Composting in the City 101
2 months ago
According to the World Wildlife Organization, one third of all foods we produce goes to waste. This equals to about 1.3 billion tons of thrown away produce, meat, dairy, and seafood.
Why is this an environmental concern?
The production of food consumes many resources even before reaching its intended destinations; this includes the energy it takes to grow, transport, and package efficiency before it reaches our tables. Afterwards, if scraps end up in the landfill, they rot and produces greenhouse gas (Methane). Methane contributes to global warming and climate change.
What foods can be composted?
Well, in some places like Seattle, WA food scraps and yard waste are not allowed in your regular garbage can, so it’s important to know what types of food are compostable. On Seattle.gov under the Seattle Public Utilities page a list is provided to tell you what can go in the Food and Yard Waste:
- Fruit and Vegetables
- Bread, Pasta, Rice, and Grains
- Eggshells and Nutshells
- Coffee Grounds, Filters, and Tea Bags (non-plastic)
- Compostable (uncoated) Paper such as Paper Napkins, Paper Towels, and Pizza Boxes
It’s important to check out your city’s guidelines for this information.
How do I start?
There are three main ways to store your food scraps before tossing them in the compost bin outside. The first way is to collect your food waste in a bag, the bag must be non-plastic and able to breakdown with the compost. Another way is storing it in the freezer using a container or bag, many people even do this with veggie scraps and make broth with it! The most common way is to use a reusable metal or ceramic container with a tight lid on it.
From there you'll need to empty the smaller container every couple of days into a compost bin. Most compost bins are containers that prevent rodents from getting into them but contain air holes that allow oxygen to circulate while the food is composting back to a rich soil. Many people often add worms and leaves to help the process along as well. Depending on the method, it will take approximately 4 weeks to a year for the food waste to compost to soil.
How do I use the compost?
Fresh compost can be used to fertilize garden beds, herb pots and raised beds.