Updated: Aug 9
by Lou Anne DaRin
I thought I’d say a few more words on composting because it’s such an important issue. Have you heard about the Drawdown List?
It is a list some experts have put together on things that could be done to have a positive impact for the Earth. Number three on that list is food waste! I recently learned that 50% of what is in landfills is made up of food waste and yard waste (30% food waste, 20% yard waste). Both of those can be composted and kept out of landfills entirely!
You might be saying to yourself “What difference does it make, it breaks down in both places.” Here’s the difference: when it breaks down in a landfill in the absence of oxygen, methane gas is released into the atmosphere. Methane gas has 25 times more warming impact on the Earth than carbon dioxide. When food waste and yard waste breaks down in a compost bin where there is oxygen and water, it turns into rich soil that benefits the Earth and just a minimal amount
of methane gas is released.
There is really no reason not to compost. Simply place a bucket under your sink and place food scraps into it instead of throwing them out. If you don’t want to deal with a backyard compost bin there are companies you can work with (like Impact Earth - https://www.impactearthroc.com/). They do the work for you, for a fee. You either pay for your bucket to be picked up weekly from your home or you can bring your bucket to a designated place to drop off.
Doing your own backyard composting is easy and cost efficient. You simply need a spot to place a bin (can be store bought or an old garbage can with holes drilled in to let in air). If you are handy you can build a composting structure with a wooden frame and chicken wire. I like to have a cover on mine to keep animals out.
Once you have your bin in place, just start adding your kitchen scraps. Every time I bring a bucket of food scraps out to my bin, I walk over to the hose and fill that same bucket up with water that I then pour into the bin (cleans out the bucket at the same time). Add yard waste whenever you have it (grass, leaves, cuttings, etc.). Your bin should have more yard waste than food scraps. The combination of the two, with water and oxygen creates the perfect recipe to cook the contents and produce a beautiful rich soil for you to use in your gardens. Every once in a while use a pitch fork to turn your compost. That adds the oxygen needed to help your food break down.
I’ve been asked if I continue to compost in the winter and the answer is yes. When my backyard is covered with snow, I don’t want to be climbing through the snow to reach the bin on a regular basis, so I set up a temporary “winter compost” right outside my garage door. I use an old garbage can for this and use a bungee cord to fasten it to my fence and hold the cover on it. All winter I bring my food scraps out to that garbage can. Meanwhile my original bin is “cooking” all winter so when spring rolls around it has become fertile soil and is ready to be emptied out and added to my garden. Now I can pour my winter compost into the bin, add water and yard waste and start the process all over again.
Whether you choose to use a professional company to compost your food scraps or you do your own backyard composting, it is a giant step towards drawing down your carbon footprint. Congratulations for taking that step!