Composting: Give Back to Mother Earth

The state of our environment has gotten so bad, that if you’re paying attention and have a bone of compassion in your body, it’s more than a little disturbing. A lump of trash is floating in the water near the North Pole twice the size of France; it’s about 33 feet deep. Landfills around the world are overloaded. “First world” trash is shipped to “third world” countries and people living near the dump sites are getting sick. Even our healthy foods have become nutrient deplete because of improperly cared for soils, and all while literally millions of pounds of pesticides are dumped onto the land daily.

 by Kim Evans, citizen journalist

(NaturalNews) The state of our environment has gotten so bad, that if you’re paying attention and have a bone of compassion in your body, it’s more than a little disturbing. A lump of trash is floating in the water near the North Pole twice the size of France; it’s about 33 feet deep. Landfills around the world are overloaded. “First world” trash is shipped to “third world” countries and people living near the dump sites are getting sick. Even our healthy foods have become nutrient deplete because of improperly cared for soils, and all while literally millions of pounds of pesticides are dumped onto the land daily.

In light of the obvious problems, and the reluctance for real change from a top down approach, a lot of people have started wondering what they, individually, can do about these problems that seem larger than any one of us. Fortunately, there are a couple of solutions that, in their own ways, address many of the problems above.

One of those answers is composting, or turning your kitchen and yard waste into nutrient-rich soil. Composting is a fun project, and it’s one of the most environmentally friendly things you can do.

Composting works on environmental problems on a number of levels.

The truth is: if you eat a fresh fruit and vegetable oriented diet, recycle all you can, and compost all you can, there really isn’t much left to send to the landfill. If you’re already recycling, and simply start composting, many families can reduce the amount of trash leaving the house by half or more.

By composting instead of sending the waste to the landfill, you’re actively reducing the amounts of greenhouse gasses created in the landfill, and the compost itself pulls the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide out of the air.

It’s estimated that a fifth acre garden with compost tilled into the top 8 inches of soil can remove 19,000 pounds of carbon from the atmosphere. That offsets about one and a half years of an average American’s carbon emissions.

When your compost has finished, you can use it to fertilize your yard – and end the use of store bought or chemical fertilizers. This makes your yard (and the air around your home) safer for you and your family, while feeding optimal nutrition to the Earth and creating an optimal growing environment. It’s said that well composted soil helps with every growing problem, including pests and drainage.

Once your soil has been brought to life with your nutrient-dense compost, you might be encouraged to plant a few fruit trees, vegetables, or herb bushes to regularly provide fresh pesticide-free foods for your family in a sustainable manner.

While composting isn’t the whole answer, it’s a great start in the right direction. Another big improvement is to simply avoid plastics whenever possible. Plastics, particularly plastic bags, aren’t easily recyclable. In fact, each grocery store plastic bag costs only 1 cent to make, but far more to recycle. That’s why so many of them are floating up near the North Pole.

How to Compost

For the uninitiated, composting might seem overwhelming, but once you know the basics, it’s simple. Here’s a quick run down on the basics of composting.

One of the most important things is that you need about 1/3 greens to 2/3 browns for it to be successful. But, what does this mean? Generally speaking, greens are from your kitchen and anything green from your yard. Brown is anything brown from your yard (including dried grass and leaves), and can also include cardboard, paper towels, and newspaper. Waste from a cat or dog should not be added to the pile.

If you don’t have enough browns your nitrogen balance will be off and you’ll know this because your compost will start to smell, which is undesirable. The green brown ratio doesn’t need to be exact, but keep in mind that you’ll need more browns than greens. And if it starts to smell, just add more browns, mix it up, and it should become fine.

All fruit and vegetable waste is fair game for composting, but don’t use processed foods, dairy, egg, or meat remains; they’ll rot (in a bad way) or attract animals. Egg shells are fine. They add calcium, but if you use them, rinse and crush them; they take a while to decompose. If you want to speed your results, cut up your kitchen remains before adding them to your compost pile.

You’ll need an area of your yard for composting or a compost bin. You can buy a professional bin, or make one with a container you already have. Either way, the size should be in line with the amount you’ll be composting. It should be kept in a warm place that ideally is a little away from your house.

Once your bin or composting area is all set up, just toss everything in and mix it up. Then toss in some dirt to give it the microbes needed to start the decomposition process. Then add a layer of browns to the top, which will trap the heat inside and discourage pests.

Your compost should be a little damp, but not soaked which can lead to fungal growth. Your compost should also have access to air, as opposed to being sealed. You can and should “turn” or stir your compost somewhat regularly, at least every week or two. Turning your compost will give it air and speed the process along. After turning it or adding more greens, add a light layer of browns to the top.

The length of time it’ll take to decompose depends on a couple of factors, including the temperature of the compost, the size of the pieces, how often you turn it, the size of the compost, and more. Depending on these factors, it can take anywhere from a month to several months to completely decompose.

Some people keep two bins going simultaneously. One can be added to on a continual basis while the other is left to compost without new materials being added. When the fully composted material is finished and used, a new batch is started, and the pile that was previously the “add to” pile becomes the pile that just sits to compost.

Keep in mind, there are many different approaches to composting out there. The above is the down and dirty for the beginning composter, and should be enough to get you started.

More:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/5208645/Drowning-in-plastic-The-Great-Pacific-Garbage-Patch-is-twice-the-size-of-France.html
http://www.epa.gov/oppbead1/pestsales/01pestsales/historical_data2001_3.htm
http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic-Gardening/2006-10-01/Compost-Made-Easy.aspx
http://www.foodshare.net/garden13.htm

Reposted from NaturalNews.

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