When someone asks me how I believe we’re going to fuel the future I answer, “by composting.” Composting is the simple transformation of organic matter through decomposition into soil-like material. It’s one of the easiest activities and also one of the most important when talking about sustainable living. According to the documentary “Wasted,” “About 40 percent of food in the United States is wasted, and about 90 percent of food scraps end up in landfills leaching methane.” Also it states that, “One head of lettuce can take up to 25 years to decompose in a landfill.” It is deeply disturbing to think of how much food goes to waste that can actually be used in a beneficial way. With the help of microorganisms breaking the material down, more nourishment is added to the soil and can be used to replenish garden beds. Composting requires nothing more than a little patience and mindfulness when looking at your left over or old food as a helpful boost for something new to grow instead of it just being trash. Be careful in considering what is waste and what is not.
Carbon and nitrogen are two essential elements for creating perfect compost. Carbon is used as energy for these microorganisms, and nitrogen as a form of protein creates an ideal environment for these microorganisms, and speeding up overall decomposition reactions. Composting starts with the collection of food scraps, including green and brown matter. You can compost anything including leaves and yard scraps, newspapers, eggshells, coffee grinds and tea, as well as fruit and vegetable scraps. It’s important to keep a compost pile under the right water and temperature conditions, and to keep the pile turning regularly. These are all simple things that you can find in your kitchen, and the overall amount of food waste going to landfills can significantly decrease if more households are on board with being more efficient. With just a few kitchen scraps and some patience, you can have the happiest garden possible.
Here in our own Science Center courtyard on campus, we have multiple outdoor compost piles. Students and faculty have the opportunity to add anything they want to the compost pile. We encourage everyone to participate in help building it up with really healthy nutrients! Since these piles have been breaking down for months with continuous turning, we figured that the start of spring time would be the best to start sifting through, pulling out the most nutritious parts of the compost pile, and letting the bigger pieces continue to break down. This spring, in the gardening club, we have already started replenishing our garden beds with this fresh compost. Throughout the whole year, we collect plant matter from the greenhouse, which makes exceptional compost. We are very excited to transport plants from the greenhouse into the courtyard, and are expecting great results with this healthy new soil that we have revitalized.
It is important to educate people on the benefits and simplicity of composting overall. Like I mentioned, tons of food end up in landfills each year that could be used more beneficially in a more natural state. It has the ability to break down, instead of being mixed in with plastics, toxins and the unnatural things that we see in landfills today. With all of the inorganic materials in landfills making the overall process of microbial functions unable to behave naturally, it is no wonder why they cause such an environmental problem today.
Composting is an important thing that we can all do in our backyard. It can successfully help mitigate food waste problems around the world and help replenish gardens of all sizes.
Kait West can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org