At HomeRev, we believe in using and selling eco-friendly products that are good for the home and good for the environment. We also believe in the natural biology of the world. There is so much good you can do for the environment with just a few small changes.
Did you know that nearly 40% of residential waste is compostable materials? Another 42% is recyclable, and the remaining 18% is trash. Imagine if everyone composted and recycled 82% of their waste!
Let’s take a dive into what you need to know about composting in order to create an eco-healthy life today.
Compost is a collection of decomposed natural materials. These goods decay together to create a soil rich in nutrients.
Composting is the act of using the natural order of growth, consumption, and decomposition to recycle organic material and feed it back into the earth.
Compost is good for the earth, good for your plants, and good for your budget.
Compost reduces the amount of waste going to landfills. This means less goes in the truck, so less fuel is needed to transport goods. This also means less goes into the landfill incinerator, which in turn reduces the emissions of greenhouse gasses.
This also means that less waste is sitting in landfills, which extends the longevity of these plots of land. Furthermore, when organic materials begin to break down amongst non-organic materials in landfills, methane gas is released. Methane gas is 21 times more harmful to the planet than carbon dioxide!
Compost is the best fertilizer for home gardens, as it is filled with nutrients and microorganisms that improve growth and health of plants. Compost has proven to give off better yields with healthier plants than their chemical fertilizer counterparts. Environmental research has shown that compost soil better protects vegetables from common plant diseases than other types of fertilizers. Compost also enhances flavor and nutrition levels of fruits and vegetables.
Compost also increases soil stability, improves drainage, and regulates moisture levels. This is especially important if you live in a very humid or dry environment, where your plants may die quickly from heat or hydration exhaustion.
Compost is free! You’ll save money on chemical fertilizers by re-using what you would otherwise throw out. Additionally, chemical fertilizers are usually washed away by rain and storms, harming bodies of water and the animals in them; plus, then all of the nutrients leave your garden. Compost nutrients are not washed away by rainfall, so you have less waste and less harm to the environment.
Ultimately, compost is the best way to actively help the natural cycle of growth and decay that our world has thrived on for thousands of years.
So how do you go about introducing composting into your life?
If you’re new to composting, you may see it as an inconvenience. However, individuals who compost say that it’s equally as easy to compost as it is to trash those goods. In fact, composting can even save you from a backache trying to carry heavy loads of trash up the driveway!
There are two types of composting: cold and hot. Cold composting is for the beginner who is looking for a better way to get rid of their organic food scraps. It takes longer for the items to decay, but it also requires less work. Hot composting is for the serious gardener who wants fresh soil in 1-3 months. It requires significant TLC and a strong knowledge of the science of composting.
Below we will go through the basics of composting, which are relevant to both cold and hot, to get the quickest and most efficient yield for any home.
Your compost bin should be able to minimize smells, deter animals, and regulate moisture and temperature as much as possible. We recommend using an odor and moisture-grabber, like our HomeRev Odor Bag, to absorb the smelly, bad bacteria and keep your compost fresh.
Use compost container approximately 1 yard by 1 yard in size, but this can vary based on the number of occupants in your household and the space you have in your yard for the compost container.
If you make it yourself, wood or masonry blocks are the best materials to keep your compost regulated. One of our favorite DIY tricks is to make a compost container out of a garbage can. Drill small to medium sized holes on all sides of the can about three inches apart. This will let oxygen into the bin, which allows for decomposition while keeping animals out. It’s so easy to make and use!
If you are going to purchase a compost bin, we recommend a tumbler. These are usually raised off the ground, away from animals and pests, and they’re maneuverable so you can easily mix up your compost weekly.
P.S. You should also have a mini-compost bin inside your house. This is a place you and your family can easily throw compost scraps during cleanup. This compost bin can then be periodically emptied into the real compost bin outside for decomposition.
Although it’s not necessary, starter compost or soil is useful to individuals just starting out in the compost world. This will introduce already-composting bacteria into your pile, which gets your compost properly balanced and decomposing quickly.
Generally, you want a balance of nitrogen and carbon in order to compost quickly and efficiently. This means a mixture of “green goods,” which release nitrogen during decay, and “brown goods,” which release carbon. Below you’ll find a list of what to compost and how to keep green and brown balanced.
Similar to keeping your houseplants alive, you have to treat compost like an organism. The soil should be damp in order to keep the nutrients active. If you live in a moist climate, this is usually not an issue; but if you live in a dry climate, you may need to “water” your compost pile. You can either pour small amounts of water into the bin, or you can add in more fruits and vegetables, which release water as they decay.
In a similar fashion, you should monitor your compost’s temperature. During decomposition, organic materials generally let off heat and gasses—so a healthy compost pile will feel warm to the touch. Thus, if your compost feels the same temperature as the surrounding air, it is likely not decaying properly. A cool temperature lets you know you should add in more nitrogen-heavy items.
Air and oxygen are crucial to the decomposition process. If you don’t expose your compost to the air, it will get greasy and smelly. In this way, you want holes that allow air to get into the bin (but not large enough that animals can get in). Weekly, you should turn your compost pile using a shovel or pitchfork. This ensures thorough mixing, breaks up any clumps and redistributes airflow.
Additionally, rotating your compost ensures that it decomposes faster. You want green goods and brown goods next to each other because the mixture of carbon and nitrogen help decompose the goods. The more you mix, the faster the materials will turn to soil.
Once the majority of materials in the pile have broken down, you can use the compost in your garden! Use a mesh screen to filter out newer, un-decayed clumps from the fresh compost soil.
You should put your compost down 2-3 weeks before planting. This creates a solid foundation for the plants. It also ensures that any additional releases of gasses during the final stage of decomposition won’t harm the plants.
Green goods are nitrogen-releasing materials. This includes:
Brown goods release carbon. These include:
You need to properly balance brown and green for a quick decomposition compost pile. You can also add in additional goods in moderation like paper towels, paper bags, cotton clothing (cut up), and hair.
Due to hygiene and their inability to break down, you should never compost meat scraps, bones, fish, plastic, feces, diseased plants, diapers, magazines or glossy paper, cat litter, cooked food, bread and pasta, weeds that seed, and dairy products.
Composting is good for your home, your garden, and the environment. Making it a part of your household routine could mean saving the planet’s short-term and long-term health!
At HomeRev, we are committed to natural and eco-friendly products. We are here to keep our clients and the earth safe, happy, and healthy. Learn more about our story here.