We encourage everyone to compost, even if you’re not currently a farmer or gardener. Composting is an essential act for all groups and individuals, to help protect our collective airways, waterways, and nutrient stocks.
Did you know that up to 40% of household waste can be composted? Not to mention the organic waste generated by restaurants, schools, work places and grocery stores.
Composting this organic matter instead of sending it to a landfill or incinerator has huge benefits:
- Safeguarding and cycling nutrients: The nutrients that plants contain are irreversibly lost when incinerated or buried amongst plastic, metals and toxins. With increasing nutrient scarcity ("peak phosphorus" and "peak potassium" are approaching much like "peak oil"), we are compromising our future capability to produce our food supply by literally trashing essential nutrients. This also adds pressure to seek nutrient supplies from non-ecological sources, like mined minerals and chemical nitrogen. Composting revalues the nutrients in our waste and keeps them active in the biological cycle.
- Greenhouse gases: Organic waste decomposes anaerobically (without oxygen) in landfill sites, which leads to significant methane production, a greenhouse gas 80 times more powerful than CO2. When we compost, the organic waste breaks down aerobically (with oxygen), significantly reducing the greenhouse gases that are released.
- Water contamination: When water passes through a landfill site, it picks up water-soluble materials along the way, forming a leachate that can contaminate surface water and ground water; this problem is exacerbated by the presence of moist food waste in landfills, when mixed amongst chemicals and toxins. When we compost instead, we can cover the compost pile to keep out rain, and any leachate that does come out of our compost is a fantastic supplement for plants.
- Use of energy and space: Food waste is energy-intensive to transport, as it makes up a significant portion of our weekly trash. And when we unnecessarily dump food waste, the landfill sites fill up more quickly, leading to more landfills.
- An ideal food for plants: Compost is well-balanced for the fertility needs of plants. It is a free, ecologically-sound way of fertilizing your food supply.
Even if you’re not yet a farmer or gardener, this is still the perfect time to start composting. You can share your compost with people who garden, or spread it around the base of shrubs or trees. And the moment you do decide to become a gardener, you’ll already have the main ingredient that you need.
If you are already a farmer or gardener, try to convince others around you to start composting! Perhaps they can share their finished compost with you. Or perhaps your neighbours can provide you with their fresh food scraps and fallen leaves, and you can add them to your compost pile!