Most people are aware that recycling can turn materials that otherwise would become waste into valuable resources, which benefits the environmental and your pocket. You probably have been collecting, separating and recycling materials like glass, metal, plastics, and paper. However, did you know that recycling also includes composting? Composting of organic (once-living) materials, instead of sending it to landfills, can be transformed into a useful additive for your garden and other landscaping needs.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, composting can:
- Suppress plant diseases and pests
- Reduce or eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers
- Promote higher yields of agricultural crops
- Facilitate reforestation, wetlands restoration, and habitat revitalization efforts by amending contaminated, compacted, and marginal soils
- Cost-effectively remediate soils contaminated by hazardous waste
- Remove solids, oil, grease, and heavy metals from stormwater runoff
- Capture and destroy 99.6 percent of industrial volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) in contaminated air
- Provide cost savings of at least 50 percent over conventional soil, water, and air pollution remediation technologies, where applicable
It is often said that composting is nature’s way of recycling, but that’s not quite right. Decomposition is actually nature’s way of reusing organic (or “once-living”) materials, and when we understand and then control that process... that’s composting.
Compost is created when organic residues such as tree leaves, grass clippings, garden trimmings, yard prunings, and kitchen scraps are combined and piled up into a heap. The organic material is then decomposed by microscopic creatures (microorganisms) and transformed into humus or mulch, highly valuable soil improvers. The microorganisms – healthy, invisible “bugs” – will then do most of the work for us.
Compost is not soil. Soil is not made from organic material, as compost is, but from minerals: sand, silt, and clay. There are good soils and poor soils, and gardeners soon become aware that we can greatly improve the quality of the soil in our yards and gardens by increasing the organic content.
Want to learn more about composting? Contact Us and we will send you a "Guide to Home Composting" written by Gray Russell, a co-founder of Green Living Solutions, and the Environmental Coordinator for the Township of Montclair, NJ. For seven years Gray was the Compost Project Manager for Bronx Green-Up, the community outreach program at The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG). Gray also oversaw the design, construction, and operation of NYBG’s large-scale composting facility, a permanent home composting educational exhibit in NYBG’s famous Demonstration Gardens, and the implementation of an innovative on-site, in-vessel food waste composter at NYBG’s Terrace Café and Restaurant.