Food waste is a large source of waste in the United States: according to the US EPA it’s just over 20%. Composting plant-based food scraps from
your kitchen – at home and on campus – along with your excess and garden/ yard waste will put a total stop to this type of trash you send to the landfill. The waste will break down and form a dark, high nutrient soil amendment you can add to your garden or potted plants. Composting itself is not a hard venture – just having both the habit and a place to collect it are required.
A compost bin kept in the corner of a yard is the most common household method. The optimal compost ratio is parts carbon, dry, or “brown” waste to one part wet, nitrogen-rich waste. greens. Browns can include dryer lint, dry leaves, newspaper, sticks and spent potting soil. Your greens will be your fruit and veg scraps from the kitchen, recently trimmed weeds, grass clippings, green leaves and such. Keeping your bin slightly wet and shifted around once and a while will help too. Let nature do its job and turn all this plant-based material back into soil! All you have to do is add your waste and let it happen.
If you are an apartment or dorm dweller or are in a home without outdoor space, consider vermicomposting: letting worms do the work of nature. You can keep a bucket under your sink containing the worms – they will munch on your food scraps and produce compost via their castings (aka poop). No “browns” needed other than shredded paper.
Check out the Cuyahoga Solid Waste District’s page on compost education. There are always a few compost seminars coming up and they sell two compost bins at affordable prices as well as other tools.
Story by Maureen Wise
Photo credit: Andrew Dunn