According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), food scraps and yard waste account for more than 28% of garbage in landfills and combustion facilities. Composting is an excellent choice for people who want to reduce the amount of food they throw away.
It is a natural method to recycle food and yard waste and contribute to the environment by enriching the soil for plants. During the process, microorganisms break down organic materials. Different composts have different properties.
At EcoRich, our mission is to make composting as easy as possible for the average household, which is why we designed a composter line for urban and suburban households. We provide truly sustainable composting solutions. Read on to learn more about the many benefits and problems of composting, and about how you can easily create compost.
What Are the Benefits of Composting?
Compost refers to any organic matter that has decomposed and has been recycled as a soil fertilizer. The decomposition process is good for your soil, your family, and the environment. Some of its many benefits include:
Mulching Yard Waste
Composting grass clippings, leaves, plant cuttings, and other organic waste is more practical than bagging and throwing them away. In some cases, putting them in a compost pile is less work and less expensive than throwing them away.
Fertilizing Your Soil with Nutrients
Composting organic wastes in your yard can increase the amount of beneficial microorganisms and nutrients in the soil, loosen clay that inhibits plant growth, and improve the soil's ability to hold moisture. Thus, your soil will become healthier, and your plants will be able to produce more fruits and vegetables.
By choosing to compost your clippings and food scraps instead of throwing them away you can conserves landfill space since these clippings and scraps will no longer end up in the waste pile.
Greenhouse Gas Reduction
You can reduce your carbon footprint while improving soil quality by storing carbon in the soil. Composting improves the earth's overall carbon cycle by sequestering carbon (to the point of becoming a carbon sink if used on a larger, agricultural scale) and managing overall atmospheric CO2 concentrations.
Common Compost Problems and Their Solutions
The temperature levels at the center of the compost pile are usually higher than in other areas. If the heat does not begin to accumulate within a week or so, the nitrogen content is most likely too low. Try to add more "green" items to the pile. If it is the middle of winter, cold weather may be an issue. To protect the microbes from cold weather and keep them active, insulate the pile with straw bales and cover it with black plastic.
Pests Causing Problems
The presence of flies and maggots in the compost pile may be a nuisance because flies lay eggs in decaying vegetation. To prevent flies from flocking to the heap, ensure that the material is chopped small before adding it to the pile, and add a layer of brown material every time something is added. Lastly, cover the heap with a mesh screen to keep flies away.
Lack of Moisture
Dry compost piles don't decompose. When building a pile, add copious amounts of water with each layer and leave a flat top, so rainwater can penetrate the heap. If the pile does not feel damp, add water to dampen it. Adding too much water is less of an issue (especially if it is well aerated) than letting the pile dry out.
An Unpleasant Odor
Ideally, your compost pile should have a semisweet outdoorsy scent, not like sewage or ammonia. If it smells like sewage, you may have to aerate and stir it more often. Adding more soil to the medley will solve this issue. If your compost smells like ammonia, it's probably because there is too much green (excess nitrogen from food decomposition) in the mix and not enough brown.
How to Compost
- Start your compost pile on bare earth to let worms and other organisms aerate the compost and carry it to your garden beds.
- Begin by laying twigs or straw a few inches deep to improve drainage and to aerate the pile.
- Compost materials should be layered, alternately moist and dry. Moist ingredients include food scraps, tea bags, seaweed, and more. Dry materials include straw, leaves, sawdust pellets, and wood ashes.
- Add manure, green manure (clover, buckwheat, wheatgrass, grass clippings) or any nitrogen source to speed up the composting process.
- It's important to keep the compost moist. Water it occasionally, or let the rain do the job.
- Cover it with whatever you have such as wood, plastic sheeting, or carpet scraps. Covering helps to retain moisture and heat, both of which are necessary for composting. It also keeps rain from over-watering the compost. The compost should be moist but not soaked.
- Make sure you turn the pile every couple of weeks to aerate it. Oxygen is essential for the process to work, and turning "adds" oxygen. If you have a ready supply of coarse material, such as straw, you can skip this step. Once you have established a compost pile, add new materials by mixing instead of adding them in layers. Mixing, or turning, the compost pile is key to aerating the materials and speeding up the composting process.
How EcoRich Can help with Composting
Now that you understand the benefits of composting, the issues associated with it, and how you can easily make compost, it is time to start composting for a better environment right away. Composting is a natural and healthy way to reduce landfill waste and enhance plant growth. It may also encourage people to use fewer chemical pesticides and fertilizers, which may have a positive impact on their health.
At EcoRich, we offer a line of home composters as well as a line of commercial composters (Elite II 24 hour composter and Rapido 14 day rotary composters) with capacities ranging from 20 pounds to 4000 pounds per day and options that make recycling simple and cost-effective for large food waste producers. Our products offer a more traditional composting experience without the pests, odors, and overall lack of aesthetic appeal that is commonly associated with composting.