Yard and food waste take up a good chunk of our landfills. Fortunately, we can reduce this amount by composting these materials and recycling back into the ground.
Composting is a natural form of recycling. During this process, bacteria, fungi and other organisms decompose organic materials. Organic materials include leaves, grass clippings, and vegetable and fruit scraps.
Composting has many environmental benefits. It reduces the amount of chemical fertilizers needed by adding plant nutrients to the soil. It improves soil drainage and helps hold soil particles together. Composting also reduces the amount of wastes dumped into landfills.
Instead of throwing organic wastes in the trash, dump them in a composting bin. These bins are fairly inexpensive and simple to build, and you can make them from materials including chicken wire, wooden boards or wood pallets. A metal garbage can with a lid or a 55-gallon barrel also make great composting bins, but be sure they were not previously used for toxic materials. More information on different types of bins is available at http://www.ca.uky.edu/enri/compost.php.
You can add many common household wastes to your compost bin including grass clippings, fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds with filters, eggshells, tea bags and shredded newspapers. Despite all the items used for compost, some items including meat scraps, dairy products and animal and human waste should not be composted because they can attract rodents, transmit diseases and/or create odor problems.
Factors including the type of bin, items in the bin, weather and whether or not you turn your bin will determine how long the process takes to make finished compost. Finished compost has about half of its original volume, is dark-brown or black and smells earthy. Once the process is finished, you can apply it to your lawn or mix it with soil in your garden.
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