How To Compost Food Scraps
By Alicia Ghio, the Natural Princess
Just as important as the kind of food you buy, is what you do with what’s leftover.
The typical household throws away an estimated 474 pounds of food waste every year. In fact, According to the United States EPA yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 27 percent of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream.
What can you do? One easy thing you can do is compost your food scraps.
Composting is the process by which organic material breaks down and becomes a natural fertilizer that’s great for your garden, houseplants and even your lawn.
To make great compost you need four basic things: Air, Water, Carbon aka “Browns” (this includes things like newspapers and leaves) and Nitrogen aka “Greens” (this includes things like your kitchen scraps and grass). Keep in mind that the smaller the pieces you toss into your compost pile, the faster they will break down. And, you’ll need a lot more browns than greens.
Start with a small counter compost pail. As you trim the ends from the carrots or peel a potato you can just toss the scraps into the pail. I’m a fan of ones that look pretty and are functional.
Except for meat and dairy you can compost nearly everything: coffee grounds, eggshells, vegetable scraps, and well, you get the idea.
Twice a week or whenever the compost pail is full, add its contents to a compost bin or pile that you keep outside. You can buy a compost bin that’s ready to go and all you have to do is add your scraps and tumble. Or, if you’re like me and have a yard, just start a pile somewhere where it won’t be an eyesore for your neighbors. You can use a pitchfork or shovel to aerate it.
Whatever way you choose, be sure to turn your bin or pile every couple of days. This lets air get in there, which helps break things down. To be honest, we only turn ours once a week and it’s just fine. You’ll want to make sure your compost pile stays moist, but not wet and in 4-6 weeks you’ll have compost.
That’s pretty much all there is to it. When we started composting I was amazed at how much less we had for the garbage man every week. Reducing waste can have a big impact on improving the environment. Why not challenge yourself and see how much you can reduce the waste you put by the curb. You might just be surprised.
For more resources on composting check out www.howtocompost.org,
www.compostinginstructions.com or www.composting101.com
- All your vegetable and fruit wastes, (including rinds and cores) even if they are moldy and ugly
- Old bread, donuts, cookies, crackers, pizza crust, noodles
- Grains (cooked or uncooked)
- Coffee grounds, tea bags, filters
- Fruit or vegetable pulp from juicing
- Old spices
- Nut shells
- Egg shells (crush well)
- Corn cobs and husks (cobs breakdown very slowly)
- Meat or meat waste, such as bones, fat, gristle, skin, etc.
- Fish or fish waste
- Dairy products, such as cheese, butter, cottage cheese, yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream, etc.
- Grease and oils of any kind