We all know that littering is bad for the environment. Did you also know “throwing away” our garbage pollutes the earth?
When the garbage truck comes every week, they take the trash to a landfill, where everything is left to breakdown. Putting organic food waste into a landfill does not breakdown properly and can create a toxic sludge that pollutes water and air. This food waste also increases the volume of materials in the landfill, meaning it fills up much faster. One way that you and your family can reduce waste is by composting!
Organic food waste might include things such as:
- apple peels and cores
- orange peels
- veggie ends
- fruits and veggies going bad
- coffee grinds
- grass clippings
- dead leaves
Composting involves taking these items that you will no longer eat or from your backyard and allow them to decompose properly. Usually this will take place in a contained space, like a composting bin. The cool thing is, once your compost contents are decomposed, you can use it to grow plants! It will provide them with many nutrients to grow!
- It’s easy!
- Organic waste can be 30-50% (or more) of household garbage.
- Compost keeps nutrients in the soil and out of the landfill.
- Your plants will be healthier if you grow them in soil rich with composted nutrients.
- Compost-rich soils hold water better, meaning less time watering and less water used.
- Compost can allow you to make new gardens in places with poor soil.
- Keeping compost out of landfills will extend the landfill’s life and reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
Start a Kid’s Compost Bottle
If you want to see the process of decomposition up close, try this soda bottle composter!
- Rinse out a 2-litre soda bottle and remove the label.
- Make a flip top lid by cutting almost all the way around the bottle about 1/3 of the way down and poke a few air holes in above the cut.
- Place a layer of soil at the bottom of the bottle and spray it with water to moisten it.
- Add a layer of fruit scraps/vegetable scraps
- Add another layer of dirt.
- Add a layer of dried leaves.
- Repeat these layers until the bottle is full.
- Tape the flip top lid shut and place bottle in a sunny location.
- Roll the bottle around every day to mix the compost and watch as your fruits and veggies decompose!
Start a Family Compost
If your whole family is ready to start composting, here’s how to set up a backyard compost:
- Choose a location: A place that will receive some sun throughout the day. It should be at least two feet away from any structures and in a well-drained spot.
- Decide on a pile or bin: Composting doesn’t require special equipment. You can start a simple pile in your backyard or purchase a bin for it. A bin may discourage animals from investigating. But either will work!
- If you use a bin, make sure to drill 20-30 holes in the lid and in the bottom of the bin so that water can drain and air can flow through.
- Load it up with materials: Alternate your compost between layers of brown materials and green materials. Your compost should have 60% brown compost and 40% green compost. As you continue to compost, add brown leaves to help maintain a balance of carbon and nitrogen.
- Brown Materials: egg cartons, dried leaves, shredded newspaper, cardboard, coffee filters etc.
- Green Materials: flowers, vegetables, fruit, eggshells, garden waste etc.
- Add water: You might need to water the compost from time to time. The microbes need moisture to survive – but not too much. It should be as damp as a wrung-out sponge.
- Turn your pile: Once a week, use a shovel or pitchfork to turn your compost, breaking up clumps and infusing oxygen into the material so your microorganisms thrive. You’ll keep your compost healthier, and it will break down faster.
- It will take about 3-5 months for your compost to be ready to empty into your garden, but you can watch as your food scraps decompose!
It is that simple! Over time, you’ll create a rich soil that smells like a forest…
Ready to go even further? Help your school become one of the dozens of composting schools in Ontario! Read more about starting a school composting program.
5 Steps to Composting in Bear Country
Sometimes we get uninvited guests to our backyards, which may include black bears. If your compost isn’t properly maintained, there is a chance that they could get into it. With the proper steps…these guests shouldn’t be a problem!
- Be unattractive to bears.
- Avoid having a smelly compost bin by not putting meat or dairy products in.
- Keep a compost with equal brown and green materials.
- Every time you add kitchen or garden scraps to your compost, add an equal amount of brown material (newspaper, cardboard, egg cartons).
- Mix the compost frequently.
- It is important to keep the air flowing through so the compost doesn’t smell.
- Bury your fruit.
- If you put fruit in your compost, bury it in soil to avoid it smelling.
- Talk to your neighbours.
- Make sure your neighbours know that you are composting.
- If they also compost, make sure that they know how to do it safely in bear country.