Guest post by Eric H, another compost enthusiast!
Composting has become more and more popular over the years as more homeowners and communities are working to help create a cleaner, “greener” environment. If you’re not familiar with the process, composting is when we take food and plant waste and recycle it through its natural process, creating compost which can be used as a natural fertilizer. It has a number of great benefits for our health and environment.
When we throw away food waste in the trash, it gets taken by our local waste management company (or by your dad on Saturday mornings to your local “dump”) and that’s the last you typically think about it. No one goes about their day thinking about where the trash ends up, how it is stored, what becomes of it, and how it has a negative impact on our environment.
Waste in landfills creates harmful greenhouse gasses in several ways. Trash burned in an incinerator produces chemicals like Carbon Dioxide and the even more harmful Nitrous Oxide and tend to more CO2 than your average power plant! Also, the food waste that breaks down in a landfill decomposes in such a way that it creates Methane, which we know is another greenhouse gas.
Everybody knows that the world would be a better place with healthier plants. Unfortunately, the need for commercial fertilizers and pesticides is a reality for now, but one that could have less of an impact on the environment with the addition of more available compost.
If we need to produce less conditioners, fertilizers, and pesticides, then we’re using less energy to produce them in the process, another way composting helps reduce those scorned greenhouse gasses. Fertilizers also bind to compost and are thus less likely to pollute waterways and groundwater.
In addition to needing less polluting pesticides and greenhouse gasses, the real benefits to the actual soil is that it makes it healthy! Compost adds things like microbes and slow-release nutrients which holds water and improves growth of the plants around it.
Additionally, compost helps lighten clay-based soil while helping sandy soil hold water, helps balance the soil's PH and control erosion. Compost attracts helpful earthworms and microorganisms as well. These are just a few ways compost returns soil to a healthier state.
Lawncare expert Matt Coz reminds us “the fall is such a great time to start a composting project as many of us have direct access to one of nature’s core compost building blocks. With the leaves falling it’s an ideal opportunity to put them to work in a compost pile that with limited effort, will turn into a great soil amendment for any of your home gardening projects.”
Gardening can be both a solitary or group hobby, whether it’s a couple enjoying the beautiful fall weather on the weekends or the community co-op members who meet up to share locally grown produce. Add composting to the mix and now you’re helping not only your own garden but the gardens of your community, and spreading the practice to others looking to help clean the environment.
One of the reasons many of us have jumped into the world of composting starts with our love for the outdoors and the natural world that sometimes we forget exists outside of our television and smartphones. Gardening can be such a release, getting our hands dirty to create and nurture our plants and food. There’s a special kind of feeling of satisfaction with it.
Composting helps take this enjoyment of the outdoors a step further by reminding you about the natural order of our world, and how the cycle of life works. Instead of our food becoming waste, it gets returned to the earth from which it came, helping to create and grow new life, a concept that sometimes gets forgotten. We then play a role in this natural order of life through our composting efforts!