Composting is a natural process that involves breaking down organic waste materials into a nutrient-rich soil improver. It can be done on a small scale in a house (yes, in house composting is a thing!) or on a large scale in a commercial composting facility. Composting offers numerous sustainability benefits for both individuals and communities, including reducing waste, improving soil health, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
BENEFITS OF COMPOSTING
#1 WASTE REDUCTION
One of the most significant benefits of composting is waste reduction. Organic waste materials, such as food scraps and garden waste, make up a significant portion of the waste that ends up in landfills. By limiting the amount of food waste we put in our bins we can reduce the need for landfill space. We currently throw away 6.6million tonnes of food waste a year in the UK alone, that’s a whole lot of nutrients getting lost to landfill.
#2 REDUCE GREEN HOUSE GAS EMISSIONS
When we send organic matter to landfill it gets buried under tonnes of other material, creating an anaerobic environment. The bacteria that help decompose food waste under these conditions also produce landfill or biogas; a potent mixture of gases which aren’t produced under the aerobic conditions created in a home composting environment. By composting organic waste materials, they are diverted from landfills, reducing the amount of methane produced.
#3 SOIL HEALTH (AND COST SAVING)
Composting has significant benefits for soil health. The nutrient-rich soil improver created by composting can be used to enhance soil quality, which can lead to increased yields, better water retention, and reduced erosion. Compost can also help to suppress plant diseases and pests, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Once you’ve set up your composting system, you can produce your own soil improver for years to come, saving you money on shop bought compost and plant feed!
Composting is an excellent way to promote sustainable living practices. By composting at home, you can reduce your environmental impact and take an active role in reducing waste. It can also be an educational opportunity for children, teaching them about the natural process of decomposition and the importance of sustainable living practices.
WHICH COMPOSTING METHOD IS RIGHT FOR ME?
Not everyone has the space for a traditional compost heap but that doesn't mean you can't start composting. There are four broad categories of composting at home, and you can even buy stylish Skandi-inspired wormeries that won't look out of place in a designer kitchen!
TYPES OF COMPOSTING
1. Traditional Composting: This is the most common type of composting. It involves creating a pile of organic waste materials in a designated area in your garden, or using a compost bin. You can include kitchen scraps, garden waste, leaves, and other organic materials. This pile needs to be turned regularly to promote aeration and decomposition.
Pro's and Con's of Traditional Composting
Low cost and simple to set up
Allows for large amounts of organic waste to be composted at once
Produces high-quality compost that can improve soil health
Requires a significant amount of space
Can take several months to produce compost
Can be unsightly and may attract pest
2. Tumbler Composting: This is a variation of traditional composting that involves using a tumbler to mix and aerate the compost. All your kitchen and garden waste cam be added through a small hatch and everything is kept inside. These are great if you're concerned about rats and other rodents taking up residence in your compost.
Pros and Cons of Tumbler Composting
Produces compost more quickly than traditional composting
Requires less space than traditional composting
Allows for easy turning and mixing of compost
Tumblers can be expensive
Requires regular turning, which can be difficult for some people
May not be suitable for large amounts of organic waste
3. Bokashi Composting: This type of composting involves fermenting organic waste with a mixture of microorganisms. The fermented waste can then be added to traditional compost or soil. Bokashi composting is great for small spaces, as it can be done indoors, and it doesn't produce a foul odour. However, it requires the use of a special bokashi mix and can be more time-consuming than other types of composting.
Pros and Cons of Bokashi Composting
Can be done indoors
Does not produce a foul odor
Allows for the composting of all types of organic waste
Requires the use of a special bokashi mix
Can be more time-consuming than other types of composting
Requires additional steps, such as burying the fermented waste in soil
4. Vermicomposting: This type of composting involves using worms to break down organic waste materials. Vermicomposting is great for small spaces and can be done indoors. Worm castings (the waste produced by the worms) are an excellent soil amendment and can be used in gardens and potted plants. However, vermicomposting requires a bit more maintenance than other types of composting, as the worms need specific conditions to thrive.
Pros and cons of wormeries:
Wormeries are great for small spaces and can be used indoors or outdoors
Worm castings are an excellent soil amendment and can be used to grow healthy plants.
Wormeries produce compost quickly, usually in 2-3 months.
Wormeries do not produce a foul odor when maintained properly.
Wormeries require regular maintenance, including feeding the worms and keeping the bin moist.
Not all types of organic waste can be added to wormeries. For example, meat and dairy products should be avoided.
Wormeries can attract pests if not maintained properly.
Wormeries can be expensive, particularly if you need to purchase worms and a specialized bin.
No matter which process you use, within weeks or months you’ll have nutrient rich “black gold” to improve your soil or fill your balcony pots AND you’ll be helping the environment too.
In summary, composting offers numerous sustainability benefits for both individuals and communities. By reducing waste, improving soil health, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, composting is an excellent way to promote sustainable living practices and protect the environment. So, if you're looking for a simple way to reduce your environmental impact and promote sustainability, consider starting a composting.