Let's Talk Trash: Your Complete Guide to Composting At Home
Did you know the average person in the U.S. throws away 4.9 lbs of trash every single day? When we throw something away, it begins its journey to a landfill — and once it gets there, it piles up. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, municipal solid waste landfills are the third-largest source of methane emissions created by human activity in the U.S. That’s a whole lot of pollution that we can help prevent!
While recycling plays a big role in minimizing our footprint, it’s not a cure-all solution. Many items are either recycled improperly or aren't recycled at all, leading to — you guessed it — more waste. The good news is: There’s something we can do about it. Composting has been gaining traction in recent years (and for good reason). It works in tandem with recycling to reduce waste and protect the planet for generations to come.
What Is Composting?
Composting is the reuse of organic matter (think: food scraps, plants, and paper) to create nutrient-rich fertilizer. When organic waste is separated from other trash that doesn’t break down as easily (like plastics), it decomposes more quickly, providing a number of benefits for the environment.
What Are the Benefits of Composting?
- Reduces waste by diverting organic materials away from landfills and back into the soil.
- Decreases methane emissions from landfills.
- Saves water by increasing soil’s water retention properties.
- Enhances soil without synthetic fertilizers or harsh chemicals.
Who Can Compost?
So you’re ready to compost, but you’re not sure where to begin. The good news is that anyone can compost — and there are multiple options to choose from.
First, you can elect to compost in your backyard. This is a great option if you have a garden or greenery that could use the fertilizer. All you need is an outdoor compost pile where your household puts organic waste. Note that it can take anywhere from a month to over a year for this waste to turn into compost. You’ll know when the compost is ready to use once it’s dark brown with an earthy scent and a consistent texture throughout.
Pro Tip: If you’d like to speed up the decomposition process of your compost, be sure to crush or chop your organic waste before adding it to your pile. You may also want to consider a backyard compost bin, which can help accelerate the process by providing an ideal environment for bacteria to work its magic.
If you don’t have a backyard (or you’re not ready to create your own compost pile), you can compost through local organizations. For a nominal fee, these companies will provide you with a compost bin and pick it up on a regular schedule.
Pro Tip: Look into your city’s compost offerings before choosing a company. Sometimes all you need to do is request a bin from your town and you can compost for free. Many cities also have deals with compost organizations that allow residents to sign up at a discounted rate.
If you choose this method, you can keep your compost bin wherever it’s most convenient for you. Dark, dry places (like under the sink) tend to work best, but some prefer to keep it handy on the countertop while cooking. You can even keep your bin outside, as long as it’s weather-proof with a tight-fitting lid. Backyard composters often keep a bin within reach as well — emptying it into their larger pile every few days.
Pro Tip: While indoor compost bins are designed with a tight seal to prevent odor and pests, you can always put scraps in the freezer as an extra precaution.
What Can I Compost?
So you’ve got your bin (or your pile) and you’re ready to go! Now all you need to do is get familiar with what you can and cannot compost. We recommend printing out a guide and hanging it up in your kitchen to remind your household of what goes where.
In general, you can compost waste such as:
- Yard clippings
You should avoid waste like:
- Plants that have been treated with pesticides
For a detailed list of what can and can’t be composted, take a look at the EPA’s guide to composting at home.
You can grow your impact even further by switching to compostable household items. From compostable trash bags to tableware, there are plenty of options that allow you to reduce your waste and do some good for the planet. You can feel confident knowing that all of EcoSoul’s products are fully compostable to help build a cleaner future.
A Turning Point
While the world’s waste problem won’t be solved overnight, you can make a true difference with small shifts in your daily routine. Simple acts like recycling, composting, and just being more aware of purchasing decisions can help create real change over time.