Here is an updated version of this post with a few more pieces of advice from what I’ve learned since this article first went live. I hope it helps! Would love to hear from you in the comments below.
Way back when, I used to think everything I didn’t want, need or knew what to do with, went straight into the garbage. That was then and this is now: I have a love for composting like no other. It is super impactful and surprisingly simple.
So, why all the love for composting? To put it simply, it’s a fantastic way to help reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. When garbage gets taken to landfills, the contents often sit there unable to properly break down due to lack of oxygen. When this happens it goes through a detrimental process called anaerobic decomposition that produces methane (the greenhouse gas we were talking about) and prevents nature from doing the work it needs to do!
By composting, you are actually encouraging more oxygen and less methane to be released into the atmosphere, making a significant contribution—you’ll even get some amazing all-natural plant fertilizer, too! So, whether or not you live in a tiny walk-up apartment or have a sprawling backyard, you can compost in your kitchen.
Nearly 28% of solid waste is compostable material. That means that the things we throw out on a daily basis like, organic waste like fruits, vegetables, egg shells, coffee grinds and more, can be repurposed into a nutrient-rich form of mulch that closely represents soil. It’s great for potted plants and gardens and even has the nickname “black gold” because of its richness.
Now, here is my humble crash course in kitchen composting in 1-2-3 easy steps:
- FIND THE PROPER CONTAINER
Kitchen composting isn’t smelly, dirty or gross. In fact, when done properly, it doesn’t even attract flies! All you need is an indoor aluminum compost bin to toss your scraps in since plastic tends to absorb the smell and aluminum are more durable and easy to clean. Start by placing an old piece of folded-up newspaper or paper towel at the bottom to absorb any extra moisture or water from the waste. A little bit of moisture helps it break down, but too much can just make it soupy (ew). So make sure that you lay the right foundation first before you start filling up your bin!
- FILL IT UP
This means getting used to throwing out your organic waste in your compost rather than the garbage — it’s tough, we know. You’ll want to throw out the items mentioned above including a generous amount of dry “brown stuff” like broken down egg cartons, shredded paper and used coffee filters. The ratio of dry brown items to food waste is 3:1.
This helps eliminate any possibility of odor and add carbon to the mix, an important way for the microorganisms that turn your waste into nutrient-rich mulch to get the energy needed.
Make sure you avoid meat, fish, greasy or oily substances, sauces, dairy and glossy-finished papers. These will halt the decomposition and even ruin it. So be mindful of what you’re tossing out.
- TURN YOUR SOIL
After letting your compost sit for a while, it is important to “turn” the soil as if you were tossing a salad. You can either transition the contents to a larger outdoor container that is specifically suited for composting outside, add it to a larger bin in your home if you want to keep it for your own indoor plants and herbs, or find something local like a community garden or contact your municipality’s waste management to see if they offer compost pick-up services.
If you are having trouble finding a place to discard of your compost check out these organizations or get proactive and reach out to a local farm when you’re at the farmer’s market!