Did you know that 25% of all trash that Americans produce consists of plant material that can be composted? Or, that utilizing that plant material for composting can dramatically improve soil quality? Composting has been used for centuries to help fertilize the soil and reduce the use of chemicals and pesticides. It also helps reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released – by keeping plant matter out of landfills.
Recycling Plant Matter:
Composting is the process by which organic matter, such as egg shells, paper, leaves, fruit, vegetables, and coffee, are broken down and used as a form of natural fertilizer. Many people believe that plant matter decomposes quickly when placed in the trash. The truth is, plant matter which is added to landfills actually creates an anaerobic environment – releasing methane and other harmful gases into the environment. The heat-trapping greenhouse gases that are released – particularly methane – are 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Facts on Composting:
- On average, it takes 25 years for a head of lettuce to decompose in a landfill.
- Composting reduces the volume of materials that are disposed of in landfills – therefore reducing greenhouse emissions.
- Composting improves the soil. One-third of the world’s arable land has been lost to soil erosion – and continues to be lost. Erosion reduces the ability of soil to store water and support plant growth.
- Amending the soil with compost improves the quality of the soil, and assists in the retention of water.
- Spreading composted materials on crops minimizes the use of chemical fertilizers.
- Microorganisms in composts can bind to heavy metals in soil – keeping them from leaching into water.
- Composting encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus, a rich nutrient-filled material.
How can I make an impact?
Tier 1: Global Goodness
- Know what you can compost. Refer to this guide to better understand what materials can be composted.
- Purchase composting trash bags. These trash bags break down in the landfill, preventing greenhouse gas emissions from forming.
- Research commercial composting facilities in your area.
- Recycle grass clippings and outdoor plant matter in your green recycle bin.
Tier 2: Planet Protector
- All of Tier 1.
- Start an indoor compost bin for food scraps. Click the link for an easy way to get started composting.
- If you have a yard, start an outdoor compost bin. It is a simple setup that will supply you with nutrient dense soil.
- Visit our Let The Composting Begin video series to learn additional tips from our whole systems educator Megan Kelley.
- To learn how to incorporate coffee grounds into your compost visit DIY Garden.
Tier 3: Earth Angel
- All of Tiers 1 & 2.
- Take your indoor composting to the next level with a worm bin. The worms assist in breaking down organic matter more rapidly. Here are some tips from Uncle Jim.
- Get your community involved. By sharing your composting knowledge and experience – you can inspire others to get composting.
- Choose to be an Ambassador for Change, and always Spread Love and Spread Light.