Composting 101 (It's Easier Than You Think!)

Have you ever thought about how much food waste you produce in a year?!


The US is thought to waste 30-40% of its food supply each year. 😳 That translates into ~$1500 of waste for an average household - that stinks!


About 8% of greenhouse gas emissions come from wasted food, and roughly half of all food waste occurs during “the consumption stage,” meaning waste from food service and households.


Keeping food out of landfills can help fight climate change. And, luckily, there’s an easy solution for your home food waste: COMPOSTING! 🌱


Recycling food and other organic waste into compost provides a range of environmental benefits, including improving soil health, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, recycling nutrients, and mitigating the impact of draughts.


Plus, there are lots of good reasons to compost. You can ✅ save money, ✅ save resources, ✅ improve your soil and ✅ reduce your impact on the environment. Regardless of your reasons, composting is a win/win scenario: it’s good for you AND good for the environment! 🌳


Not sure why composting is good for you and the environment? We’ve got you:


1. Composting reduces waste, makes us less dependent on landfills, and decreases greenhouse emissions 🍃


Composting mimics nature’s method of decomposition, allowing organic material to break down aerobically. Thus, composting greatly reduces our overall waste being sent to landfills, and also cuts greenhouse gas emissions.


2. Compost strengthens soil and promotes healthy plant growth 📈


Adding compost to sol improves its structure and texture, making it more ideal for plant growth by adding organic matter. With high percentages of organic matter, soil is better able to retain water, nutrients, and air – benefiting the entire ecosystem by creating an optimal environment for plants, and by reducing runoff and erosion.


3. Composting reduces the need for pesticides and synthetic fertilizers ⚠️


Because compost enriches soil and promotes healthy plant growth, plants grown in compost-rich soil tend to be more resilient to diseases, pests, and fungi. The healthy bacteria and critters that are present in compost also help fight off those harmful pests and diseases before they can get to plants – thus reducing the need for toxic pesticides.


4. Composting recycles essential nutrients back into the soil 🪱


Food scraps are a valuable resource! 🗑 Just like the parts that you eat, the parts of food you toss contain important vitamins and mineral that, when returned to soil, get recycled back into the ecosystem and taken up by the next round of crops grown on the land.


5. Compost promotes a prolific soil ecosystem 🌏


Compost attracts critters and microorganisms that are good for soil and plants. Think of compost like probiotics for the human body – good bacteria are needed to fight off diseases and keep us alive and functioning 💪Similarly, in order for soil to be healthy, it needs to foster a community of organisms that break down mater, improve soil structure, and create a fertile environment for plants. Compost comes with a myriad of organisms that do JUST THAT!


Do you want to start composting but live in a small suburban home or tiny apartment? Here are 5 simple steps to start your composting journey:


1. Select your food scraps ➡️ start with fruits and veggies – the skin of a sweet potato, the top of your strawberry. Also tea bags, coffee grounds, eggshells, old flowers – even human hair!


2. Store those food scraps ➡️ when you’re composting, your kitchen scraps should be part of a deliberate layering process to speed up composition. Start by storing them in a container so you can add them bit by bit. You can store them in a bag in your freezer or the back of the fridge, or even an old milk carton!


3. Choose a place to make your compost ➡️ for this step, you may have to think a little about the space you’re currently living in – haha! If you don’t have a backyard and still want a traditional composting experience, you can take your food scraps to a compost pile that you share with neighbors or at a community garden. You can also ferment your food scraps with a Japanese method called Bokashi, ask your local grocery stores, restaurants, or farmers markets to see if they have programs to take food scraps, or use an old trash bin or wooden chest – just work with what you have available.


4. Make the compost mix ➡️in the world of composting, you’re inevitably going to hear about “the greens and browns” – the two main ingredients for your mix. “Greens” are usually food scraps that include fruit and vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, or, if you have a yard, grass clippings. “Browns” are more carbon rich, which include egg cartons, newspapers, dried leaves, and pine needles. You want to layer the browns then greens, browns then greens, and so forth.


5. Wait and aerate ➡️ if it’s hot, it can take as little as two months. However if it’s cold, it could be six months to a year. To keep things moving, you’ll want to turn or rotate the pile. REMEMBER! You have to make sure air is flowing, that it’s wet but not too soggy.


If you don’t want to compost yourself or can’t compost in your home, you can STILL collect organic waste and get it to a composter. Most cities have programs that provide curbside collection of organic waste along with regular trash on select days. If your city doesn’t have a composting program, help jump-start interest by lobbying city council members, or start a community composting project yourself!


OR, you can check out some cool handy dandy at-home composters such as Lomi. (BTW - if you’re looking to learn more about composting and reducing waste in general, listen to the founder of Lomi being interviewed on the Wellness Mama podcast 🎧 - it’s so good!)


Composting is not an exact science. It takes time and experience to figure out the best way for you to compost in your environment. Because it is a biological process, results may vary each time you try it, even if you don’t change your method at all. Don’t be afraid to tinker around with your bins, your ratio of browns to greens, or how often you aerate or water your pile.


Remember – rot happens! Your compost pile will break down eventually no matter what. The more time you spend with it, the more you will learn 😌


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