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March 2018
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Composting at Home: Going Green
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Composting at Home: Going Green

Across the United States, people are finding more and more places to deposit their compost, such as at farmers? markets or green spaces. Once a farming and home economist tradition, composting is finding revitalization. This movement is growing in popularity as an effort to improve the state of the earth.

Why compost?
More than 40% of all food produced in America is not eaten
More than 29 million tons of food waste is produced each year
Food scraps make up 17% of what we send to landfills in the United States
The average American wastes more than ? pound of food each day
25% of what enters our homes is not eaten, when you count what we put down the disposal and throw out
American restaurants throw away more than 6000 tons of food every day, according to some calculations
Food costs America more than $100 billion annually, according to the same studies
The average four-person household wastes about $600 of food each year

What does wasted food mean for the environment?
Wasting food misuses the time, energy, and resources in money and oil that are needed to produce that food. The food winds up costing more to the earth than the purchase price, because more energy is needed to dispose of the waste than is used to produce the food.

Food rotting in landfills contributes to global warming by causing methane emissions or greenhouse gasses.

Wet food waste is the main threat to groundwater or stream pollution, in addition to the potential for leaks and runoff from some landfills.

How does composting help the environment?
Composting is great for the environment, because compost is:
Essential for growing plants and produce
Great for the environment by reducing waste that goes into landfills

What can I compost?
You can compost any organic material, either plant or animal. This includes:
Vegetables
Vegetable scraps
Fruits
Tea bags
Nuts
Seeds
Meat
Eggs
Coffee
Paper
Bones
Peels

Basically, you can compost anything that comes from the earth, including:
Grass clippings
Fresh manure (horse, chicken, rabbit, cow)
Kitchen scraps
Weeds
Green leaves
Leftover produce from the garden or kitchen
Brown, dry leaves
Dried grass
Cornstalks (shredded)
Straw
Sawdust (in moderation; see next section)

How do I compost?
You can compost several different ways.

An airtight bucket in the kitchen: Keep the bucket either in your refrigerator or on the countertop. Take it to a composting spot (usually at your farmers? market) each week. Most major cities have composting collection Web sites listed on the Internet.

Open compost bin: Choose a designated spot and make a container without a lid for ?green? materials. Allow rainwater and air to accelerate the process of making the compost. This type of bin may attract pests and animals, so many people choose to top their open container with a layer of straw.

Closed compost bin: Many people choose to purchase a compost bin, which comes with directions for making successful compost. These are good choices for gardeners, who use the compost to plant and grow their seeds. An online search can help find the one that is right for you.

Visit www.howtocompost.org for more information.

References and recommended readings
Bloom J. American Wasteland. Philadelphia, PA: Da Capo Press; 2010.

Bloom J. The food not eaten: food waste. Available at: http://www.culinate.com/articles/features/wasted_food. Accessed January 13, 2011.

CompostGuide.com. Why make compost? Available at: http://compostguide.com/. Accessed January 13, 2011.

HowToCompost.org. Your compost resource. Available at: http://www.howtocompost.org/. Accessed January 13, 2011.

Rathje W. Once and future landfills. National Geographic. 1991;179:116-134.

The Garden of Oz. The basics of composting. Available at: http://www.thegardenofoz.org/composting101.asp. Accessed January 13, 2011.

Review Date 2/11
G-1512





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