A Post On Compost


There’s nothing better than cold watermelon on a hot summer day, and nothing elicits more guilt than a trash can full of rotting watermelon rinds. Why not compost? Because it’s hard to do, you say? Consider New York City’s new school composting program featured in the New York Times last week. Al Baker explains the intricacies of the program, as well as the daily routine behind the compost supply chain operated largely by the students

And the benefits go beyond teaching students to be good stewards of the Earth. It saves the city money. Baker writes:

… by building up composting in school, the city will help the environment, instill a sense of conservation in schoolchildren and, critically, save some money. The city paid $93 per ton in 2013 to dump in landfills, up from $68 in 2004. Composting saves the city $10 to $50 per ton, because the cost is offset by the sale of the end product, according to the Sanitation Department.'

If a whole city can get it together and organize children to help run their composting program, then you can easily make a little space in your backyard for your kitchen scraps. If that doesn’t inspire you, then consider Vermont’s new law that, among other things, requires composting for any facility that creates more than 2 tons of food waste a week. The law is expected to cut the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 38%. Reporting on the law for Center for Food Safety, Diana Donlon explains:

Once in the landfill, it is packed so tightly that oxygen cannot aid decomposition. Instead, the food scraps release methane, a potent greenhouse gas with 21 times the global warming potential of CO2. When, however, those same soup ‘n salad scraps are tossed in the compost bin, oxygen enters the picture. Oxygen allows the food scraps to become food for other creatures, including hardworking soil microbes that miraculously turn those soggy scraps into a valuable soil amendment known as compost. Applying compost to soil enables it to become rich and healthy for your plants, and better able to store atmospheric carbon.

Great for your wallet, great for the Earth, easy to do, but still confusing right? To compost or not to compost? What goes in the pile?  Not to worry, there are plenty of resources out there to help. For instance, just last week, the folks at EcoCentric created this fabulous guide to composting. Here’s an abbreviated list of what can go in the pile (below), but the whole article provides complete how-to’s and what-to-do’s and will get you on your way to creating that nutrient panacea for the soil in no time.

Good Scraps

  • Food Scraps

  • Yard Trimmings

  • Paper Products

Perhaps Scraps

  • Meat, fish or bones

  • Fats, oils or greasy foods

  • Dairy products

  • Biodegradable/compostable plastics (many of these fail to degrade in home composts)

Bad Scraps

  • Pesticides, weed killers and other chemicals

  • Plastics

  • Waxy, glossy or other coated paper products

  • Medicines

PHOTO: Kessner Photography


Read all articles by Damon Cory-Watson

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