I consider myself a pretty good gardener, a common sense "greenie," and a person who does her best to reduce, reuse and recycle.
But, there is something I must admit. For years now, I've resisted composting. It just seemed a bit too difficult and bit too time-consuming. That has all changed. And, if I can make it work, you can too. Let me help you Do Your Part to keep food scraps out of the garbage and turn them into something quite valuable.
Sitting on my kitchen counter right now is a cute, white composting pail I received from a good friend for Christmas. It has become one of my all-time favorite presents although the thoughtful gift giver doesn't believe me. Anyway, having this pail right near the kitchen sink makes it downright difficult for me to "justify" scraping plates off in the trash or into the disposal.
Here is the thing. Those little bits of food we so easily trash ultimately account for about a third of the garbage we send to the landfill. This is not only wasteful; it's also bad for the planet. When bacteria in the landfill eat this type of organic waste, methane is produced, which is a powerful climate-altering, greenhouse gas.
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Composting your food scraps should not be complicated. In fact, over-thinking the process has been my problem in the past. And there isn't only one way to make compost. You can designate a corner of your yard to a compost pile, you can buy a compost bin (available in a multitude of shapes and sizes), or you can even find electric units, which turn out a batch of compost every three weeks or so. Pick the system that's best for you and you're on your way to whipping up nutritious food for your plants and garden. And the best part is that this newly made fertilizer is absolutely free!
The key to any good composting system is to keep a balance of green and brown. Green waste is rich in nitrogen and can include most of your food waste and lawn clippings. The brown is carbon-rich items like branches, dried leaves, coffee filters, eggshells, or sawdust. It's important to remember to have a little more carbon than nitrogen. Every so often, give it a stir to help the decomposition process. The one thing you don't want to do is put meat or dairy products in an outdoor compost pile because it could attract animals.
You'll find a quick video to help you get started at DoYourPart.com/Columns.
When the compost is ready, use it to feed your garden plants, lawn, shrubs and trees. And, as you're spreading it all out, you will Do Your Part to keep all that food waste from truly going to waste.
* Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, author and founder of DoYourPart, everyday green living ideas that are better for you and the planet. Send questions to terridoyourpart.com and follow DoYourPart on Facebook and Twitter.