10 Steps to Composting Your Way to A Better World

You don’t have to live on 5 acres of land or have a degree in Martha Stewart to compost. It’s a simple process anyone living in an apartment or mansion can do. The benefits are great and varied and can be very rewarding.

1. Reduce your garbage bill
Since we started composting our food and paper, we went from a weekly garbage pick up to an ever-other-week schedule. Most weeks we don’t even fill the bin (unless we clean out the garage). By going to this schedule we have saved over $100 a year on our garbage bill.

2. Reduce your contributions to the local landfill
It’s so easy to just throw things away when you are done with them but composting will make you think about what you’re throwing away (and buying) and whether it can be composted. Composing your food reduces greenhouse gases and impact on the local landfill. It is nature’s way of recycling. Your local worm population will love you.

3. Improves your lawn and garden
The hummus or dirt generated by composting can be spread over your lawn as a fertilizer, spread over your plants and used as dirt in your garden. You can also put it your houseplants and spread it under trees and shrubs. Last summer we put a layer of hummus under our slow-growing ginkgo tree and it grew half a foot. Our herbs perked up and we had to give away oregano to friends because we had too much.

4. Your neighbors will love you
Any skilled composter will tell you that browns (grass, leaves, etc) can be difficult to find over the winter. This year we raked up all the leaves in our yard and two of our neighbor’s yards and put them in our compost bin. We had so many leaves we made two more bins of leaves. None of our neighbors complained when we raked up all their leaves. We even went to the local park and raked up those leaves.

5. Your local barista will love you
Coffee grounds are one of the best ingredients for your pile. You don’t have to grind them; they are mushy and already broken down. Make friends with your local barista at a busy coffee shop and ask them to keep the coffee grounds for you. Unless another gardener or composter has gotten to them, you won’t be turned down. Some coffee shops will put their grounds out in big bags for the public to take.

6. Those rotted vegetables in your fridge? Compost!
I’m sure Martha Stewart never lets food in her fridge turn to mush. But I do. I forget about the scallions in the bottom draw and that half head of cabbage I keep meaning to use. Yes, it’s gross and slimy but it’s already broken down and can be dumped in your pile.

7. Good Exercise
Compost is going to happen whether you turn your pile or not. However, turning your compost pile gives it air and accelerates the breakdown of the organic matter. It is also an excellent upper body workout. You bend and use a pitchfork while shoveling and working up a good sweat. It saves money on gym fees AND you do it every three to five days.

8. You Won’t Have To Talk Politics at Parties and Get-Togethers
Believe it or not, when people find out you are composting they will ask you about it. People are interested. They will ask you about how to do it and how to get started. Avid gardeners will want to exchange ideas and argue about when to turn your pile and what is the best bin to use. A friend who makes compost bins and sells them at trade shows says people have strong opinions about bins and area always willing to give their 2-cents.

9. Lawn trimmings are compostable!
Got a manual lawnmower? Rake up the grass trimmings and throw them in your bin! Plus in addition to lowering your garbage bill, composting your yard waste saves you more money since you aren’t paying the city to haul it away.

10. It Makes You Feel Good
If all these reasons aren’t enough for you to start composting then how about this: The simple act of composting makes you feel good. It reduces your waste and saves the planet. You will save money on your garbage bill and save money on food because the hummus can be used in your garden to grow your own food.

Anna Alexander, Staff Writer, www.FamilyAcademyOnline.com
Anna Alexander is a freelance writer and producer. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and cat who lets them pay his mortgage. She can be reached at anna@acloserlookradio.com

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