Composting 101

You’ve probably heard the hype around composting as an environmentally sound practice. However, you may not be clear as to what difference it makes whether your egg shells and onion peels go into a trash bin with other waste or a completely separate bin. It’s a good question, and the answer is important. I’ve taken the time to address this and other common questions about composting. I promise it is SUPER simple and packs a MAJOR, positive environmental punch.

WHY TO COMPOST: When organic matter and food waste are dumped into landfills with other, non-biodegradable waste they end up rotting underground and producing methane gas, a greenhouse gas which is MANY times more potent and damaging than carbon dioxide. Also, food waste makes up about 1/3 of all human waste, so reducing this waste will reduce space in landfill needed for other waste as well as reduce the energy and resources needed to haul it around! Finally, composting creates magical fertilizer food for plants, and I don’t need to tell you why plants are so great, right?

WHAT TO COMPOST: The list of things you can compost might surprise you. For beginners, any food scraps with the exception of meat, dairy and fat/oil. That leaves things like egg shells, coffee grounds, fruit and veggie scraps, etc. Non-food items you can compost include tea bags, coffee filters, hair and fur, cotton and wool rags, shredded paper, wood chips and plant trimmings.

HOW TO COMPOST: All you need is a medium-size container with a tight fitting lid that fits under your sink or on your kitchen counter - like this one from Thrive Market or this one from Etsy that hooks up under your sink and out of site! If you’re really concerned about the smell you can do as my sister does in her one-bedroom LA apartment and store your container in the freezer. Whenever you have food scraps and other compostable waste, simply toss it in there to keep it separate from your other trash.

WHERE TO COMPOST: This will vary by city, but only takes a little online research to find a place nearby where you can dump your compost. This could mean visiting a community garden or other designated compost collection site. Check out these resources for Chicago, NYC and Los Angeles for example. If you live in a magical place like Seattle, it’s as easy as putting your compost bin on the sidewalk with your other weekly trash and recycling for city collection.