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plantWe live in a world where throwing food away is done without much thought.

But as our landfills become overloaded and our water supply becomes more and more threatened by toxic waste, finding ways to “recycle, reduce, and reuse” isn’t just a good idea – it’s a necessary one.

Composting isn’t just a way to be more ecologically responsible. It’s also a way to become more conscious of what and how much we eat, as well as what we might be wasting.

If you’ve ever wanted to try food composting but don’t know where to start, there’s no time like the present. Read on for some basic tips and information: 

What is Composting?

In a nutshell, “compost” is what’s left when organic material, like food, is broken down and decomposed.

How Does it Work?

Bacteria like microorganisms or worms, depending on what type of composting you’re doing, help to decompose leftover food scraps by turning them into heat, carbon dioxide, water, and compost.

Why Should I Compost?

  • According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food leftovers are the biggest source of waste in the United States
  • The average American household throws away about 2 pounds or more of organic waste every day
  • Waste transportation is extremely expensive and causes pollution
  • The decomposition of food in landfills produces methane, a toxic gas that is damaging to the environment
  • Compost can be put back into gardening soil to improve the soil’s texture, help root growth, and add vital nutrients to plants. Using compost can also reduce the need for costly supplies like topsoil, fertilizers, and pesticides.

What Do I Need?

Composting can be done either indoors or outdoors – the technique will vary depending on where you’re doing the composting.

Vermicomposting, which refers to composting with worms, can be done indoors with just a small area. With the use of a worm bin, you can fill the bin with food scraps and keep this type of system stored in a kitchen, basement or garage – as long as the temperature stays between about 55 and 80 degrees F.

Outdoor composting bins can be made, but you can also purchase them relatively cheap at your local hardware store or online (like this one).

If you make your own, you can use things like concrete blocks, wooden pallets, or wire fencing. Just make sure your outdoor compost bin has a cover to prevent too much moisture, as well as a screen underneath to prevent pests from getting in.

Using Compost

You can use compost for lawns, gardens, trees, or houseplants – just make sure it’s mature before you use it. To test compost readiness, put a handful of the compost in a sealable bag for one week. If, after that, it smells sour (like ammonia), it’s not ready yet. Compost that’s “done” should smell more earthy and rich.

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