What is Compost?
The average person creates about 4.5 pounds of trash each day. That’s a lot of waste! Fortunately, composting is a pretty simple process that can help us reduce the waste that we create.
So, what is composting? Composting is the process in which plants and vegetables break down to create a nutrient rich mixture called humus. This organic compost mixture is generally used as fertilizer that can be added to plants and gardens. Using organic compost visibly improves the health of plants, and since it is made of natural ingredients, it has really beneficial environmental impacts as well. Composting is an important part of achieving a circular economy, since it can improve soil health and turn trash into food!
Compostable vs Biodegradable:
There is often confusion on the difference between biodegradation and compost. The easiest way to differentiate is that compostable things can be broken down into nutrients that benefit the soil. On the other hand, biodegradable waste can be broken down into the earth, but there might be traces of pollutants left behind that can be harmful to the land. All things that are compostable are degradable but not all biodegradable things are compostable. A bag that is made from plastic takes about 1000 years to decompose, and even once it is broken down, the leftover microplastics will pollute the earth. Just because it is able to biodegrade does not mean that it is good for the earth. Compostable bags, however, are made with earth friendly fibers that will improve soil health in just 1 year!
Why You Should Compost:
Composting is part of a regenerative cycle that we see in many of the earth’s natural processes. It turns waste products into a great source of nutrients for future plants and promotes growth. In this way, composting has the ability to create new food from waste products!
The act of creating “trash” is actually a modern practice that arose when people began modifying natural materials. Historically, indigenous people have been composting as a natural way of living for generations. Composting has allowed these populations to perfect the closed loop cycle and put every bit of their resources to use. The trash that we see in our daily lives is actually a flaw in the greater system and composting is one of the small steps that we can take to correct it and reduce our waste.
The process of composting also helps minimize the polluting effects of landfill waste by removing organic materials from the mainstream trash flow. Generally, when plants and vegetables end up in the landfill, they release a gas called methane which is the most potent GreenHouse Gas, and a huge player in global warming. Thankfully, the continual release of methane from decomposing plants in the landfill can easily be reduced by composting whenever possible.
To ensure that our products are not contributing to the creation of trash and pollution, we have formed a partnership with Elevate Packaging. Elevate Packaging ensures that the materials used to label our products will not cause harm. In fact, the packaging we use is compostable and will give back to the earth, rather than simply being biodegradable. Since the labels are made with renewable materials that will actually provide nutrients to the land once all of your DOHM product has been used. By using compostable products, you too can help to minimize the harmful effects of waste and improve the lives of others.
The numerous benefits of compost have inspired us to close the loop and create our own at home compost piles, and we hope that you do so too. Luckily enough, you don’t need to have a large backyard to create your own at home compost. In fact, you can compost indoors even with minimal space.
Ways to Compost:
There are actually many different ways to compost, so it is important to find the way that works for you!
1. Farmers' markets
Many farmers markets have sites where you can drop off your compost. From there, the farmers will properly take care of the compost and use it as fertilizer for their fields. Use this site to find a compost drop off near you.
2. Community gardens
If you have community gardens of compost collection sites in your area, these can also be an invaluable resource when it comes to composting. Most local gardens will accept compost and be able to put it to great use!
3. Waste haulers
Additionally, many waste haulers have begun accepting compost in addition to their normal waste services. In this case, the waste management company will collect your compostable material in a separate bin and transport it to an industrial composting facility. At this facility, there are large bins that treat the compost and ensure that the ingredients are properly broken down, so you do not need to worry about turning or watering your compost beforehand.
3. Backyard composting
Backyard composting is also a viable option for those who have additional outdoor space. This do-it-yourself approach does take a bit of persistence, but has a great outcome.
4. At home composting
Lastly, composting at home is also a great option! Since composting can take as much or as little space as you would like, this is a great option when you are limited in space.
