Ever wonder where all of your extra food scraps and garbage go once you throw them away? Food that is produced but not eaten ends up in landfills and creates methane, a greenhouse gas that is harmful to the environment. As landfills continue to overflow, it’s clear that taking steps to lower our carbon footprint is necessary.
One way to reduce food waste from entering into landfills is by learning how to compost it instead. Compost is the process in which organic material, like food scraps, is converted into nutrient-rich soil that can be used in your garden or to pot plants.
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There are four integral materials needed in order to compost. Oxygen is necessary as the organisms in your pile that break down the food scraps need air to breathe in order to survive. Water is also a staple ingredient as it helps with decomposition and regulates the pile’s temperature. Brown materials like dead leaves and shredded paper are also essential as they add carbon to your pile. Lastly, green materials like vegetables and fruit scraps add nitrogen to your pile. You’ll want to keep a ⅓ ratio in your compost of nitrogen to carbon materials.
What You Should and Shouldn’t Compost
It’s important to remember that your compost contains living organisms so never add any toxic chemicals or poisonous plants to your compost. This includes coal, ash, and pet droppings.
What you can add to your compost pile are any brown or green materials that can naturally decompose. For your convenience, we’ve included a list of items below.
- Shredded newspaper
- Dead leaves
- Twigs and branches
- Dead flowers
- Coffee grounds
- Grass and leaves
Now that you understand the rules of composting, it’s time to select a method for doing so. If you live in an apartment, out and indoor space might be limited. No fear! The folks at Zolo created a guide to apartment composting that outlines a few methods that are perfect for composting in a smaller space. We’ve included a few below to inspire you.
Set Up a Worm Bin
Worm bins are a great composting method for smaller spaces. While the idea of worms might make your skin crawl, they offer a low maintenance option that can easily be stored out of sight. You can either create your own worm bin or purchase a ready-made one to get you started.
Use a Food Digester
Food digesters are small enough to fit on your counter and use electricity to quickly break down food scraps. They can be discreetly hidden and don’t require worms!
Donate Food Scraps
One of the easiest ways to limit food waste is to donate food scraps to a local farmer’s market or community garden. They will take care of the composting for you!
Whether you try setting up a worm bin or simply save your scraps to be donated at a local farmer’s market, explore the different options for urban composting that will keep your space clean and tidy.
Explore the visual guide below to get started!