Composting 101


Composting 101

What composting is, how you can get started, and why you should care.

What is composting?

Composting is allowing biodegradable materials to rot and be reused in their rotten state. You will often see this in the case of food scraps used as fertilizer rather than purchasing fertilizer from the store. Composting takes items that would have normally been thrown away in the trash, causing more methane (a greenhouse gas.) 

There are two types of composting- backyard and industrial composting. When you see compostable plastic packaging or plates/cutlery those are typically industrial compostable only. Items such as food scraps, brown paper bags/egg cartons, leaves, and plant material are backyard compostable and can be composted in a reasonable amount of time in a non-industrial facility. 

It is important to note that you should not compost meat as the amount of time it takes to break down can cause a terrible smell and pests (especially rats if you are in Baltimore.) 
This website has a really great list of what can and can not be composted.

Why is composting important?

Composting helps the environment and can save you money if you have a garden. Compost helps the environment by directly reducing the amount of methane emissions due to rotting organic materials in landfills and by carbon sequestration by converting carbon to soil carbon. Throwing valuable compostable items in the trash not only wastes the possible compost, but also wastes the food, water, and energy needed to create that item. Composting enables you to use the items you would normally throw away. 

If you are making your own fertilizer you also have the added benefit of knowing what is in your fertilizer and thus, know what you are feeling your plants and, if you are eating what you are growing, what you are eating. Even if you are not eating what you are growing, the fertilizer has the ability to contaminate local water sources and soil. 

Project Drawdown has a useful and short article on why composting is valuable (with references) that you can see here.

What if I don’t have a garden/backyard/car?

Not everyone has a garden or the space in their backyard for a large compost. Here are some options with links for different people!

Small Bin options:

Drop off options: Baltimore city/surrounding area

Come to you options: Baltimore city/surrounding area

These options are not comprehensive but a quick search will enable you to find options in your area.

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