Nature’s Greatest Magic Trick – Aka Urban Composting 101

<i>Nature’s Greatest Magic Trick – Aka Urban Composting 101</i>

Photo credit: Vero Photoart Unsplash 

A 5 minute read – 

 

What is Composting?

Say what? It’s 2018! We all know what composting is! Don’t we?

It might seem unnecessary to define, but when I was living in Jersey City I met several people who had never heard of composting. It’s time to remedy that now! 

Composting is the cycle of life and death.

A plant grows from fertile soil, it flowers, the seeds are spread on the wind to find ground elsewhere, the plant withers and dies, returning to the earth. This cycle has been happening for billions of years and it is what allows life on this exquisite jewel of a planet to flourish.

Nature is miraculous. It understands an innate intelligence, a balance that sustains all things.

In more scientific terms, microbes – or tiny organisms  in the soil – eat organic matter causing it to decompose. The same process will happen to our bodies when we die. It is the beautiful fate of all life to return to the earth from which it came.

It really is nature’s magic trick of regeneration and renewal.

 

 

Composting and Landfills

Many household items can be composted to reduce waste going to landfills. When food scraps are composted it results in a vitamin rich, fertilized soil. Gardeners even call it “black gold” because it is so valuable to their agricultural practices.

Unfortunately, 72% of American families don’t compost their food scraps, instead tossing them in the garbage to be sent to the landfill.

I recently had a friend innocently comment that the food would just decompose in the landfill, which made me realize how much misinformation is floating around about composting and landfills alike.

According to an article by RecycleBank landfills account for a third of all methane production in the US, right up there with cow farts! This is due to the fact that landfills are often airtight, preventing food from properly decomposing. Instead it rots emitting methane, a notorious greenhouse gas responsible in part for global warming.

So not only are food scraps rotting and polluting the environment, but their potential to be composted and turned into “black gold” and contribute to sustainable agriculture is denied. To make matters worse the fertile layer of topsoil which allows farmers to grow crops is dwindling rapidly, contributing to the pesticide craze which is sweeping the country.

We are not helping the perfectly balanced ecosystem of our planet at all! In fact, we are harming it!

What can we do?

Compost, compost compost!

 

 

How to compost in 5 easy steps:

1) Collect all food scraps from your kitchen in a receptacle

Food scraps should include all vegetable and fruit waste, paper towels, coffee grounds, and paper based tea bags. Check with your local composting facility to see if meat and dairy products can be included in this list. Many industrial composters are able to process these items. For backyard composting purposes, meat and dairy products should be avoided.

I use compostable plastic bags from BioBag as a liner to conveniently transfer the scraps to the freezer once the receptacle becomes full. This can be helpful if you create more food scraps per week than your receptacle can hold.

This also prevents odor from developing. One thing composting doesn’t have to be is smelly!

 

2) Find a local composting facility

Luckily facilities are popping up more and more frequently in recent years!

Some cities even provide composting as part of their waste management plan and offer roadside pickup. It really depends on your area. A great place to start is your city’s website.

Where I live in Denver there is very limited city provided composting. However there are some independent composting initiatives like the Denver Compost Collective that provides a pickup service for $5 a week. Also some recycling centers have a commercial composting facility attached, like the Cherry Creek Recycling Center in Denver.

 

3) Put a compost receptacle in your bathroom

That might sound strange, but it really works! With just a few simple product switches you can compost all your bathroom waste.

The Wild Minimalist sells a dental floss* made from silk that is 100% compostable. Qtips made from paper and cotton rather than plastic are compostable, as well as tissues, cotton balls and other organic matter like hair, nail clippings and dryer lint.

You know what you consume in the bathroom. How much of that is already compostable? How much of it could you switch to a product that could be composted?

I also tend to save any scraps of trash that might accumulate and throw them away in the kitchen if absolutely necessary.

 

4) Get a bagless vacuum

I love my bagless vacuum! Not only is it hypoallergenic and traps the dust inside with a special filter, but it is so convenient to clean out! I simply open the lid and dump it straight into the compost. All that dust, lint, and and other matter can be composted too!

I have the Shark Navigator, which I can’t recommend enough. Not because I’m being sponsored to say so, mind, but because it truly has been a huge time saver in cleaning, and helps me to reduce my waste simultaneously! It’s a win win!

 

5) Compost your yard clippings/dead leaves

This is one of the best things you can compost. Compost piles actually need a certain percentage of brown roughage to decompose properly because it helps circulate air throughout the pile. Also dead leaves provide nitrogen to the soil, creating an even richer compost product. Many tree limbs and shrub clippings can be turned into mulch for the garden and there are companies that will provide that service for you, or you can donate them to a garden facility for others to use.

It makes me so sad to see yard waste going to the landfill when it could be put to so many good uses that would enrich the environment, not pollute it!

