Monday, July 30, 2012

3 Reasons Why You Should Compost

You don't even have to get your hands dirty to compost if you live in an area that offers food/yard waste pickup services.

Hands holding soil and a small plant.
Help nature out by donating food scraps and yard waste to the soil.

Did you know that up to 30 percent of commercial garbage is composed of food and compostable material?

Composting is nature’s way of recycling. As a natural part of the biological cycle of growth and decay, composting occurs as microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, insects and worms decompose dead plant matter into nutrients that living plants can use. We can help nature out by donating our food scraps and yard waste to the soil.

Why compost?

  • Soil builder: Compost is a natural and valuable resource. Not only does it add nutrients to the soil, but it also promotes root growth by helping soil retain water. This encourages plants to build expansive root systems, which increases drought resistance, protects the ground from erosion, and prevents runoff of polluted materials into our waters.
  • Reduces the need for synthetic chemicals and fertilizers: Composted soil is sustainable on its own. In fact, compost contains numerous nutrients not found in synthetic products.
  • Reduces waste: Composting reduces the environmental impact and cost of hauling waste to landfills. Less garbage saves landfill space and minimizes methane, a greenhouse gas found in landfills.

Want to get started? In collaboration with Seattle Tilth’s Natural Soil Building Program, Seattle Public Utilities has a complete composting guide (pdf) to nurture the soil in your own backyard.

Not ready to get your hands dirty? If you live in the Seattle area and already have food/yard waste service, simply drop scraps into designated bins. If not, register for food/yard waste curbside service for a small monthly fee. Scraps are sent to Cedar Grove Composting, a family-owned business with the largest single yard composting facility in the United States. Collected materials are composted and used on local parks and gardens or sold to consumers as natural fertilizer.

Not in Seattle? Contact your local waste provider for similar services.

— Carrie Huseman, MS, dietetic intern, and Debra Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.

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