Here are a few tips and tricks on how to create less trash and get started on your own at home compost pile
How to Compost at Home:
1. Get a bin
If you would like to begin composting at home, the first step is to obtain a bin that allows for aeration. Ideally one with a removable lid. Indoor composting does not mean that your home will be smelly. You can keep a lid on your compost bin for the most part, so odors will be trapped inside, but we do recommend giving your pile air every now and then. There is no perfect amount of time to have the lid on or off of your bin, but allowing your pile to get oxygen will help to minimize the smell. This makes it perfect for people who live in small apartments!
2. Collect ingredients
Next, you should gather your ingredients. You want to identify which compostable materials you should separate from your normal trash. Below we have a comprehensive list of what is compostable, but a good rule of thumb is that if it grows, it goes!
- Cotton or wool fabrics
- Dryer or vacuum lint
- Animal manure (not from cats, dogs, or animals that eat meat)
- Small bits of wood or sawdust
- Paper (non colored)
- Egg shells
- Fruit and vegetable scraps
- Grass clippings
- Paper tea bags
- Bread, rice, and grains
- Coffee grounds
3. Make a greens to browns ratio
You should strive for about 3 parts brown to 1 part green compost ingredients. Don’t fret if your compost is not the right ratio, at the end of the day it will all break down regardless.
4. Ensure that ingredients are small
Once you have collected these ingredients, it is important to ensure that large pieces are broken into smaller sizes. This will ensure that the materials compost more quickly. For example, composting cardboard can be tricky, but as long as the pieces are somewhat small in size, it will be a great addition to your compost pile.
Next, you will want to create a mix of your ingredients with the green waste towards the bottom of the container. Having the greens in between layers of brown ingredients will help them compost better.
6. Turn your pile
You should turnover your pile every 2-4 weeks depending on the size of your bin, and how frequently you add new materials. Having a larger pile would require more frequent turning, and a smaller pile would require less frequent turning. A key part to caring for your compost is allowing it sufficient time in between turns so it can become warm enough for the ingredients to break down.
7. Water your compost
You may want to add water periodically to your compost. This will ensure that your pile stays moist enough for microorganisms to break down the material.
You can use worms in your compost pile, but you do not have to! Worms are expert decomposers and help break down organic material, so they will help your leftovers compost faster. Without using worms, it will just take a bit longer for your materials to fully break down.
9. Check up on your pile
After a few months of turning your compost, there should be a visible difference in the appearance of the materials. It should appear to be a dark, earthy brown color, and can now be used on your plants. If there are still some larger pieces in the mix, that is okay. Simply filter them out and add them to your next compost pile.
10. Use your compost
Finally, you can use your compost in your lawn or garden. You can use compost in house plants, but take caution. Compost is very water retentive, so when used on house plants it can cause the roots of your plants to rot from excess water.
What Not to Compost:
1. Meat and Dairy Products
There are some food ingredients that are not ideal for home composting, including meat and dairy. This is because these items can carry pathogens that can make your compost unhealthy and attract pests. You will also want to avoid using any manure that comes from a meat eating animal such as a cat or dog. Additionally, you can compost paper towels, but should avoid composting ones that have been soiled by meat or dairy, just to be safe.
2. Any Diseased Organic Matter
You will also want to avoid using any plants or foods that are diseased in any way. Including diseased plants in your composting bin can actually spread the illness to other plants when the compost is used as fertilizer, unless you have proper disease resistance. In this sense, it is easier to simply avoid diseased material.
3. Plastics, Synthetics, or Pesticide Treated Materials
You should avoid using any plastics or synthetics in your compost because they can leave traces of pollutants in your compost. These particles can harm plants and people, and will negate the positive impacts of using the compost in the first place.
At DOHM, our products are both biodegradable and compostable. This means that our products are able to be broken down over time as they interact with the earth and can actually improve the nutritional content of the soil. We take pride in the minimal post-consumer effects of our products, and encourage you to compost at home if you have the ability to because why would you create trash when you can create food?!
Once you create your compost pile there, we hope that you reflect upon your purchasing habits. Buying products that you can compost, such as unpacked fruits and veggies and bulk grains, rather than things that will end up in the landfill will help you minimize the amount of waste in the landfills, which is good for you, other humans, and the earth.