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How can we simplify the composting process in a way that makes it more accessible to the greater community?

What You Need To Know

America has a waste problem. Right now, America produces about 1/3 of waste emissions worldwide. According to the EPA, municipal landfills – landfills with every day items the public throws away – produce about 81% of all CO2 emissions created by waste. That means that the majority of all waste is not coming from industry, but from you and me.

Although most of that waste is plastic and inorganic materials, roughy 28% of all waste is organic material, such as food or yard trimmings, that can be composted. If the number of people who composted increased we could reduce out waste by about a third. Right now, less than 9% of all waste is composted. If we were to compost that 28% of raw material, we could increase that 9% compost to almost 40%.

Bradford, Abi. “U.S. Garbage Handling” 2014. https://frontiergroup.org/reports/fg/trash-america

Composting is organic material waste being broken down by microorganisms in oxygen-rich conditions. When all of the organic material is broken down, this nutrient-rich humus can be used as a natural fertilizer in gardens or farms. By composting food waste and organic materials, the overall amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators will be reduced — in turn reducing emissions produced by waste. 

According to a study done in 2014 by Harris Interactive commissioned by the National Waste and Recycling Association, while only 72% of Americans compost their food waste, 67% of these non-composers says that they would be willing if it was more convenient. Now, all we need to do is figue out how to make composting more convenient. 

 

My Response: What can we do?

Vinje, E. https://www.planetnatural.com/home-composting/

The first step is making composting more accessible to people. If people are able to understand that composting is not as complicated as it may look, it will become more widespread and we will have a greater impact on reducing emissions. 

To bridge this gap, I will compile many different resources about composting into one convenient site. This site will include one page dedicated to explaining the composting process, one page providing examples of the best compost bins at different price points, one page dedicated to education, and the final page will provide ideas on what to do with the humus. 

 

Composting at Home: The Basics

Option 1 – Buying a compost bin

 

You can buy a compost bin, such as the one on the left. This method is simple and easy. Buying a compost bin is very common among composters, however, a quality compost bin can be very expensive. Which brings us to option 2.

 
Option 2 – D.I.Y Compost Bin

A D.I.Y compost bin is much cheaper than a store bought bin and just as easy to use. All you have to do is put in the work to make it.

Will need is a plastic storage bin (the darker the color, the better) and a drill. 

The first (and only step) is to drill random holes all over the storage bin. These holes will allow for oxygen and worms to come in and water to drain out, so make sure to drill hole on the top and bottom of the bin as well as on the sides.

             

 
Once you have you bin:

Set up your compost bin (D.I.Y or store bought)  in a dry, shaded area. Once it is set up, you should layer organic materials such as dirt, food scraps, yard scraps, and cardboard in the bin. Then, depending on the size of your bin, turn your compost every week with a shovel or pitchfork in order to speed-up the decomposition process. Keep this up for a few months. Once your compost turns a gorgeous deep brown color, it has decomposed, and is ready to be used as fertilizer!

 
What can you do with your compost?

Besides reducing waste in the landfill, another main benefit to composting is that compost can be used as a natural fertilizer. Once you have your compost made, you can use it to fertilize your garden or you can donate it to a local school or farm. 

If you are to use it for your garden or potted plant, make sure you add the compost to other soil. Despite popular assumption, compost is not soil and plants cannot thrive a bed of solely compost. Compost is there to provide nutrients for the plant, it does not provide stability and water retention like soil does. In order to cultivate a thriving garden, use a mixture of part soil and part compost.

If you have no use for the compost at your home, there is a very likely chance that there is a school or farm that will gladly take your compost. This is a great way to give back to your community as well as save the planet!

 

How can you help?

Down below comment or create a Flipgrid sharing your responses to any of the following questions or responses to other comments!

(1) If compost was more accessible and convenient to you, would you be willing to compost waste you would normally throw in the trash? If you are not willing to put compost at your house, would you compost if it was not yours to turn or take care of, but a communal compost bin?

(2) Ask any questions you may have about the composting process, why we should do it, the science of it!

(3) Share your stories or experiences with composting!

 

Sources

Bradford, Abi, and Frontier Group. “Trash in America: Frontier Group.” Trash in America | Frontier Group, 12 Feb. 2018, frontiergroup.org/reports/fg/trash-america.

Engels, Jonathon. “So You Made Compost – Now Here’s What to Do With It!” One Green Planet, One Green Planet, 8 Sept. 2017, www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/what-to-do-with-compost/.

“GHGRP Waste.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 1 Oct. 2019, www.epa.gov/ghgreporting/ghgrp-waste.

“National Waste & Recycling Association Survey Finds Most Americans Would Compost If It Was More Convenient in Their Community.” PR Newswire: Press Release Distribution, Targeting, Monitoring and Marketing, National Waste & Recycling Association, 30 June 2018, www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/national-waste–recycling-association-survey-finds-most-americans-would-compost-if-it-was-more-convenient-in-their-community-239232261.html.

“Want to Compost At Home? Here’s How to Get Started.” Real Mom Nutrition, 21 Feb. 2020, www.realmomnutrition.com/how-to-compost-at-home/.

Young, Kim. “How To Make an Easy DIY Compost Bin.” Blissfully Domestic, blissfullydomestic.com/home-bliss/how-to-make-an-easy-diy-compost-bin/125672/.

 

 

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COMMENTS: 6
  1. April 23, 2020 by Ale Cantu

    I am very proud of you! 🙂

  2. April 24, 2020 by Tina

    I’m heartened by the statistic about 67% of non-composers would be willing to compost if it were easier. Even if only half of them really mean it, that’s a lot of people and a huge potential for reducing carbon emissions.
    Do 72% of Americans really compost their food waste?!

  3. April 24, 2020 by Mila Tewell

    Abigail this is excellent — your research is revealing and your process described accessible. I do have a question that has flummoxed me as a recently initiate to composting. In the winter, I am concerned that my bin is not processing at a fast enough rate with limited heat/sunshine. What do you do in the winter months, or perhaps you don’t have our winter season? Thanks Abigail – well done!

  4. April 27, 2020 by Emmy

    Hi Abigail!
    I loved your presentation, I have always wanted to compost but it seems like a big, scary thing that I have no clue how to do. Your presentation broke this process down into steps that almost everybody has the time and resources to do. There is no excuse for a large amount of waste that Americans have each day and I think your presentation is one step in the right direction to raise this awareness.

  5. April 27, 2020 by Oliver

    Thank you for your inventive take on such an important topic! With global warming becoming such a devastating issue, it is important that we do what we can to make our earth healthier. Your project shows that composting can be such a simple and manageable solution that can help ease the negative effects caused by harmful landfills. I think that your project was very well done, and your use of photos and infographics helped your article a lot. Overall, you did a fantastic job!

  6. April 28, 2020 by Ella Peterson

    Hey Abigail! This was such a great project. I was shocked by how little waste is composted in the US. That’s crazy! But you provided some easily accessible solutions to the issue and are helping to create real change in the world. Good job!

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