Composting: A Truly Sustainable Solution
Waste is a fact of life, and we are in the midst of a global waste and soil crisis. Organic waste recycling is a socially, environmentally and economically beneficial/responsible solution that addresses the three pillars of sustainability. The inseparable link between public and environmental health means that by helping the environment we are helping ourselves. Learn how the production and distribution of compost helps replenish our soil and protect our water and air.
Completes the natural cycle and returns nutrients and organic matter back to the soil.
Reduces waste going to landfills and incinerators and the associated environmental effects of these disposal methods.
Local facilities help reduce the financial costs and greenhouse gas emissions associated with transporting waste long distances.
Improves the chemical, biological and physical properties of soil.
Help provide local farms and communities with quality compost.
An invaluable resource:
Without soil the human race would not exist. If you look back in history the loss of top soil contributed to the fall of many civilizations. Soil supplies us with food, recycles nutrients for plants, purifies our water, stores carbon and protects us from flooding. While priceless, the natural services soil provides has been valued at 17 trillion dollars per year. Compost provides soil with the organic matter that is responsible for much of these environmental services. If you strip the soil of its organic matter, you diminish its ability to do all the things it does best.
Irresponsible agricultural practices in the Great Plains region during 1920's caused massive droughts and the the loss of topsoil from what was once some of the most fertile land in the entire world. Unfortunately we have not learned our lesson. Our modern agricultural system is reeking the havoc on our soil and causing the continued loss of fertile topsoil. Instead of taking care of the soil, we pump it full of artificial fertilizers and other chemicals that kill the soil microbes and fungi that we rely on to make new soil.
Improves soil structure to prevent Flooding
Compost provides much needed organic matter to soil. Without organic matter, soil becomes compacted and cannot absorb water. When water cannot be absorbed into the ground it becomes run-off and causes flooding. Soil can become damage for many reasons, but mixing in compost adds organic matter to "fluff-up" your soil, improves its structure and its ability to absorb and hold water.
Increases Nutrient availability to plants
Chemical fertilizers are expensive, damaging to your soil, and only provide a limited number of nutrients to your plants. Compost provides a wide array of both fast-acting nutrients and continues to provide your plants with nutrients though out the growing season at the rate your plants need them. This means you can spend less money feeding your plants and provide them with real plant-food, the way nature intended.
Improves soil Biology
Healthy soil is more than just "dirt"-- it is a thriving ecosystem filled with beneficial microorganisms. These microorganisms include bacteria, algae, fungi, and protozoa. These organisms are responsible for: decomposing organic matter; replenishing soil nutrients; forming humus; promoting root growth; increase nutrient uptake; and breaking down certain herbicides and pesticides. Quality compost will help replenish your soil with the organisms are essential to keeping your soil alive and healthy.
REDUCING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO CLIMATE CHANGE:
Composting organic waste prevents the release of greenhouse gasses (GHG) that are associated with landfills and incinerator use. Reducing the amount of waste going to incineration reduces the amount of CO2 (carbon dioxide) emitted when waste is burned. In addition to CO2, burning waste releases particulate matter into the air that contributes to smog, acid rain and upper respiratory conditions like asthma.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), organic materials in landfills are the third largest source of methane emissions in this country. Landfill gas, or LFG, is typically 50% methane and 50% carbon dioxide. These greenhouse gasses are produced in landfills when they decompose anaerobically, in the absence of oxygen. Composting does just the opposite-- it decomposes organic material aerobically, in the presence of oxygen, and prevents the carbon from becoming greenhouse gasses by turning it into the stuff we call "compost".
Reducing nutrient runoff:
When it rains, the runoff washes away nutrients from artificial fertilizers and make their way into our ponds, lakes and oceans. The abnormal increase in nutrients causes an excessive algae growth, commonly referred to as an "algal bloom." When the algae has used up the nutrients in the water and die, the oxygen breathing decomposers go to work. This ultimately result in the depletion of available oxygen in the water, making it unable to support the ecosystem that had previously lived their. This process is called "eutrophication".
Algae blooms are not only unsightly, but the resulting eutrophication has detrimental effects on the ecosystem and the people who rely on it for their livelihood. We can reduce nutrient run-off from landscape and agricultural applications through by using compost instead of artificial fertilizers. The nutrients in compost will not wash away in water like fertilizers and your plants will benefit all season long from only one or two applications.
Landfills are a serious source of water pollution in our country. A swill and slurry of what can be described as "garbage juice" called "leachate" builds up in landfills over time. Though measures are taken to prevent leakage, no landfill is perfect. Leachate contaminates our ground water and aquifers with heavy metals, toxic chemicals and excess nutrients. Reducing the amount of organic waste going to landfills reduces the excess nutrient component in leachate.