Composting can reduce our impact on the planet

by Jul 2, 2024blog

We create food waste every day. The largest amount of this waste is vegetable and fruit peels, grass, leaves, etc. If this waste is thrown into landfills, it will rot, and harmful gases (methane and carbon dioxide) are released, which are the main cause of global warming and climate change. But this waste can be used to obtain compost and then natural humus that can be used for planting other plants. In this way, it is possible to contribute to the reduction of the emission of these harmful gases. Food loss and waste generate an estimated 8-10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions while using land and water resources increasingly put pressure on biodiversity.
Composting is the oldest and most natural way of recycling organic matter. It is a decomposition process where the humification of organic matter goes all the way, resulting in a dark substance that looks and smells like humus. Composting is a process of biodegradation – controlled biological breakdown of the organic substances contained in the organic waste.
Composting as a human-driven process is accelerating the way nature recycles. What you end up with is compost. It is a biothermal method of breaking down organic substances into ingredients that are harmless to humans and the environment. The term compost comes from the Latin word „composituc“, which means complex or composed, and refers to a mixture of different organic waste materials that are decomposed into fertilizer under the action of oxygen and microorganisms. Compost is, above all, a high-quality organic fertilizer. It is a loose material of dark brown, dark gray or black color and with the appearance and smell of fertile soil, ie. hummus.
Compost is a partially decomposed form of organic matter obtained by enzymatic decomposition of plant material. Plant material means, first of all, the ligno-cellulosic substances that make up the plant tissue of all types of plants. Enzymes produce microorganisms that also do composting in natural ecosystems (bacteria, fungi...).
What can be composted?
The total biological waste generated in households (fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags, bread scraps), as well as garden and green waste (leaves, grass clippings, withered flowers), but also the bark of trees, paper, cardboard.
Such waste is not only generated in households, but also in fruit and vegetable processing factories, restaurants, hotels, public utility companies, schools with canteens, paper factories, florists, flower nurseries, etc.
What is not compostable?
Meat, fish, bones, leather, dairy products, oils and fats, remains of cooked food, colored paper, varnished and colored wood waste, tires, packaging, clothes, cigarettes, diseased plants, etc.
How to compost?
One plastic bin with a lid is required. For better aeration, it is necessary to make more holes/openings in the bin. A layer of dry twigs is arranged at the bottom of the bucket, for easier drainage of excess liquid. Then, a layer of crushed cardboard and dry leaves are placed on top of it. Moreover, a thin layer of soil is added, which is naturally rich in microorganisms (decomposers) that will start the composting process. The last layer is organic (biological) waste, which is best cut into small pieces, so that it decomposes faster. The bucket prepared in this way is left to stand for 5-10 days without stirring the contents, for the microorganisms to start the decomposition process.
After these 10 days, the contents should be stirred every 2-4 days. You will notice that the decomposition process has started if the compost bin starts to heat up, as compost naturally generates heat. If you notice that the material in the bin is cold to the touch, it is a sign of a lack of moisture. In that case, it is best to add water to the contents of the bucket.
The compost matures after 3 to 6 months, which should have a dark brown color and a uniform structure, in which the bio-waste cannot be recognized. Before its use, it is good to sift it, which will separate the larger parts that can be returned to the composting process.
Benefits of Composting!
Compost, when used correctly, saves money through reduced maintenance costs and ensures the sustainability of the process itself.
Compost helps prevent soil erosion!
It helps with stormwater management!
Promotes healthier plant growth!
Conserves water!
Reduces waste!
Fights against climate change!
Reduces project maintenance costs!
Improves soil health!
From the students of SSOU "Dimitrija Chupovski" Veles, North Macedonia