With our modern lifestyles and consumption habits, we end up producing so much waste, most of which is destined for landfill sites. However, it is now becoming increasingly apparent that these kinds of habits are unsustainable and unless we change, we will end up doing irrevocable damage to our planet.
The good news is, there is a much more ecological option, and one that most experienced gardeners already will be aware of – composting. Almost all of our organic waste can be composted, and this leads to many benefits. By composting, you help protect the environment by keeping your waste out of landfill while at the same time providing yourself with a steady stream of potent – and free – fertilizer for your land.
With all this in mind, the only question that remains is why wouldn’t you want to compost?
Different types of composting
There are several different types of composting, but all will give you the same result – namely, free and powerful fertilizer to spread on your garden. However, which one you choose can depend on your situation. If you live in a suburban or rural area, you may have a yard where you can keep a traditional compost pile outside.
On the other hand, urban dwellers might need to look for other solutions – although possibilities certainly exist for those who don’t have any available outdoor space. In this case, you might prefer to choose an indoor compost bin or a worm composter instead.
If you are planning a new kitchen, you may incorporate an indoor composter into the design right from the beginning. Reputable companies can give you the best advice on how to incorporate composters into your kitchen when creating your customized kitchen plan.
Composting – the basics
Many items can be composted, including many you might not immediately think of. A healthy compost pile requires two basic elements, “green” matter and “brown” matter. Green matter is anything that comes from plants, for example, vegetable scraps, potato peels etc. while brown matter is made up of other organic materials such as paper, card, wood chips and so on.
A basic compost pile should be made up of about 50% of each, although for more specialist compost recipes, this may be varied.
Things from the kitchen that can be composted
Here is a list of items from the kitchen that may be composted. Although it is not supposed to be exhaustive, it covers most of the items of kitchen waste found in the average household.
- Tea leaves
- Coffee grounds
- Coffee filters (if 100% natural)
- Eggs shells, crushed (these are alkaline and help counteract anything acidic you add)
- Fish bones – crushed, but be sure there is no flesh left on or it will smell bad
- Seaweed, kelp and nori
- Cooked pasta – make sure you bury it deep in the pile or it will attract scavengers
- Cooked rice – bury it in the pile, the same as pasta (uncooked rice may attract rats)
- Inedible leaves and stalks from fruit or vegetables – ideal material for composting
- Nuts and nut shells (not walnuts or their shells – they are toxic to other plants)
- Avocado pits (chopped to speed up the process)
- Olive pits
- Onions and garlic – but used in moderation and don’t put into worm composters at all
- Vegetables – vegetable leftovers will make up a large part of your pile
- Juice from canned products
- Shellfish shells (including crab, shrimp, lobster etc. – but bury them to avoid odors)
- Stale grains
- Fruit and vegetable peels
- Stale cereal
- Potato peels – another classic ingredient to add to your compost pile
- Old seeds (pumpkin, sunflower etc. – chopped to prevent them sprouting)
- Old oatmeal
- Stale energy bars, cereal bars etc.
- Stale bread (buried to avoid attracting scavengers)
- Burnt toast (again, buried)
- Stale pita (buried)
- Stale tortillas (buried)
- Citrus peel – in moderation but not in worm composters
- Stale tortilla chips, stale potato chips
- Old or moldy pasta sauce or similar
- Stale crackers
- Teabags and coffee bags (only if 100% natural – no synthetics)
- Stale cookies
- Stale pretzels
- Stale candy (chopped or crushed to speed up the process)
- Popcorn – popped, unpopped or burnt, all are ok
- Corn cobs (will take some time to compost, so chop them up to accelerate the process)
- Crumbs (from tables, the bottom of food packets or any that fall on the floor)
- Old cheese (not too much – buried to so you don’t attract scavengers)
- Yogurt (not too much – buried)
- Soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk
- Old jam or preserves
- Stale beer
- Stale wine
- Old herbs and spices
- Pizza crusts
- Paper towels
- Paper towel rolls (chopped up to speed up decomposition)
- Paper table cloths (torn up to speed things up)
- Paper plates (but not ones with waxy or plastic covering)
- Paper bags (torn up)
- Cupcake or muffin cups (not if waxed)
- Cardboard egg cartons (chopped up)
- Pizza boxes, chopped up (not if waxed)
- Other cardboard boxes (but not if waxed or printed with colored ink)
- Wood or bamboo skewers
- Wine corks (chopped)
- Fruit – most fruit is fine but go easy on citrus, see below for more details
A couple of things to avoid
There are also a few things you should avoid composting. Don’t be tempted to add meat or fish – while they will technically break down like anything else, they can create a very unpleasant odor as they rot and are also a magnet for scavengers and pests.
Go easy on citrus peel. You can add a few scraps from time to time but not too much. Otherwise, your pile will become too acidic for microorganisms and worms to live in, and the composting process will cease to function. The same goes for garlic and onions.
If you have a worm composter, you should avoid citrus, garlic and onions entirely since your worms will hate it and may even die.
An ecological and beneficial solution to household waste
If you care at all about the environment and helping to save our planet, composting is an idea that should appeal to you. As we mentioned before, it is not only a much greener way to dispose of household waste but is also a great way to provide a constant source of powerful fertilizer, which in turn will help everything in your garden grow and thrive.
Author Bio: Peter Weeks is a gardening buff. To him, gardening is life, not just a job. It’s something that he truly loves doing. It’s a way of life, a passion that he has no intention of ever giving up.
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