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Got Soil? Celebrate Compost!

Got Soil? Celebrate Compost!

This is International Compost Awareness Week, a global effort by the composting industry to increase acceptance of a truly elegant process that reduces waste going to landfill, enriches gardens and farms, and sequesters carbon emissions. 

Some 300 U.S. cities and universities have started collecting food scraps for composting in the last four years, but there is much more composting to be done. According to the EPA, “Yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 26 percent of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream.” Natural composting has been around since the first plants took root: as dead vegetation decays, it provides minerals and nutrients that benefit the plants, animals and microorganisms. Mature compost uses high temperatures to destroy pathogens and weed seeds that natural decomposition does not destroy.

There are multiple benefits to composting, including:

  • Healthier Water: Using compost instead of chemical fertilizers keeps chemicals out of groundwater and wells, and helps soils retain rainwater.
  • Healthier Soil: Compost promotes healthy microbial activity and also improves soil structure to prevent erosion.
  • Healthier Plants: Compost-grown plants are nutrient-rich.

Growing Great Wine

Residential composting programs are slowly gaining acceptance in the U.S., with some tasty results. The city of San Francisco started its composting program with a small pilot project in 1996; residential composting was mandated by the city council in 2009. Since the program’s beginning, 907,000 tons of food scraps and garden “waste” has been separated from garbage that was bound for the landfill. The city now generates 95,000 cubic yards of finished compost a year, 95% of which goes to nurturing the soil in nearby Wine Country. While contributing to some fine winemaking, San Franciscans’ compost program is also key to offsetting the City’s carbon emissions: employee-owned garbage and recycling company Recology calculates that since inception the compost program has created a total CO2 Equivalent benefit (a calculation of methane avoided and carbon sequestered) of 354,600 metric tons.

Take action

  • Homeowners can take composting into their own hands, with garden compost piles or worm bins. 
  • If curbside composting is offered in your area, be sure to participate and encourage your neighbors.
  • If curbside composting is not offered where you live, ask your local government and waste management company why not.
  • For details on composting regulations in your state, go to this interactive map on the EPA website.

 

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Photo by Larry Strong, courtesy of Recology

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55 comments

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8:56PM PDT on Apr 22, 2013

Composting is good

9:37AM PDT on Jul 23, 2012

Grazie per l'articolo.

9:37AM PDT on Jul 23, 2012

Grazie per l'articolo.

10:52AM PDT on May 9, 2012

It is so easy. You can make a big deal out of it or you can do it simply. The end result of both is you enrich the soil. I was thrilled when San Fran started their program with accompanying laws requiring their citizens to participate. It is what everyone will do eventually. I have composted since 74' in every home I've lived in. My home now in SC started with horrible fill dirt as soil. Now there is about 6" of top soil in the whole very large yard and deeper in some places. This is all from composted materials - and 30+ years of doing it.

1:32PM PDT on Jul 4, 2011

Thank you for the note!!!

6:36PM PDT on May 13, 2011

Thanks for the article.

5:09AM PDT on May 7, 2011

THANKS 2 INFORM

7:47PM PDT on May 6, 2011

thanks for sharing.

3:25PM PDT on May 6, 2011

My wife and I have been composting for decades. When she worked, she would bring home compostable material from her office.

2:37PM PDT on May 6, 2011

Good work. thank you

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Colleen H. Colleen H. is an Online Campaigner with Care2 and a recent transplant to San Francisco from the East... more
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