How Does Composting Work?

What Is Composting?

Composting is nature’s recycling process. Basically, it’s the way nature breaks down organic waste (like food scraps and yard waste) into nutrients that new plants can use to grow. Lots of different nutrients in the soil make the soil really healthy (much like having diverse nutrients in our bodies), and healthy soil is super important for the environment.

Healthy soil means healthy plants, fruits, and veggies as well as cleaner air and water (and that’s good news for us). Compost feeds new plants that eventually die or leave behind food scraps. We compost the remains and the cycle repeats. It’s really a simplified version of the circle of life! Here’s a diagram to break it down for you.

Why Can’t I Just Throw My Organic Waste In The Trash?

Great question! Organic waste breaks down thanks to a lot of hard work from worms, bugs, good bacteria, and other microorganisms in the soil. Healthy soil is teeming with beneficial life. Did you know that a teaspoon of healthy soil has more living organisms in it than the entire population of humans on Planet Earth! Just like us, all those buggers need oxygen to breathe.

Landfills don’t have enough oxygen for the little guys to live, so they can’t break down the organic waste properly. Instead, organic waste hangs out for a really long time. In some cases, it breaks down (or decomposes) through a different process that doesn’t use oxygen.

Fun Fact: Decomposition without oxygen is what makes our trash stink. It’s why food scraps in our trash make our kitchens smell. Organic waste in a well-managed compost pile actually smells sweet and Earthy. When we let nature recycle organic waste properly, it doesn’t smell gross at all!

Unfortunately, decomposition without oxygen releases methane, a greenhouse gas that causes climate change. Scientists don’t totally agree on exactly how bad methane is for our atmosphere, but the Environmental Protection Agency says it traps 25x more heat than carbon dioxide (the stuff we bemoan from our cars and power plants). In other words, methane is pretty bad.

Some communities send their waste to incinerators instead of landfills. But when the organic waste is burned, it also releases a lot of greenhouse gases, so that’s not much better.

Composting, on the other hand, transforms organic waste into soil nutrients, water, and a bit of carbon dioxide (that new plants suck right up). There’s some interesting chemistry behind all this jazz that you’ll love if you’re science nerds like us. If not, well… we figure that’s why you’re here. So we can take care of it for you!

Come Again… Why Is Composting So Important?

In short, composting organic waste reduces greenhouse gas emissions from landfills or incinerators, which helps alleviate climate change and makes the air we breathe healthier.

Composting also makes our soil healthier. Healthy soil produces healthier plants, helps clean our water supply, and draws down carbon from the atmosphere. Yep! You read that right. Composting helps ensure soil is a valuable carbon sink that actually reverses some aspects of climate change!

All in all, composting organic waste is one of the easiest things we can do to make our communities healthier places to live and help the planet too! This is our WHY! We want to make composting accessible to everyone. We hope that offering composting services to pick up your organic waste and education to learn more about composting will give you the confidence to make the switch and ensure your organic waste isn’t contributing to climate change in our landfills and incinerators.

We know organic waste pick-up service isn’t for everyone, but we sure hope that offering this service gives a whole lot of you an awesome option to compost your organic waste without all the work of managing the process yourselves. If you’re more of a DIY-er, definitely check out our resources to learn more about composting. Either way, say…

Hello Kitchen Compost. Goodbye Stinky Trash.

Got Questions? Email Us. We love to talk about composting, food waste, and all things related to healthy soil. #compostnerd

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