What is compost and how can you start?
What comes to mind when you think of compost? Do you think about burying degradable items into the soil and getting nutrient rich fertilizer after a period of time? Or do you think about special worms working hard to get rid of trash?
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow.” With food scraps and yard waste accumulating to 28% of what we throw away, composting can help divert a good portion of what we would normally send to landfills. Doing so will also reduce the release of methane, a major greenhouse gas.
Composting requires three basic components:
- Browns – dead leaves, branches twigs
- Greens – grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, coffee grounds
Having the right mixture of water, greens, and browns is important for your compost pile. Composting enriches soil and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers. It also helps retain moisture and suppress plant diseases and pests.
A great place to start your compost pile is in a dry, shady spot near a water source outside. Don’t have an outdoor space to compost? No worries. It is possible to compost indoors. Find more tips in a previous Sustainable Tip of The Week article here. Another option is to participate in community composting.
University’s Dining Services also participates in composting with its “behind the scenes composting program” where pre-consumer and post-consumer products are collected. Read more about the University’s initiatives here.
Written by Emily Su, Class of 2022.
Photo Credit: Quartz