Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Green Living Feature of the Week - Composting

Composting household scrap/waste organic matter is a great Earth-friendly, sustainable living activity.  It is beneficial because:
  • Composting prevents organic materials from going to landfills, where they contribute to landfill volume and generate methane gas.  Reduction of volume going to landfills also reduces the amount of vehicle fuel burned transporting waste to landfills and the pollutant generation associated with burning the fuel.
  • Compost replaces chemical fertilizers.  Gardeners can grow great organic vegetables using compost to add nutrients to the soil.  Eliminating chemical fertilizers also reduces the pollution generated in the fertilizer production process, and conserves the raw materials used for fertilizer production.  It also reduces fertilizer run-off into our watersheds.
  • Compost builds better soil for gardening.  In addition to adding nutrients, it loosens the soil and helps moisture retention.
  • If you don't garden, compost makes a great mulch to use around trees and bushes.
I keep a covered compost pail under the kitchen sink to hold compostables between trips outside to the compost bins.  Compostable ingredients are generally classified as "green" (nitrogen-rich) and "brown" (carbon-rich).  It's good to use a mixture of the two. Examples of "green" materials are vegetable/fruit scraps and peelings from the kitchen.  Examples of "brown" materials are leaves and grass clippings.  Here are some of the types of things I compost:
  • Vegetable and fruit peelings and scraps.
  • Coffee grounds.
  • Tea bags.
  • Egg shells.
  • Leaves.
  • Grass trimmings.
  • Garden plant & house plant debris.
  • Yard trimmings.
  • Sawdust.
  • Paper (in small quantities).


Brian said...

Good post. We keep our "experiment" under the kitchen sink, too. We also bring our lunch scraps home and dump them in the experiment. Right now our compost pile is a bit overwhelmed with all of the leaves!

Vern said...

Brian, thanks for the comment! This post is intended to be the first of a series of weekly follow-ups to last week's "Living Green By" list, each post featuring one of the listed activities. Stay tuned for more!

It sounds like you are doing well on the composting. I'm sure that you are buried in leaves in Maryland about now. We're just beginning to have a few fall.

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Great post! I recently started bokashi (bucket) composting b/c I wanted a something a little less maintenance than what I thought a typical compost pile required (don't you have to turn it a lot and make sure you've got enough "browns" and "greens"?). Anyway - the bokashi composting was super easy...can't wait to see if it helps my soil!

Vern said...

Kathryn, yes-- a traditional compost pile is higher maintenance. When I used the method in the past, I had to buy a pitchfork and dig in the pile every few days to turn and aerate it.

I'm currently using the Urban Compost Tumbler 9. It's basically a big plastic barrel with a lid, mounted on a base. It attaches to the base by a shaft that runs through the center of the diameter of the barrel. And it has an aeration pipe with holes in it that runs from the bottom of the barrel through the inside. Whenever I add to it, I just give it a couple of spins; never have to actually turn the contents. It's pretty easy, and composts a lot quicker than a pile.

I wasn't familiar with bokashi, but as I researched it a little, it looked like a good method; quick and easy. I may have to try it! I wonder if that's what Brian's using under his kitchen sink.

It will definitely help your soil. Stay tuned for next week's Green Living Feature: Organic Home Gardening!

Thanks for telling me about bokashi!

Brian said...

Haha! Nope, right now, our under the kitchen sink experiment bucket is an old Scoop Away cat litter container. Looking forward to next week's gardening post.

Vern said...

From what I saw online, one can purchase a bokashi compost bucket from a variety of sources, but a cat litter container or any plastic bucket with a tight fitting lid could be used, as long as the special bacteria mixture is added. Seems like it's an anaerobic process, unlike other composting methods, so the top needs to seal.