All my friends know I am a BIG advocate of composting. To be honest, I think everyone should be composting. If you compost daily, thank you! If not, let’s see if I can convince you with global examples of composting that are making a real difference.
Composting is the process of taking organic matter such as kitchen scraps-potato peels, carrot tops, stems of cauliflower and broccoli, onion skins, etc. — and turning these scraps into a nutrient filled soil called compost.
When you throw these scraps away, they usually end up in plastic bags dumped in a landfill wherever your local municipality disposes of their trash. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 20 percent of what goes into US municipal landfills is food. Not only is the disposed food waste not helping the earth, its hurting it.
“When food is disposed in a landfill it rots and becomes a significant source of methane – a potent greenhouse gas with 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.” (Forbes Article)
Through a program called Vision 2020, the United Kingdom has been working to reduce the amount of food waste sent to landfills. Since 2013, the country has reduced food waste going to landfills by almost two million tonnes.
“Vision 2020 stated that the UK could save more than £17 billion a year if it achieved zero food waste to landfill by 2020, through a combination of solutions. It recommended a focus on ensuring that surplus edible food is redistributed to those in need, or sent for use as animal and pet food, while unavoidable, non-edible waste should be used to generate energy and organic fertilizer through anaerobic digestion (AD) and in-vessel composting processes.” (Source)
Sending food to the landfill is actually harmful for the earth.
What about the garbage disposal?
Is that better for the environment?
When you put food down the drain, usually with the help of a garbage disposal, local water municipalities then have to separate the food waste from the water at the water treatment plants. The treatment plants then need to dispose of the biosolids. Some municipalities send it to landfills (to again rot and produce methane gas) while others burn it. Other treatment plants create a fertilizer out of the waste – fertilizer to add nutrients to the soil because the food scraps weren’t composted… which would have created the nutrients naturally. Wouldn’t it be easier to just compost the food waste?
The earth has been naturally composting since the beginning of time. When a tree falls in the forest, it slowly decomposes and eventually becomes part of the soil again. This decomposed tree adds nutrients to the soil allowing new trees to grow. The cycle of life.
Still not convinced? Read on about the power of composting from Costa Rica.
Back in the mid-1990’s Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs, ecologists at the University of Pennsylvania, worked as researchers and technical advisers at Área de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG, Guanacaste Conservation Area) in Costa Rica.
Land within the park was nutrient poor and they negotiated a deal with local Del Oro orange juice manufacturer to dump their orange peel waste, at no cost, onto degraded land within the park. The first year the company dumped 12,000 metric tons of orange peels.
Due to lawsuits by a rival orange juice company, the dumping stopped after one year and the land was ignored for fifteen years until Princeton University sent in a team to investigate. While the surrounding acreage still had exposed rock and dry grass, the plot of land covered with the orange peels was lush with vegetation. Biologists calculated there was a 176 percent increase in aboveground biomass!
B. Rose Kelly with Princeton University writes:
“What they found were dramatic differences between the areas covered in orange peels and those that were not. The area fertilized by orange waste had richer soil, more tree biomass, greater tree-species richness and greater forest canopy closure.” princeton.edu
If the orange peels had been sent to a landfill, this plot of land would still be sparse and nutrient deprived. Nature doesn’t ask for much… just send back to the land anything that isn’t used.
Hopefully these global examples of composting have convinced you that composting is not only beneficial, but essential, for a healthy earth.
But maybe you’re thinking it’s more than you can handle?
Actually, composting is SUPER easy! I spend about ten minutes a week on my compost pile. Everyone can find ten minutes a week to help out the earth.