Adding Composting to Your Recycling Practices


At first, it was the occasional aluminum can. After a while, newspapers and clear bottles joined the collection, followed by plastic containers, sans caps and lids. You double checked for missing bags on trash day, but finally, you forgot what it was like to not recycle. Still, you find yourself more than a little tentative about the next step – composting. Here are some tips to taking that next stride with confidence.

Assess your situation:

  • How much space do you have for building your first composting project? If you live in a rural setting or in a property with a large yard, even in a city, your options are pretty wide. If, on the other hand, you live in an apartment, you’re going to have to be resourceful, but you’ll not be the first urban dweller to successfully compost in close quarters.
  • Who will be contributing to your diverted waste stream? The single person or pair of roommates has the flexibility to compost indoors. Families, or even neighbors who’ve committed to collective composting, can share in the minimal costs and maintenance of establishing a larger composting site.
  • What are the rules about composting where you live? If you rent, you’ll probably need to obtain permission for starting your compost activity, especially if you live in an apartment. Some neighborhoods and municipalities also have regulations you’ll want to know before you compost. Don’t forget the unwritten “laws” that go with living next to other people. Most neighbors will appreciate the courtesy of being included in your plan to recycle, so be prepared to educate anyone with questions about your intended plan.

Get the facts:

  • It should come as no surprise that reliable information about composting is ubiquitous. While every source will likely have slight differences, you’ll easily be able to identify the common pointers. Depending upon your use, you can accessorize your composting method to suit your own specifications.
  • Like recycling, there’s something about composting that connects you with everyone else. Use this to your advantage and network to find those helpful tips. Many solid waste management districts have affiliated groups located in neighborhoods. These bodies of environmentally conscious people provide a wealth of experience and know the dos and don’ts of, in this case, composting.
  • Decide on the type of container you’re going to use and what materials you’ll need. Readymade containers are easy to find and affordable, while home-built composters can be made from such items as used tires, garbage cans or spare construction materials. Find out where you can secure the materials you’ll need to actually construct your compost container.

Take that step:

  • By now, you’ve gathered what you need to move forward. Map out a simple project plan and get started!
  • Tailor the materials you’ll include in your compost pile. The consensus is that a 30 to 1 mixture of carbon to nitrogen is just right. Shredded newspaper is a common source of carbon material, while fresh grass clippings contain high amounts of nitrogen. Adding worms to the mixture speeds up the decomposition process, while regular turning of the mixture provides more surface area exposure to the material, as this also contributes to faster curing. Avoid adding lipids, i.e. meat scraps, dairy products, lettuce with dressing residue, as this may produce odors and attract scavengers.
  • Put your compost to use! In as little as six to eight weeks, depending upon a combination of factors, your compost substance will be ready for use. From indoor ledge planters, to flower pots to small gardens, the addition of composted food waste makes for a better soil composition while reducing your own contribution to the solid waste stream.

Good habits take time. That point in your future where you reflect on how you ever went through life without composting may not be just around the corner, but it’s not that far away once you get started. Treating your composting goals as a process and following the pointers mentioned here, your adding composting to your lifestyle will develop into a habit you’ll want to share with others.

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