Composting 101: How and Why to do it
Being increasingly aware of the fragility of the world, there is currently more emphasis being placed on employing green practices and recycling. Composting is a simple yet highly effective way of recycling organic waste. Compost puts nutrients, normally lost to landfill, back into the soil where it belongs. We feel justly proud to be supporting this mindset of reducing waste to landfill with our range of compostable and biodegradable packaging.
What is composting?
Composting is a natural process whereby microbes and other living organisms in the soil convert organic plant matter into a highly nutritious material known as humus or compost. Humus enriches the soil and loads it with nutrients which are essential for healthy plant growth. Gardeners and farmers have relied on these natural processes for centuries to ensure healthy crops and beautiful flowers.
Compost also improves the quality of the soil by adding organic matter that makes the soil more friable and ‘root-friendly’. It is particularly useful in sandy soils that don’t hold nutrients and water well. Humus is also a wonderful addition to heavy clay soil because it makes it lighter and provides aeration which promotes drainage
Compost is a great and inexpensive soil supplement that any home gardener can create out of waste ingredients that are plentiful in any garden and household.
What home composting options are available?
Here are some of the various options available to the home composter:
You can start with a really simple wire composting ‘box’, that is literally just a wire enclosure that you put all your compostable material into.
Simple homemade compost bin – Image credit
You can also have a more structured arrangement whereby you have three sturdy structures alongside each other, preferably with removable fronts for easy access. You start your fresh compost in the first box, then move it across to the second box as it starts maturing, and then finally the third division is for your ready-to-use compost.
There are also various commercial composting bins and containers that you can use. You can even contrive your own composting bin from any large plastic container with a little bit of Internet research and ingenuity.
Composting bin – Image credit
Sheet composting is also another option. You simply spread your fresh materials over the ground, leave it to decompose right there, then plant your bed on top. You can also dig a pit or a trench that you fill with the organic material and leave to mature. Or you can have a simple three heap compost system - one heap being built, one maturing undisturbed and a third that is the mature compost that you use.
The many benefits of composting
The benefits of composting are astonishing. It can change a struggling garden into a verdant oasis with minimal cost and just a little bit of effort. Here are some of its benefits:
- It cuts down on the amount of organic material that goes onto rubbish tips and landfills.
- It provides your plants with the nutrients that they need to thrive and resist disease.
- It saves fuel and energy by reducing the amount of waste that has to be transported to rubbish tips.
- It adds valuable nutrients to the soil, which lessens the need for commercial fertilizers and/or pesticides.
- It helps combat erosion by improving the soil’s ability to lock in moisture, thus reducing water run-off.
- It helps to lock in carbon and helps to remove carbon from the atmosphere by speeding up plant growth.
- It will save you money as you spend less on commercial fertilizers and start buying less fresh produce as you grow your own.
- It will make you happy! Composting is deeply satisfying as you see results in your garden and realise you’re wasting less and helping the environment.
What materials can be composted?
A large variety of organic materials can be composted:
- Almost anything from your garden - leaves, spent flowers, shrubs trimmings, grass clippings.
- Manure from horse, cattle, sheep and poultry is very good on a compost heap.
- Any non-animal food scraps like vegetable peelings, fruits, vegetables, bread, cereal, tea leaves/bags, and coffee grounds.
- Shredded newspaper, cardboard, (no glossy or plasticised papers), paper bags and egg cartons.
- Wood chips, sawdust, nut shells, wood ash.
- Dried-out foodstuffs like pasta, cereal and dry cat and dog food
Never put pet droppings or animal products like butter, milk, meat or fish skins in your compost.
Here we also have to mention that there is a difference between biodegradable packaging and compostable packaging. Biodegradable packaging will break down naturally in time. Compostable packaging will break down best under composting conditions.
Our CPLA (Crystalised Polylactic Acid) and Bagasse packaging, like our cold cups, deli containers, and Takeaway products, are made from renewable sugarcane or corn starch. These products will break down in your home composter within 6 – 12 months. Though our PET (polyethylene terephthalate) products aren’t compostable, they are fully recyclable.
Take a look at our full range of exciting compostable packaging, tableware and cutlery on our store here.