This month, we’re covering everything you need to know about compost and how to do it at home, whether you have a backyard or not.
What is compost?
Compost is a nutritious soil amendment that provides your plants with natural food. It is created by combining carbon-rich “brown” materials like dry leaves and small twigs, with “green” materials like grass clippings and kitchen scraps. Natural composting, or biological decomposition, began with the first plants on earth and has been going on ever since. As vegetation falls to the ground, it slowly decays, providing minerals and nutrients needed for plants, animals, and microorganisms.
By having your own compost pile, you are taking would-be trash, like kitchen scrap and even tissues and other non-recyclable paper products and putting them to good use in the way nature intended.
Making Our Soils Healthy
Compost improves soil, the lifeblood of our society. It has been shown to help soils retain moisture, provide nutrients to plants and vegetation, suppress plant diseases and pests, prevent erosion and promote higher yields of agricultural crops.
Did you know? Compost can...
- suppress plant diseases and pests.
- reduce or eliminate the need for potentially harmful chemical fertilizers.
- promote higher yields of agricultural crops.
- facilitate reforestation, wetlands restoration, and habitat revitalization efforts by amending contaminated, compacted, and marginal soils.
- cost-effectively remediate soils contaminated by hazardous waste.
- remove solids, oil, grease, and heavy metals from stormwater runoff.
- capture and destroy 99.6 percent of industrial volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) in contaminated air.
- provide cost savings of at least 50 percent over conventional soil, water, and air pollution remediation technologies, where applicable.
- help combat climate change.
Learn more here.
Combating Climate Change
Composting is also one of the easiest ways to reduce your climate change impact. When discarded in a landfill, biodegradable materials decompose without oxygen, or anaerobically, and create the greenhouse gas methane, which has 72 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide over the short term! Composting keeps these materials out of the landfill, prevents these methane emissions and puts the materials back to good use.
The impact is tremendous: If we all composted all of our biodegradable discards, it would be like shutting down 21% of U.S. coal-fired power plants!
Read our groundbreaking report, Stop Trashing the Climate, and join Eco-Cycle’s campaign against landfilling biodegradable discards, COOL 2012.
Next week, we’ll cover how to make your own compost, whether you have a backyard or not!