We’re often made to think of the bigger, more impactful things we can do for the environment, like buying an electric car, driving less, and installing solar panels. But there are small ways to help, too. You’ve probably heard about composting, but have you ever considered getting your own compost bin?
What is Composting?
Composting is the process of recycling organic, biodegradable waste into nutrient-rich soil. In nature, all organic matter eventually decomposes back into the earth. Composting accelerates this process by creating an environment that allows microorganisms to break down the organic matter quickly.
How does this happen? Bacteria and fungi break down organic materials into a nutrient-rich soil amendment. When you use a compost bin, your kitchen scraps and yard waste are converted into compost in as little as a few weeks. With a little care, your compost bin can provide rich organic soil for your garden or lawn.
Why Composting is Good for the Environment
When you recycle your kitchen scraps and yard waste, you do more than create a healthy supply of compost for your garden: You also give back to the environment by reducing methane gas emissions and conserving landfills. When organic material decomposes in a landfill without oxygen, it creates methane gas, which is harmful when it enters the air. Methane is a greenhouse gas 21x more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.
When you compost, you’re converting waste into compost rather than letting it decompose in a landfill. Organic matter includes anything once alive, such as leaves, fruit rinds, vegetable scraps, paper towels, and coffee grounds — they are all fair game for a compost bin.
Composting Also Minimizes Waste
When you compost, you turn organic waste into compost that you can use on a vegetable garden, flower bed, or lawn, minimizing waste overall. This will help soil retain water and provide nutrients. It will also reduce the need for chemical fertilizers that may wind up in waterways and drinking water.
Getting Started Composting
Composting does not require special equipment. There are three basic types of compost bins: open bins, closed bins, and tumblers.
Open bins are the easiest to make and maintain. You can use a wooden frame or chicken wire to hold the compost in place while it breaks down. Simply pile the compost in and let nature take its course. The process of open bin composting takes anywhere from 8 weeks to a year, depending on how frequently you turn the compost over.
In general, closed bins are better at maintaining an optimal temperature for decomposition and keeping out rain to stop the pile from becoming waterlogged. Closed bins also exclude animals and flies that may be attracted to the pile. A closed bin helps maintain adequate heat for faster composting and less odor.
Tumblers are another option if you want quick results or do not have enough space for an open bin or closed bin. One of the biggest problems with open-bin composting is keeping critters out of your bin. While it’s fine to have worms as they help break down waste, many people don’t want to deal with mice or other rodents getting in and making a mess of their compost pile.
Even bigger animals like raccoons can get into open-air bins and make a mess of things. Tumbler bins solve this problem by being completely sealed off. There’s no way to get into these bins unless you open it up yourself. This keeps your compost safe from critters and helps keep odors down, which is another benefit you don’t get from open-air compost piles. Tumbler bins are also easy to move to different locations. If you’re just getting started, this may be your best option.
If you’re not composting, now is the time to start. Composting is nature’s way of recycling. It’s easy and efficient, and it benefits your garden and the environment.
Ready to get started?