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Composting

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A hand in Household compostable waste

Composting is the decomposition of plant remains and organic waste to make an earthy, dark, crumbly substance that is excellent for adding to houseplants or for enriching garden soil.

 

Why compost?

  • Because landfill sites are overflowing!
  • Because decomposition of organic waste without air at the landfill site produces greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, which are explosive.
  • Because decomposition of organic waste at the landfill site may pollute groundwater as well as surface water.
  • Because composting enriches the quality of garden soil and transforms kitchen and yard wastes into a rich fertilizer, free of chemical products, which costs nothing to produce.

Composting is the way to recycle your kitchen and yard wastes and to reduce the volume of garbage sent to landfills for disposal. In fact, composting can easily divert between one-third and one-half of your kitchen and yard wastes from the landfill sites.

 

What to compost?

A great variety of things can be composted, such as:

  • Fruit and vegetable peels/rinds,
  • Eggshells,
  • Tea bags,
  • Coffee grounds and filters,
  • Bread and pasta products (with nothing on them such as oil or sauce,
  • Peanut shells,
  • Plant and flower residues,
  • Green leaves,
  • Grass/lawn clippings,
  • Cobs and leaves of corn.  (However, corn cobs take a whole season to decompose completely.)

These materials, referred to as "greens", should be mixed with an equivalent quantity of "browns", such as wood chips (except if they come from chemically-treated wood), sawdust (in small quantities), hay, twigs, dead/dry leaves or dry grass clippings. Many types of weeds and old garden plants can also be composted; however, avoid weeds that have begun to seed. Organic matters which can also be composted without risk include lint from the clothes dryer filter, string, rope, hair (non-treated) and paper towels (as long as they do not have oil or sauce on them). "Clumps" or scraps should be broken up to speed up the decomposing process.

 

What not to compost:

Avoid composting meat scraps, fatty food wastes, milk products, bones and food scraps which contain oil or sauce, as they attract unwanted vermin.

Inorganic products such as plastic, metal, rubber, glass, stone/brick, chemical products and greases do not decompose.

 

How to compost?

There are various methods of composting. In most cases, people use a compost bin which has no bottom, placed directly on the ground. It can be installed in the sun or in the shade. However, to accelerate the composting process and prevent the compost from becoming too wet, it is recommended that the bin be installed in the sun.

In the bottom of the composting bin, place a 3 to 4 inch layer of twigs or small branches. This will allow the air to circulate and will prevent odours.

  • Place kitchen or yard wastes ("greens") on the twigs and cover them with a layer of "browns".
  • Spread some earth on the pile. Earth adds microorganisms to the compost, which speeds up the decomposition and also helps to prevent attracting insects and animals.
  • Each time greens are added to the pile, a layer of browns should also be added.
  • It is recommended that the pile be mixed or "turned" every time wastes are added to it, in order to get air into it and prevent odours.