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The Benefits of Composting

by  Tina Hayes & Indigo Silva on March 31, 2015
The Benefits of Composting

Mother Nature is beautiful. We can do our part in the Bay Area and across the nation to keep our valleys green, mountains tall, and flowers blooming by composting.

Composting vs. Recycling

When you set aside plastics, aluminums and paper products to be recycled, you are helping to convert those items into raw materials to be reused or to create new products. Composting does things a little differently. Instead of converting manufactured products, composting turns natural materials into healthy soils and fertilizers. When materials are meant to be recycled or composted and instead are sent to landfills, valuable resources are wasted. Composting and recycling allow items to be made from reusable materials, rather than virgin materials.

How Can You Properly Compost?

The first step in composting is creating a compost pile. Designate a bin or container, preferably made of wood, to hold your compost materials. You should leave a few gaps in the container so that worms can make their way through. Worms help breakdown the materials and keep the pile healthy. Keep your bin in a shady spot outdoors. If you need to keep your compost indoors, you can purchase worm composters that have small holes and worms on the bottom.

The next step is gathering your compost. What items are okay? Items fall into two categories: brown and green materials. Brown materials are rich in carbon. These include wood, branches, leaves, straw and sawdust to name a few. Green materials are rich in nitrogen. These include grass and kitchen scraps like vegetables, fruits or egg shells. When wondering if something is a green material, think “natural foods.”  DO NOT attempt to compost whole fruits or veggies, they do not break down well. DO NOT compost meats or dairy products, they will spoil.

You should compost in layers so that there is a good ratio between nitrogen and carbon products. Use layers of all brown materials, followed by layers of green. You can find compost calculators online to help determine a healthy nitrogen-to-carbon ratio. Make sure you are mixing/turning all of the items in your bin regularly so that oxygen is able to flow through the materials.

Remember that composting is a smelly process. You are utilizing food and yard waste. Exhibit neighborhood etiquette by making sure your compost is not offensive to your nearby neighbors. If you notice a stench, make sure you have enough browns in the pile. (Consider asking a landscaper for extra wood chips or brush.)

Composting Is Important!

When you compost, you help to preserve soil, allowing plants to grow stronger and healthier. Composting also helps to reduce greenhouse gases which can weaken the effects of global warming. If you are a Bay Area resident and you are ready to start your composting journey, you can find your local compost facility at http://www.recology.com.     

If you compost, we would love to hear about it and please share your etiquette tips surrounding composting.

 

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