Apr 11, 2011

Resolution: Compost

Every year millions of people make New Year resolutions like losing weight. My New Year resolutions for 2011 were all about eco-friendly living. They can be listed as: using less paper products and plastic water bottles, reducing the use of gas by driving less, and (the most important one) learning how to compost.

Composting is one of the most eco-friendly things you can do for household kitchen waste. Up to 50-70% of kitchen waste can be turned into valuable, organic fertilizer. It reduces the amount of methane emitted from landfills and can be used in your garden as a cost efficient, organic way to increase soil fertility. Nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus will be produced naturally by the feeding of microorganisms, for that reason very few soil additives will be needed in your garden. Also, composting brings down the over-all footprint of your home as it contributes towards waste saving.
This is the cheapest and easiest way to compost.
Options, you have so many composting options...  In the old days, they used to dig a pit in the ground or build a compost box for the kitchen waste out of wood in the backyard. The only problem was that it was a little messy. Nowadays, companies like Nature Mill sell home composting bins which are quite expensive, but really convenient. In addition, there are websites that offer composting services with worms. You should know that if you want to try and have your own home composting bin, like I do for a fraction of the cost, it is a very simple process. 
All you need is a plastic container with a lid, like the ones they sell at supermarkets and home improvement stores. Then you need to drill a few holes on the side for ventilation; you are ready to start composting. You can put vegetable and fruit peels, egg shells, flowers, leaves, coffee grounds, corn cubs, and spinach stems in your pile of compost. You should know that composting organisms need 4 equally important things to work effectively:
  • Carbon (or carbs) for energy - the oxidation of carbon produces the heat. High carbon materials tend to be brown and dry.
  • Nitrogen (or protein) to grow and reproduce more organisms to oxidize the carbon. High nitrogen materials tend to be green and wet.
  • Oxygen to oxidize the carbon for the decomposition process.
  • Water- in the right amounts to maintain activity.
Furthermore you need to stir it every day to ensure aeration; the pile should not be too wet or too dry - it should have the moisture content of a sponge. Even more important, avoid putting in rotten or cooked leftover food especially it if contains spices, meat, fat, grease, and oil. A compost pile uses aerobic respiration and apart from attracting fruit flies, which are a normal part of the process, it does not attract house flies, worms, cockroaches, or rats. These will appear only if you add meat to the pile. 

Now that we all know how easy it is to build the perfect composting bin, we can start our own compost pile following these simple rules. This will be another way for all of us to reduce our carbon footprint, and create less waste for the land. I will keep you posted with photos on my progress.