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Composting Isn’t Exciting, But It is Now More Interesting!

Updated: Sep 3, 2022

A Little Lesson in Composting

A pile of food waste and solid scraps
Food Waste Scraps (medium by JC)

As I wrote in an earlier article, we don’t do enough to reduce the amount of waste thrown into our landfills. Facts like the following highlight the growing issues humanity are facing today:

  • On average, each of us produces 4.4 pounds of solid waste each day.

  • We generate 21.5 million tons of food waste each year.

Recycling is one way to reduce our carbon footprint, but composting is another one I did not know enough about. It is, for this reason, I went to school (figuratively)and learned the following from the National Resources Defense Council at

Composting is the natural process of recycling organic matter, such as leaves and food scraps, into a valuable fertilizer that can enrich soil and plants. Anything that grows decomposes eventually; composting simply speeds up the process by providing an ideal environment for bacteria, fungi, and other decomposing organisms (such as worms, sowbugs, and nematodes) to do their work. The resulting decomposed matter, which often looks like fertile garden soil, is called compost. Fondly referred to by farmers as “black gold,” compost is rich in nutrients and can be used for gardening, horticulture, and agriculture.

So how do we change this mess-

A pile of food waiting to be tossed into a landfill.
Food Scraps (medium by JC)

Into this?

A handful of black, fertile soil.
Typical Soil (medium by jC)

Although there are large-scale, commercial facilities to perform composting tasks, my main focus for this article will be home composting, of which there are 3-types.

A large continuous composter to be placed in one's backyard.
Continuous Composter (medium by JC)

Continuous- Think of continuous composters as those bins or devices created to be used over long periods. These enclosed bins are meant to handle a variety of materials, including kitchen scraps and yard waste accumulated. The top lid can be raised and you throw the prospective waste materials. Expect the accumulations to filter from the top of the bin to the bottom, and the resulting compost is taken out a couple of times a year. This sealed system will ensure no pests can enter from the outside. Ideal For: People who want a place to toss kitchen scraps, lawn clippings, and other yard waste. There are methods to hasten the process but expect composting in this manner to take several months, if not longer.

A large black tumbling batch composter.
Batch Composter (medium by JC)

Batch- While continuous composters may take several months, expect batch composters to take several weeks. The tumbling action turns these composters into more efficient compost machines on turbo. The tumblers are generally black in color to attract the power of the sun. The heating/cooking process accelerates the composting results and within 4 to 8 weeks you have your ‘Batch”. You must tumble or turn these daily while also checking the internal moisture content. Done in batch increments, you need to start accumulating items for the next batch until the current batch is completed. Potentially you could run this in conjunction with a continuous composter. Ideal For: These are made to be more hands-on. Expect to tumble these daily, but see compost results much quicker.

A self contained indoor composter meant for kitchen countertop.
Indoor Composter (medium by JC)

Indoor- A much smaller scale than the continuous and batch composters detailed above. As the name suggests, you are doing the composting indoors, generally within one's own home. Expect to find composters designed for in-home use when seeking out this option. Remember- odor becomes the number one concern regarding those items decomposing. Worm bins also fall under this category. Ideal for: People looking to compost on a much smaller scale. (Let’s be honest, not everyone has a backyard they can put a larger Batch or Continuous composter in). This unit generally focuses on those wasted/leftover foods usually thrown out in the trash or down the garbage disposal. Great for young and highly finicky children.

Important Notes:

Nitrogen and Carbon combined with air and water create the perfect environment to turn our scraps and waste into fertile soil. A mix of leaves, and cardboard(Carbon), with food scraps and lawn clippings (Nitrogen), air and water will hasten the composting experience. Do your best to add each of these and the composting will be more complete and more efficient.

Composting not only cuts down on landfill waste, but also creates fertile soil for gardens, lawns, and plants.

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