3 Reasons to Start Composting

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”          – Margaret Atwood
Most people don’t think of things like dirt on a daily basis. But the truth is, dirt – more specifically, soil – is tied closely to the health of your food, the health of the environment, and the health of your pocketbook. Below you’ll find these three great reasons explained in detail.

1. It Boosts Your Soil’s Vitality

Adding compost to your soil is one of the best things you can do to boost the health of your garden. Composting involves combining organic waste from your yard and home in a pile or bin so that decomposition can occur.

Start composting to produce a natural organic fertilizer, or “humus” that can be used for lawns and gardens. It boosts plant growth by adding nutrients to your plants as well as retaining soil moisture. Using compost as a natural fertilizer introduces microscopic bacteria and fungi that aerate the soil and ward off plant diseases.

Composting is extremely easy to learn. To begin, first you must know what materials to compost; never compost meat or fish scraps, weeds, or diseased plants. Additionally, be aware that many fruit rinds and peels contain pesticide residue that may contaminate your compost pile.

Try composting organic materials that are either carbon or nitrogen-rich together to balance out these elements. For example, using a heavy amount of carbon-rich matter (dried leaves, stems, peels, egg shells, corn stalks) with a little bit of nitrogen-rich matter (manure, food scraps, lawn clippings) will create a healthy, balanced pile of compost.

A diagram of the layered components of a compost pile. Photo via Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District.

A diagram of the layered components of a compost pile. Image via Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District.

2. It’s Environmentally Sound

Composting your household and garden organic waste is environmentally friendly on so many levels. First, it reduces or eliminates entirely the need to use fertilizers on crops because it naturally provides minerals and nutrients to the plant (which promotes growth and prevents disease).

This is significant because chemical fertilizers are notorious for wreaking havoc on water resources due to pollutant runoff. Secondly, composting household waste cuts down your garbage footprint and diverts almost 30% of compostable trash away from landfills and into your garden where it’s needed.

A huge environmental benefit of lessening your landfill input is the reduction of methane pollution that’s emitted from landfills. Landfills are harmful in terms of the pollution they create; the trash causes anaerobic conditions where plant matter produces methane as it decays, which evidently contributes to climate change.

One last environmental benefit of composting is that it conserves water; the moisture from the humus provides water to your crops. So the frequency of water irrigation is diminished if you utilize compost as a soil amendment.

3. It’s Free!

One of the most obvious reasons to start composting your organic waste is to save money. Artificial fertilizers are not particularly cheap, thus by simply substituting them with compost from your home and yard, you’ll save quite a bit annually.

Additionally, you’ll see the same results when using compost as you would a chemical fertilizer.

[/su_divider]Featured Image: Start composting! Image Via Joi Ito.

About The Author

is a recent graduate of the University of Oregon where she earned a Bachelor of Science in environmental studies and a minor in business administration. Growing up discovering the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest gave her a passion for both conservation and sustainability. She hopes to expand her knowledge of climate change by earning a Master’s degree in environmental science and specializing in biogeochemistry. As a foodie, her interests lie in cooking and baking, as well as traveling, camping, and exploring the outdoors.