community garden.
Some cities offer compost recycling containers. And some farmers markets accept compost, so be sure to check options in your area.
While composting is a great way to deal with waste, you may be able to cut down on the waste that goes into the compost as well. Cook only what you need. Freeze fruits that aren’t being eaten. Frozen fruit is great on a hot day or in a smoothie!
For great ideas on recycling check out the following articles and guides:
- Earth911 Recycling Guides
- Browse all articles on recycling
- Find out where to recycle stuff in your area