Thursday, May 15, 2008

Compostable Materials

Here is a basic list of what you can add to your composter or vermicomposter. When you compost, you are decomposing organic biodegradable matter - keep this in mind when deciding whether something should go in your compost bin or not. You want a good balance between adding materials that are considered 'green' (break down quickly, high in nitrogen) and 'brown' (dryer, tougher, high in carbon).

-any vegetable & fruit material you can think of - maybe produced from preparing your meals or might have gone bad prior to you being able to eat it. If vermicomposting, beware of adding too much matter from the onion and citrus families, as many worms don't like these items as much as others.
-egg shells
-tea bags
-coffee grounds
-plant and grass clippings/trimmings


-dried/dead plants stems and flowers
-dry straw and hay
-paper towels (depends on what they soaked up, see below)

Things to avoid putting in a small scale composter:
-fats & oils
-prepared foods
-pet waste
Not only do these items not break down as easily, they can also attract unwanted rodents and animals to your composter.

Composting really gets you thinking about your diet and what you're eating daily. It motivates me to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables as anything not used from them can be composted. Natural packaging, for a example a banana peel, orange peels and melon rinds can be converted into useful compost for the garden instead of entering a landfill via a tightly closed plastic garbage bag. It's really an empowering process. If you have a backyard it's easy to get a composter for your home. If you don't and your community doesn't, talk to neighbors and organizations to try to start one up. What a great way for a neighborhood to reduce its waste, come together, and produce useful compost for gardens in the community.

I am continuing to use my community composter in the nearby park as well as my worm composter on my balcony. I am using the container in the photo above to store food scraps in until I empty them into the composter. I keep it next to the kitchen garbage under the sink and access it easily when preparing meals. It serves as a good visual reminder of the amount of matter I am diverting from the waste stream. The lid can screw on so there are no fruit flies or odours.

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