It's Cool to Compost: What Is Composting and Why Should We Be Doing It?
Composting is a simple way to reduce your impact on the earth and start building a more sustainable lifestyle. When we compost, we are controlling the decay of biodegradable items like grass clippings, newspapers, and produce scraps. These eventually turn into a nutrient-rich fertilizer that’s super useful for gardeners!. A few simple instructions and you'll be composting in no time – it can be done in a backyard or even on your countertop.
Humans are filling landfills and creating new trash at an alarming rate – almost 5lbs per person per day
Recycling and composting are simple ways to reduce the amount of trash you create
Composting uses organic materials, like grass clippings and fruit and vegetable scraps, to create a mixture that nourishes crops and refreshes soil
We can change our daily habits to be more sustainable and eco-friendly. Small choices like bringing your own reusable produce bags to the market, buying GOTS-certified products, and choosing used or recycled goods whenever possible can make a big difference!
Did you know?
If you’re making more compost than you can use, it’s often possible to sell or donate it to a local farmer!
Every day, the average American produces 4.9 pounds of trash and waste. In a year, that’s over 1,600 pounds per year per person! Unsurprisingly, we are quickly running out of space for all the trash we produce. But a few simple lifestyle changes could drastically reduce our waste output. Composting is a simple way to create less landfill waste and start living a more sustainable life.
What a Waste!
Each day we make choices that can increase or decrease the amount of trash we put into landfills. This can feel like a lot to worry about, but choosing more sustainable living habits doesn’t have to be overwhelming. For starters, before you purchase a product, think about how it was made. Is that product biodegradable or compostable? Not sure what the difference is? You aren't alone.
What Biodegradable Means
This means a product can be broken down by nature into its base elements. A biodegradable product will eventually be broken down by elements like wind, rain, fungi, and naturally occurring bacteria when left outside in the environment.
- Some biodegradable items, like plastics, aren't as good for the environment as they might sound. Sure, they'll be broken down over time but they might be polluting soil and water in the process. This is one way that microplastics enter our oceans.
What Compostable Means
This means that an object can be turned into compost under the right conditions. It's like returning a product back to nature. A biodegradable product is on the right track, but a biodegradable and compostable one is even better! Together, these descriptions mean a product can be broken down in nature and can be put back into the earth to make soil healthier.
- Some items like compostable plastics need to be composted under specific industrial conditions, so keep them out of your backyard tumbler
Before making a purchase, ask yourself a few questions: is this a product that will have a long life cycle, or is it something likely to be trashed in a few weeks or months? What happens at the end of its life cycle – can the product be recycled or composted? If the product can be recycled or compost, how can you make sure that this actually happens?
Recycling is the creation of a new product from old materials, while composting is the controlled decay of organic materials. Both are great ways to reduce waste. But it’s important to make sure your product ends up in the right places for recycling or composting to actually happen. If your compostable item ends up in a landfill with all the rest of your trash, it won’t break down properly.
You might be wondering, why should I compost? Won’t organic materials break down on their own anyway? Not quite. Most trash is wrapped in a plastic bag before hitting the dump. That includes those fruit and vegetable scraps that could be in the compost bin! The plastic bag is the first barrier that prevents these scraps from breaking down naturally. And more often than not, any organic, compostable items in your trash are mixed with items that cannot be broken down, such as hard plastics or glass.
So more often than not, composting is the best way to ensure organic waste returns to the earth in a healthy way. And helping organic materials break down in a controlled environment has many environmental benefits besides reducing your trash output:
- Compost balances alkaline and acidic soils
- Compost can break up clay or dense soils
- Compost can prevent disease and pest infestation in poor, lifeless soil
- Compost reduces the need for chemical fertilizers
- Compost reduces methane and your carbon footprint
What is Composting?
Composting isn’t just for farmers, it’s for everyone. Composting is really just the controlled decay of organic materials, such as yard scraps, kitchen scraps, and paper. When composting is complete, you are left with “compost” – a soil amendment rich in nutrients that can be added to flower or vegetable garden beds.
Whether or not you use that compost yourself is up to you! If you don’t have a garden, or you simply don’t enjoy working with soil, you can always sell or donate your compost to local farmers and gardeners.
Looking for a few tips to get your own compost started? Here are a few basic tips
- Composting consists of layering brown and green materials and occasionally mixing with water. Brown materials provide carbon. They are twigs, dead leaves, branches, and newspapers. Green materials provide nitrogen. They are grass clippings, coffee grounds, and fruit and vegetable scraps. No animal products should be added to compost bins or piles.
- Keep your brown and green layers equal in quantity and layer it like a lasagna. Add water when needed.
- Give your compost a turn or tumble once in a while. A healthy compost pile will smell like earth but not have a foul odor.
- If you live in a small space and don’t have room for an outdoor compost pile, you can try composting at home with an indoor bin ideal for countertops or under-sink storage. You can even look into indoor worm composting.
Can You Compost Home Goods?
When it comes to composting, it’s easy to identify kitchen items like fruits and vegetables that can be tossed in a compost bin. But it’s a bit trickier when it comes to items like textiles, which usually live somewhere between the organic and inorganic realm. If your item is organic and made of all-natural materials (like our Cotton Napper), it’s likely that it will biodegrade at the end of its lifespan.
If you’re lucky, it’s possible that an item will have been tested and found to be compostable. Not all companies have this information, but it’s something you can keep an eye out for while shopping for your home. Our Hugget knot pillows might be a good choice if you’re looking for a stylish pillow that’s biodegradable and compostable!
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If you aren’t sure whether a product will biodegrade or compost, the most environmentally conscious choice you can make with home goods is usually to donate or repurpose the item.