Composting food and yard waste can reduce the amount of garbage going into the landfill by 40 percent.
It’s Week 4 of July’s 12 Months of Wellness series. This week we’re continuing to develop eco-conscious habits by learning how to compost food and yard waste.
According to Statistics Canada, 61 percent of Canadians participated in some type of composting activity in 2011. That’s more than double the number of us who composted in 1994, so we’re definitely moving in the right direction.
Many municipalities have adopted curbside collection systems for kitchen and yard waste. But if your municipality hasn’t developed such a program, don’t let that stop you. Let your elected officials know you want them to adopt one! And in the meantime, use a backyard composter.
According to the David Suzuki Foundation, 40 percent of our garbage is made up of organic waste. That’s 40 percent of your garbage that you can keep out of the landfill.
How to compost food waste
Composting kitchen scraps is easier than ever. You can find portable, lidded containers designed specifically to hold food waste or recycle an ice cream bucket to hold food scraps in your kitchen before putting them in your compost bin or backyard composter.
Kitchen food waste is typically high in nitrogen, which helps to heat up your compost pile (if you use a backyard compost container), and speeds up composting. Cut your scraps up into smaller pieces for quicker decomposition.
What can I compost?
Food scraps you can compost include
- fruit and vegetable peels, cores, and pulp
- crushed egg shells
- coffee grounds, tea bags, and paper filters
- unbleached paper towels or napkins, as long as they’re not greasy
What yard waste can I compost?
If you’re using a backyard composter, add your food waste to your yard waste. Yard waste that can be recycled includes
- cut grass
- dry leaves
- plant stalks, cuttings, and prunings
How to compost yard waste
While throwing a bunch of food and yard waste together in a composter sounds simple, there are a few tips you should keep in mind if you want these scraps to break down into a nutrient-rich treat for your garden.
- If you add a layer of food waste (greens), top it with a layer of browns (yard waste). Paper towels and napkins count as browns.) Composting requires a balance of green and brown waste.
- Aerate regularly. Mixing up compost materials allows oxygen to permeate all the waste for better decomposition.
- Keep composting materials not too wet but not too dry. You don’t want a soggy, stinky mess, but if your compost pile isn’t damp enough, the composting process will slow down
Check out these composting tips, including more dos and don’ts. And get composting!
On Wednesday, we’ll let you know what the alive staff is doing to reduce waste by composting.