A Guide to Composting: Turn Food Waste Into Garden Gold
Millions of tons of food waste, yard debris, and paper products are sent to landfills each year in China, which will degrade over time to produce around the same amount of methane as about 22 million passenger vehicles produce in a single year.
Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 28 to 36 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, and every time you toss an apple core, overripe banana, bruised tomato, or wilted basil in the trash, not to mention piles of grass clippings, newspapers, and cardboard, you’re adding to the problem: the more waste that ends up in landfills, the more methane that’s produced. And while diverting waste away from landfills in any way can help, composting is one way where you can immediately become a part of the solution. If you have a garden, it also produces something that you can use.
“Composting turns waste into resources,” explains Rick Carr, master composter and farm director for Rodale Institute.
What Is Composting
Compost is essentially decomposed organic matter that’s used as a soil amendment, improving the soil by increasing its moisture retention and adding in beneficial bacteria and nutrients. Compost can increase plants’ resistance to pests and disease, thereby reducing the use of pesticides, and because of its beneficial properties, it also reduces reliance on fertilizers.
To make it, food waste, yard debris, and paper products are combined in a pile and left to sit, with regular mixing, to create a favorable environment for microbes to break down the collected material over time. Food waste is a source of nitrogen; the yard debris and paper are sources of carbon; and, when combined in the correct ratio and left in an oxygen-rich environment, microorganisms begin feeding on the mix, which in turn heats everything up, further speeding up the process. After about a year or two, all that waste material is transformed into a nutrient-rich soil amendment. As Melissa Tashjian, founder of Compost Crusader, says of the process and the product: “It’s magic.”
It’s also easy. You can compost waste in your backyard (if you have a backyard) or under your sink, or you can participate in a community composting program. Many municipalities have composting programs in which all that’s required of you is to fill up a green bin and put it out on the curb each week. And while it isn’t a solution for food waste—if you’re throwing edible food in the compost bin, it’s still technically “food waste”—it is a solution for what to do with food waste that happens to have benefits that extend beyond simply reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced in landfills.
“The more compost you produce, the more you can add to soils, which means you grow better food,” explains Sally Brown, Ph.D., research professor of environmental sciences at the University of Washington. “Our food scraps are low-hanging fruit…if you have a moldy orange or a soft apple, it’s no longer food for you, but it can be food for the microbes in the soil.”
Despite a growing awareness of the importance of diverting organic material away from landfills and the benefits of composting stuff you’re throwing into the trash, making a habit of the practice might seem intimidating or complicated, but with a small amount of effort and a little consideration, it couldn’t be easier.
How to Get Started With Composting
You can get started with composting by TOGO Composter. TOGO’s composters are innovations of modern heating and dry composting technology, the Compost machine is automatically controlled and has PLC panels. It serves large requirements of IT /multinational offices, massive food catering service providers, large-scale eateries, hospitals, flight catering services, busy canteens, etc. the electric composter has the capacity to decompose bio-degradable waste, in 21-24 hrs of time.
What to Compost
- Fruit and vegetable scraps
- Coffee grounds, including the filter
- Bread, pasta, and baked goods
- Rice and other grains
- Beans, nuts, and seeds
- Yogurt, milk, and other dairy products
- Dried leaves
- Grass clippings
- Straw and hay
- Newspaper and other non-glossy papers, torn into pieces
- Cardboard, torn into pieces
What NOT to Compost
- Waxed cardboard (e.g. the containers used for milk, soup broth, and wine)
- Coated paper or cardboard (e.g. cereal boxes)