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 "R"s—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!
Yard Waste is accepted year-round at the Recycling Center!
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.
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.
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!
How to Backyard Compost
Compost happens naturally, no matter what, but by following these directions you help to accelerate the natural decomposition process to produce healthy soil.
Step 1: Obtain a bin or an area in your yard that is approximately one cubic yard (3'x3'x3'). Size is important for the proper temperature. Piles that are too small cannot hold enough heat for effective microbial activity, and piles too large (more than 5 feet cubed) do not allow for enough air to reach microbes in the center of the pile.
Step 2: Mix two parts brown (dry leaves, small twigs, straw, etc.) with one part green (grass clippings, kitchen scraps, etc.). This 2:1 ratio provides the best mix of carbon (brown materials) to nitrogen (greens).
Step 3: Chop or break up many twigs and large pieces of fruit and vegetable waste. Materials will break down more quickly with increased surface area.
Step 4: Keep it moist. Water your compost to keep it moist like a wrung-out sponge.
Step 5: Keep it turning. Compost needs air. Turning the compost will help it break down and will prevent it from smelling unpleasant.
Step 6: When it is ready your compost should look and smell like rich soil. Use finished compost to feed your garden, flowers, potted plants and lawn.