These days, we are bombarded more and more frequently with information about our changing environmental climate. While some of these changes may be due to natural fluctuations, many scientists agree that others are a direct result of human activity. Luckily, there are a number of ways that individuals around the world can decrease their “environmental footprint”—composing being among the most effective. By composting unwanted waste materials, individuals can not only protect the environment, but may also be able to conserve valuable resources that may otherwise be lost. Individuals who are interested in starting their own compost project should first understand the concept, determine what they will need to start composting, and further identify how it can be an effective way to help the environment.
What Is Composting?
Composting is the process by which organic matter—such as egg shells, paper, leaves, fruit, vegetables, coffee, tea, and other similar products—are broken down, recycled, and used as a form of natural fertilizer . Like other, man-made forms of fertilizer, compost is designed to be effective at supplying the nutrients needed by growing vegetables, flowers, and other products. In some cases, the use of compost piles has been found to be useful in the control and management of certain garden pests. While compost can be used on its own, expert gardeners agree that it is most effective when used in combination with other natural products, such as sand, bark chips, vermiculite, perlite, or clay.
What do I Need to Start Composting?
Despite popular belief, requirements for starting a compost pile are usually quite basic. At a minimum, individuals who wish to start their own compost pile must possess or have access to the organic matter described above, along with a patch of earth in which to nurture the compost. Individuals who are experienced at composting or who wish to expand their compost pile may want to consider the purchase of a wooden or plastic compost bin, tumbler, or barrel. While these items are not required for the effective composting, they can be beneficial for individuals who are interested in advanced techniques. Individuals who are new to the composting process may also want to consider purchasing or renting books, magazines, and videos from the local bookstore or library. These items can provide valuable information when it comes to managing a successful compost pile.
How Can Composting Help the Environment?
As mentioned previously, a compost pile can be quite beneficial for the environment. Specifically, compost piles have been found to be effective at preventing soil erosion, and can aid in stream and land reclamation, the reconstruction of wetlands, and may even serve as a landfill cover. In addition, some compost piles made with specific types of organic material may be used to create biogas, a specialized type of gas that can be used effectively as a biofuel. The creation of these biofuels is especially important as traditional fuel prices continue to rise to higher and higher levels each year.
Obviously, the creation of a compost pile can provide users with a number of effective, important benefits. Compost owners can not only expect significant improvements in the quality and quantity of plants grown with the use of compost, but may also be able to significantly improve local ecosystems. Individuals who wish to learn more about composting should consult with local or state organizations. These groups can often be contacted by phone or email with relative ease.
- Wastes: Resource Conservation: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Composting—Tips and facts regarding proper composting.
- Home Composting—Instructions for the creation and use of home compost materials.
- US Composting Council—Research, recent news, advocacy, and support for the home composter.
- Composting at Home—Questions and answers about safe and effective composting.
- Cornell Waste Management Institute: Composting—Describes the health, safety, production, and use of large and small-scale composting materials.
- Composting Yard Waste—Recommends the products to use when creating a backyard compost pile, and provides instructions regarding construction.
- What is Composting?—Provides a description of the different types of composting.
- Composting: A Guide to Managing Organic Yard Waste—Tips, suggestions, facts, and recommendations for running a successful compost pile.
- Our City’s Programs: Composting—Describes the benefits of composting.
- The Composting Process—Answers to many of the common questions regarding composting.
- Composting with Red Wiggler Worms—Recommendations regarding the use of specific types of worms when composting.
- How to Build a Compost Bin—Instructions for the creation and maintenance of a high-quality compost bin.
- Don’t Bag It: Compost It!—Education related to the benefits and uses of composting.
- Stewardship Gardening: Composting—Tips and recommendations on the use of composting for optimal gardening results.
- EcoCycle: All About Composting—Describes the numerous benefits of composting.