Compost: One of the Most Impactful Changes We Can Make

Composting is emerging as a practice so important that, not too long ago, it was added to the expanded list of Rs—Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and “Rot.” Composting involves separating organic matter, such as food scraps and yard waste, from our trash or recycling. These materials are then sent to a composting facility, or added to a backyard compost bin, to make compost—an incomparable soil amendment that combats climate change in surprising ways!

Why compost?

Stop The Release of Methane 
Many of us believe that organic matter, such as a banana peel or lawn clippings, simply biodegrades when it is trashed. However, when organic waste goes to the landfill, it is covered and breaks down without oxygen. The byproduct is one of the most dangerous greenhouse gases of all—methane, which is 84 times as potent as carbon dioxide in the short term in contributing to global warming.  Composting prevents the release of methane, mimicking Earth’s natural systems and conserving valuable space in landfills.

Make Soil Work for The Climate 
In addition to avoiding the release of greenhouse gases, composting also helps reduce carbon already in the atmosphere. When compost products are applied to soil, it builds healthy soil that is able to draw carbon out of the atmosphere. Healthy soil is capable of sequestering an impressive three times more carbon than trees! Additionally, compost restores nutrients to topsoil, enabling the growth of all kinds of plants, from more nutrient-dense food crops to native plants that support pollinators.

Reduce Water Usage and Pollution
Compost dramatically increases the ability of soil to retain water. Just a 5% increase in organic matter can quadruple soil’s water absorption—this means a cost savings on water bills for us, as well as less of the Earth’s most precious resources lost to evaporation. We also reduce the pollution of priceless water sources by growing more naturally productive plants that require fewer pesticides and fertilizers.

Download: Why Compost Fact Sheet

What to Compost

Composting can seem complicated on the surface, since there are many different ways to do it, but when you have industrial curbside composting at your service, the rules become become pretty straightforward. The relatively short composting cycles at industrial compost facilities reach significantly higher temperatures than your backyard pile, which opens up some possibilities, including the ability to process animal products such as bones, meat, dairy and egg shells, as well as items like paper towels and compostable service items.

Composting Guidelines for Boulder County

Download: Composting Guidelines

What Not to Compost

In a word? Plastic. Please DO NOT put ANYTHING in your compost that is plastic, please do not bag your compostables in a plastic bag, and be careful not to compost non-compostable disposables. Once you learn the following tips you’ll know how to tell the difference between compostable and non-compostable plastics and paper products. Don’t forget to look out for sneaky plastic contaminants that can hitch a ride on your food items, like produce stickers!

 Download: Is it Compostable? Fact Sheet