May 29th is National Learn About Composting Day, and to celebrate, we wanted to share with you what we’ve learned about composting, and how you participate at home!
What is Composting?
Composting is the process of breaking down organic matter into fertilizer for the soil. While all organic material will break down eventually, composting accelerates the process by combining the ideal balance of heat, aeration, and moisture.
Why Should You Compost?
Composting has a number of environmental and economic benefits, including:
- Improving soil health without the use of chemical pesticides
- Recycling food waste
- Decreasing methane emissions in landfills
- Reducing costs associated with waste management
How Do You Compost At Home?
Home composting is typically done in the backyard, and there are two different types you can try: cold composting and hot composting.
Cold composting is a fairly easy, but slow process. You simply collect food scraps and other organic materials into a bin or pile, then let nature do its thing as the materials naturally decompose. This method usually takes a year or two to yield any usable compost, but it’s great for anyone who doesn’t have the time for more involved composting.
For those looking for faster composting and willing to be more active in the process, hot composting is the other option. With hot composting, your compost bin or pile has to maintain a balance of four different elements: oxygen, water, nitrogen, and carbon. This balance creates the ideal environment for aerobic organisms to thrive and break down organic materials. Ideally, a hot compost pile would maintain a temperature of 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and would need to be rotated or turned on a regular basis (weekly in the summer, once a month in the winter). You may also need to water your pile periodically if it isn’t getting enough moisture naturally.
What Goes Into a Compost Bin?
Like we mentioned above, two elements that are necessary for a compost bin are nitrogen and carbon. Ideally, your bin would maintain a ratio of around 4:1 carbon to nitrogen. Nitrogen comes from what is known as “green material,” while carbon is found in “brown material.”
Green Material Includes:
- Fruit scraps
- Vegetable scraps
- Coffee grounds
- Grass clippings
- Fresh leaves
- Tea bags
Brown Material Includes:
- Dead leaves
- Shredded newspaper
- Twigs and branches
- Bark chips
- Pine needles
What Can’t You Compost?
Some items should not be composted because they will cause odors, attract animals and pests, and leave harmful bacteria in your pile. These items include:
- Meat scraps
- Dairy products
- Animal or human waste
- Anything containing oil, fat, or grease
- Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides
- Pet litter
- Diseased plants
- Coal or charcoal ash
How Do You Know When Compost Is Finished and What Do You Do With It?
Once your compost is finished, it’ll look a little different. Your pile will have a dark color, smell earthy, have a crumbly and smooth texture, and be about a third of its original size. If your compost checks of those boxes, then it is mature and ready to use.
You can add your compost to potted plants, use it in garden beds, and turn it into mulch, among other uses. Luckily, mature compost doesn’t go bad!
What If You Can’t/Don’t Want to Compost at Home?
That’s not a problem! Many cities and communities offer municipal composting programs, with pickup services or drop off options. Programs that include pickup services usually provide a separate bin for compost materials, but you can also purchase a small compost keeper for your kitchen if you’re going to drop off your materials.
Use Find a Composter to search for composting programs in your city!
DAZZ is passionate about composting, which is why we are committed to creating compostable packaging and finding ways to make it easier for our customers to compost DAZZ products.