Energy Tech Tips Community

by Limus Woods

The main reason many people decide they want to start composting at home is simply to do their part to preserve the environment. When unused food is thrown away and sent to landfills, most of us know how harmful the methane is that’s given off from these huge trash heaps - it contributes greatly to global warming.

Imagine how much good it would do the environment if everybody decided to compost. The University of California San Francisco’s Office of Sustainability noted information from the U.S. Composting Council. The council’s research indicates that if everyone in the United States would compost all of their food waste, then it would be comparable to taking almost 8 million vehicles off the road.

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What is Composting?

Norman Clark, a horticulturist who did a segment on the Do It Yourself Network, broke down what composting is for the curious studio audience. “Composting is a decay of organic materials and that’s done by bacteria and fungi,” he told The Queen of Clean Linda Cobb in the interview. “Then, when a lot of other little creatures get involved in that, centipedes, millipedes, beetles and earthworms, they all work together in conjunction to break down materials into useful materials that your lawn and grass can use…you can put any kind of organic material in there.”

Initially, some people may feel that when composting they can throw any type of food in with the twigs, leaves, and grass that they’ll be using to create the rich, healthy, nutrient filled soil that is called humus, and what avid gardeners have over the years nicknamed ‘Black Gold’. But, experts always advise that meat products, including bones, should not be added to compost, because it generates a very bad smell, is not good for the compost itself, and also will attract unwanted wild animals to your yard.

Why Compost at Home?  

Another wonderful reason many adults want to begin composting at home is that they want to set a good example for their children. Besides, we all are trying to preserve the environment for them, the future generation. In many school cafeterias across the country, there is a can labeled ‘compost’ where kids dump only leftover food items, and they put napkins, milk cartons and other non-food items in different cans. When parents start to compost at home, it’ll become even more natural for their children to do it, grow up and show their children how to do it, then their grandchildren, and so on.

So, What Do You Need to Begin Composting at Home?  

The first thing you need when beginning your routine of composting at home is a good composting pail for your kitchen. Some people may use a plastic container with a snap lid on it, and that may work for a while, but it can be kind of inconvenient. And, if you don’t dump it very frequently, you have to worry about the smell. The stainless steel ones are durable, and they blend in well in any kitchen, so well that a person probably wouldn’t know that it’s a compost pail unless you told them. Aside from looking great on your countertop, they can hold about a gallon of unused organic food.

All you have to do is toss any organic food in it and regularly take it to your compost pile outside. Every 2 or 3 days is good to dump it, and they’re very easy to clean. The best thing about the stainless steel kitchen compost pail is that the smell of old food is virtually eliminated. It has removable dual charcoal filters, so even if you forget to dump it for several days you won’t have a bad odor in your kitchen.

For an outdoor compost container, some people will build a bin where they can dump their organic food waste and yard waste in order to create good usable humus. This may work for many people, but the truth is, as busy as most adults are, they simply may not have time to do everything manually. But, there are many composting bins that you can purchase for a reasonable price that will make your composting process much simpler, and that will get you the ‘Black Gold’ soil result that you are looking for to feed your yard and garden naturally.

With a bin like this one, all you basically have to do is take your kitchen scraps out to it, dump them inside, add an equal amount of grass, dry leaves, and other yard waste, add a little water, stir it with a pitchfork, close it, and go back in the house.  Over time the finished product will develop at the bottom of the bin. You will be able to easily access it by a small door at the bottom that you can lift up and see the Black Gold soil, scoop it out, and begin using it.

Most people who buy these never have to empty them out. There are holes for ventilation, and, as long as they keep their food and yard waste evenly distributed and as wet as it needs to be, they’ll have an endless supply of compost. It is still important to monitor the temperature of it. When a pile is actively composting correctly, it should be anywhere between 130 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit when you stick a thermometer deep into the middle of it.

Using a composting bin such as this one will save you a lot of time and energy. Still, you could compost the old school way by digging a hole, layering it with twigs and other yard waste like dried leaves, adding in your organic food leftovers, then covering it up with dirt. If you want to get a good workout, using a shovel to chop up all of that stuff will definitely make you break a sweat! If you do decide to use this old method because you like being outdoors, then you need to have something to cover up that place where you dug the hole (such as a concrete slab) in order to keep away animals like raccoons.