By Wayne Allen

There is an alternative --- composting. It is a great idea whose time has come. Now more than ever it makes sense to compost all of your family's food waste, plus paper and any other organic carbon-based waste you can. By composting your household food waste, you are not only reducing strain on already overtaxed landfills, but you are also providing yourself with a source of rich fertilizer for your garden. With your own compost on-site, you no longer have to go to the store to get fertilizer.

If you're not a gardener, you should still make your own compost --- you can give it away to acquaintances who are gardeners or you can sell it. You can practice random acts of kindness by spreading it on select neighborhood parkways or secluded park corners.

Making quality compost is not complicated. You just need a place to put your compostable materials be it a separate corner of your yard that you designate as your compost heap, or one of the many commercially available compost bins. Compost heaps must be turned and aerated every couple of weeks, and you should follow manufacturer directions for working with a compost bin.

Be forewarned, different compost bins can handle different materials, and most composting systems cannot handle meat, bone or excrement. There are two big problems with composting meat 1) It takes longer to break down than most vegetable matter and 2) Meat attracts scavengers like raccoons an opossum that can spread your compost all over the neighborhood. Compost tumblers address both these issues by making it easy to frequently aerate your compost and by being more secure against roaming critters.

Another alternative for meat and other food waste, the "Green Cone" system, is secure and includes packet of composting enzyme that speeds up the composting process. The Green Cone does not, however, produce compost to be redistributed elsewhere. Instead, it breaks down the contents and lets the nutrients seep into the surrounding earth for a radius of about 15 feet. Ideal placement for a Green Cone would probably be the middle of a vegetable garden. The Green Cone is also capable of handling small amounts of animal excrement.

If you are interested recycling more significant amounts of manure, I would suggest you look up the "Humanure Handbook". It's about composting human excrement to reduce stress on sewage treatment plants and the special challenges associated with the process. Pet waste will usually go to a landfill, so following the principles in the handbook to handle pet waste would relieve even more stress on landfills.

Composting excrement is not for everyone, but it is worth considering.

How does composting help save the world? Remember that the less rubbish needs to be taken away in garbage trucks, the less gasoline they use and the less material is sent to the landfill. This is all good.

What can you compost? Vegetable and fruit peels, apple cores, small rodent and rabbit bedding, tea bags, coffee grounds, shredded paper newspaper and cardboard, and egg shells all work. To make good compost, you generally need a mix of 3:1 paper/cardboard to vegetable waste.

Many localities now sell compost bins and some will even subsidize the cost for homeowners --- people need only ask at their local township or village offices.

If your municipality does not offer compost bins, there are many how-to sites on the Internet with details on how to build your own compost bin. All you typically need is some wood, chicken wire, and a four by four foot carpet remnant to cover your compost pile and retain heat.

If building your own compost bin is too much work, you can buy one, whether standalone or tumbler, from your local home and garden shop or on the Internet.

About the Author:

blog comments powered by Disqus