There are more than 40 million gardeners across the United States, and more than half of them report that they compost their organic waste on a regular basis. The statistics are encouraging: the more we compost our food scraps and leaves, the less we contribute to landfills. Americans are more willing than ever to recycle: we want to do whatever we can to help, but many of us are unfamiliar with the benefits of composting. How can I start composting at home? What equipment will I need? What is composting, exactly?
Composting is a way that you can turn your organic waste into soil for your garden. You can put a wide variety of your kitchen garbage into your compost pile, but experts say that you should avoid putting in any meat or dairy products. You should get a small container with a lid for your kitchen: put in your coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells, and cereal boxes. Once your container is full, take it out to your backyard and add it to the compost pile. Most gardeners mark off a section of their yard and dedicate it to composting.
There are many different ways to build a compost pile. You can build a simple wire bin, buy a plastic bin, or make your own wooden compost container. Your compost will generate heat: as the leaves and kitchen scraps break down, they will turn into soil. This is actually a natural process — think of the forest floor underneath a bed of leaves — but composting can accelerate the return to soil. There are also composters who make sure to include worms in their compost bins. This is referred to as “vermiculture.” The worms’ activity hastens the breakdown of the organic ingredients in your compost pile.
Americans are searching for ways to contribute to large-scale recycling efforts. Many people are making the shift to recycled clothing stores: local donation pick ups make it easy to donate our used furniture and clothing. Environmental experts consistently report that most textiles can be recycled: your old curtains, rugs, and clothing will be much appreciated by stores that support low-income families. Local donation pick ups can come to your home, receive your furniture, and return to the store: families who are just starting out, college students, and older adults can benefit from your donations.
Recycled clothing stores keep millions of tons of clothing out of America’s landfills every year. Environmental activists are working to get more people involved in recycling. Their motto is “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” We are bagging up thousands of tons of leaves every year. Instead of removing the leaves from your property, try mounding them on top of your gardening beds and put a tarp on top. The leaves will break down over the course of the winter and you may find that your annuals have become perennials. Looking to attract more bees to your property? Bees love flowers that grow in composted soil: the richness of the soil works to make flowers brighter, tastier, and more appealing.
Where can I donate clothes? It’s pretty simple to get started with clothing recycling. Look around your town for large local donation pick ups: they are large bins where anyone can drop off shoes, curtains, and other items for used clothing pick up. If your town does not have these bins, then call your clothing donation center for local donation pick ups. It’s exciting for children to learn about recycling and the environment, and families who are in need of clothing will thank you. Recycling is fun, it’s easy to do, and you may be inspired to start a compost pile in your backyard. We want to do what’s best for the environment; even though organic waste recycling may seem like a small thing, it is a huge step toward a brighter future without overflowing landfills.