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BLOG — Composting is not a waste

In this conservation era, as far as the kitchen is concerned, composting is my favorite solution. The treacheries of composting if done wrong are numerous and assaulting. But the benefits of composting, which doesn’t have to be complicated, always make me wonder why I didn’t start sooner.

The first thing to know about composting is that once a system is established, it requires very little work. The second thing is that the earth will love you forever if you help her in this way.

Food waste is already a problem. The Web site “Home Composting Made Easy” (www.homecompostingmadeeasy.com/foodscraps.html) states that “about one-half of all food that is produced or consumed in the U.S. is discarded. The main culprits are spoilage and overproduction/surplus…Food scraps generated by all households in the United States could be piled on a football field more than five miles (26,400 feet) high.”

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 23 percent of the U.S. waste stream. In 2008, the U.S. generated 250 million tons of municipal solid waste (trash), a startling two-thirds of which was organic material that could have been composted. So instead of increasing the landfill’s production of methane and leachate, those greenhouse gas emissions, all that trash could be fertilizing the soil and reducing the cost of our public waste management system.

Clearly, home composting is one solution to a nation-wide problem, and I’m here to testify that it doesn’t cost much in terms of time, energy or money.

What to include in your compost:
In addition to the yard trimmings and kitchen vegetable and grain scraps, composting can include other biodegradable things such as:
• Animal manure
• Cardboard and paper
• Cotton, wool, fur, lint
• Eggshells
• Fireplace ashes
• Hair and fur
• Sawdust
• Tea bags

What NOT to compost:
Black walnut tree leaves or twigs, coal or charcoal ash, diseased, insect-ridden or chemically treated plants, all of which can be harmful to plants or could kill beneficial organisms.
Dairy products, eggs, grease, oils, meat, fish, or bones, which take longer to break down and create odor problems and attract rodents, flies and other pesky unmentionables (maggots).
Pet wastes, which might contain parasites, bacteria and viruses.

Key components to home composting:
1. Start with a simple air-tight metal or plastic container to hold the fresh kitchen scraps. We use a five-liter plastic food storage bucket, which our sometimes family of six fills easily every two days.
2. Next transfer the fresh compost to the mature compost outside. This can be any number of solutions, including a trench, a large covered bucket or heavy pile covering. But it should be large enough to hold some yard trimmings or ashes in addition to the compost, and it should be secured from raccoons and other scavengers.

Mix the fresh compost with mature compost and scoops of grass, sawdust, ashes or other humus, which will help the food scraps to breakdownnutrient-rich structure of other food and vegetation waste and breakdown slowly They attract rodents and other scavenging animals Meat attracts maggots Your compost bin will smell to holy hell and back!Here’s a good trick to cut down on odors or potential fruit flies or gnats:Have nearby a small pail of finished compost, peat moss, sawdust, rock dust, leaf mulch or humus (good soil).

Voila — You should have a maintenance-free place to put your food and lawn scraps and a free source of rich soil for creating more of same!

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