What did you have for breakfast this morning? A vegetable omelette? Fruit? Coffee? What did you do with the eggshells, onion skins, banana peel, and coffee grounds? You didn’t throw them in the trash did you? Well let’s change that.
Composting your food waste at home has so many benefits — from beautifying and fortifying your garden to reducing landfill waste (and your carbon footprint). It can even save you money. Here are six reasons you should be home composting:
- Improves Your Soil Quality
- Conserves Water
- Reduces Chemicals
- Saves Money
- Reduces Your Carbon Footprint
- Makes the Most of Your Waste
Compost is a go-to for farmers and home gardeners alike. It’s concentrated goodness that breaks down over time, slowly releasing what your flowers and plants need. Compost contains the three primary nutrients plants need: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. It also has valuable micronutrients, minerals, and balances pH levels. In addition, compost helps improve soil structure by adding aeration and moisture retention so plant roots can absorb more.
When plants are grown in soils with a high compost ratio, they tend to grow bigger and stronger — and a healthier garden is better at fighting off pests and disease. It also means more tasty produce and beautiful flowers — and who doesn’t love that?
Compost is critical for water conservation. It has the remarkable ability to absorb and hold a massive amount of moisture, which assists in plant growth, stormwater management, and erosion prevention. In fact, compost can hold up to 20X its weight in water. This benefits the soil in two ways. First, it gives plants consistent access to moisture, even when rain patterns are unpredictable. Second, if you live near a body of water, compost allows water to penetrate deep into the ground and replenish nearby springs, ponds, and lakes.
When used in larger amounts, compost helps prevent chemical fertilizer runoff from polluting local water sources and is effective at stopping erosion. All in all, compost’s ability to retain water offers many benefits to your garden — and beyond.
Whether you’re planning to grow vegetables or you’re just concerned about the health of your family and pets — it’s essential to keep harmful chemicals out of your garden. Compost supercharges your soil quality, so you don’t have to rely on synthetic fertilizers. It also reduces your need for dangerous pesticides, as those healthy plants we mentioned before can do a better job fending for themselves.
In addition to potentially harmful health effects, chemical fertilizers carry a large carbon footprint. They’re manufactured far from where you live, stored, and then shipped all the way to you. That’s a lot, especially when there’s a far superior product you can manufacture right there in your own home.
The cost of waste management is continually increasing. That’s because landfill space is shrinking, and transportation costs are higher than they’ve ever been. Less food waste leaving your home, means a lower overall cost to process and far less pressure on the system. Composting can prevent hundreds of tons of food waste from ending up in landfills — AND save you and your community money (both in both bills and hidden costs).
Composting will most likely cut down your grocery bills as well. When you compost, you get a better idea of your consumption habits and what items tend to go unused. This makes you a smarter eater, and a smarter shopper. And we all know what happens to smart shoppers. They save — c’mon, stay with me.
Compost is critical to lowering our collective carbon footprint. Not only does it store carbon-rich material in the ground, but it also actively promotes carbon sequestration. Ok, we got all science-y there, but the idea is, composting promotes the growth of beneficial microbes that plants use to absorb key nutrients. To feed these microbes, plants take in carbon dioxide from the air and turn it into carbohydrates, which are released through their roots into the soil. This process creates humus (no relation) – a nutrient-dense mixture that helps make soil more fertile and hold more carbon — keeping it out of the atmosphere.
Kitchen and yard waste is the largest segment of a typical household’s waste stream. For most families, it comprises approximately one-third of their total garbage. And that’s, total garbage. (Sorry, we’re almost at the end.) The way you manage this waste at home is WAY better for the earth than what the landfill would do. The fact of the matter is, huge garbage dump piles don’t receive enough airflow to go through the aerobic composting process. Instead, those piles go through anaerobic decomposition, which creates methane — a gas much stronger than carbon dioxide that contributes significantly to climate change. The opposite of what conscientious composting does.
Soil and food waste are topics that most of us don’t spend too much time thinking about — but we should. Composting at home is rewarding, money-saving, and easier than you think. And Boston is at the leading edge, with initiatives that teach people how to compost, programs that pick up your kitchen and yard waste, and community boxes where you can drop it off. This Spring, make the commitment to give composting a try — your garden, and the earth, will thank you.