 

 

In conclusion, if you had to pick just one thing to do for the environment, I would say that composting should be it! Not only does it remove rotting food from landfills that contribute heavily to global warming, it turns those food scraps into precious life giving fertile soil to help nature renew again and again.

We can either be compliant with the destruction of our environment, or we can be a beacon of change. Composting may not seem like much, but if everyone did it, it would change the world.

Ultimately we create our reality through our choices. We only have one planet of finite resources. Let’s choose to take action on her behalf!

Have a question or suggestion? Let me know in the comments below!

 

*this is an affiliate link, however I don’t promote any products I don’t use myself! 



7 thoughts on “Nature’s Greatest Magic Trick – Aka Urban Composting 101

  • Hello ,

    I saw your tweets and thought I will check your website. Have to say it looks very good!
    I’m also interested in this topic and have recently started my journey as young entrepreneur.

    I’m also looking for the ways on how to promote my website. I have tried AdSense and Facebok Ads, however it is getting very expensive. Was thinking about starting using analytics. Do you recommend it?
    Can you recommend something what works best for you?

    Would appreciate, if you can have a quick look at my website and give me an advice what I should improve: http://janzac.com/
    (Recently I have added a new page about FutureNet and the way how users can make money on this social networking portal.)

    I wanted to subscribe to your newsletter, but I couldn’t find it. Do you have it?

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    P.S.
    Maybe I will add link to your website on my website and you will add link to my website on your website? It will improve SEO of our websites, right? What do you think?

    Regards
    Jan Zac

    • Hi Jan. Thank you for your sweet comments! I’m just getting started with my website as well so I’m still in the trial and error stage with all of this. I have done Facebook ads with some success, running them on both Facebook and Instagram, but I haven’t tried AdSense yet. I have Google Analytics and recommend it simply because it shows you where your traffic is coming from etc. So far I just run a $20 Facebook ad when I put a post up on the blog, I try to post to Instagram once every couple days with fun anecdotes and pictures and post relevant stuff on Twitter and Facebook a couple times a day. I also use MailChimp as an email marketing server and highly recommend it. I send out a newsletter once a week. You can run ads on Facebook and Instagram through MailChimp as well.
      I do have a newsletter. I need to put the sign up box in a more noticeable place so people sign up! Thank you for letting me know it’s hard to find. I’ll fix that asap. I’ll check out your website and let you know what I think. What’s your email address so I can email you?
      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment!
      Best,
      Madeline

  • Hi!
    I picked up your business card somewhere in Colorado while I was visiting (can’t remember where!) and am really into the topics you’re writing about here on your site. I’m one of those people who *doesn’t* know much about composting (besides that it’s good for soil and the environment), and I’d like to begin, knowing how easy it is to implement. But, information on composting where I live here in Pennsylvania is either very limited, or just not talked about. Can you expand further on the process? What kind of receptacle do you use/recommend to store scraps? Why do you transfer scraps to the freezer? To prevent them from rotting before you mix in with roughage? What happens to the scraps after you remove them from the freezer? Where do you mix them with roughage, at approx. what ratio?
    For us newbies, these details would really help us to get started with composting.
    Thanks so much!
    Allison

    • Hi Allison-
      Thank you so much for reaching out! I would love to help you learn more about composting! I think I will write another blog post soon and use your questions as the cornerstone. But I will answer them now too! As far as a receptacle is concerned, we honestly just use our old blender (blades removed of course) because we are a wee bit broke at the moment. So you can literally use anything! There are, of course, official receptacles you can purchase, and that is on my list of needs for the kitchen for sure. As the article states, we just use those compostable bags inside the receptacle to make the food scraps easy to remove.
      The reason we freeze our compost is to keep it from starting to smell. We live in an apartment so we only are able to take our compost to the facility once every two weeks. Also, being frozen makes it much easier to transport. We take the little frozen baggies of compost, put them in a tote bag and take them to the facility. No mess, no hassle! If you have a backyard compost heap, then you can forgo the compostable baggies and just dump your receptacle whenever it becomes full. That is obviously ideal.
      So the best ratio of roughage to food scraps is 1 part food scraps to 2 parts roughage. Layer roughage and then the food scraps, roughage food scraps etc. That way the air can circulate through the pile. Make sure to water the roughage as well, because the moisture is a key component in the breakdown of matter. This is only if you have a compost pile at home, however. If you’re taking your food scraps and other compostables to a facility, there’s no need to mess with any of this stuff.
      I have some more tips about starting a backyard compost pile. I will write a blog post about this asap. But email me at simplesustainabilityblog@gmail.com and I’ll walk you through it if that’s the route you want to take!
      Also if you’d like to receive my Newsletter with a new spiritual theme and sustainability article every week, click here: Subscribe
      Have a great rest of your day, and thanks again for reaching out!
      Madeline

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