Did you know that composting can transform your trash into new life? And that new life, in the form of microbes, fungi, earthworms, and more, provides the foundation for much of all other healthy life on Earth.
Composting is a great way to create healthy soil to support our people and our planet. Healthy soil is also a magical carbon sink that absorbs carbon from our atmosphere and helps cool the planet. While dead dirt has few living organisms, a teaspoon of healthy soil has more living organisms in it than the entire population of humans on Planet Earth!(1)
We need the world to compost!
Don’t think you can compost? We’ve got a whole set of resources on Everything To Know About Composting At Home, including more You Can Make Dirt interviews. All of this information about composting at home will hopefully prove that just about anyone can make space and find a system to turn their food scraps into nutrient-rich compost to enrich our soil, feed our food cycle, and limit the food waste that ends up in landfills.
This series highlights families in various circumstances who have all found a way that composting works for their lifestyle. Hopefully, you can be inspired to give it a go and help our planet stay a little healthier.
Today, I’ve got another interview about composting, and I’m totally pumped about it. You may have heard of Kathryn Kellogg, one of the leading voices in the zero waste community. She’s experimented with a few different types of composting.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you live, your family, etc.. the Kathryn 101?
I’m the founder of a little blog called Going Zero Waste and I’m the spokesperson for plastic free living for National Geographic after their June Issue released Planet or Plastic. I’m also a forth coming author, and you can pre-order my book 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste. I officially started living a zero waste lifestyle three years ago. I live in the Bay Area, California with my husband and dog.
Tell us a little bit about why you decided to start composting?
Composting is one of the most important things you can do for the environment. Food scraps don’t break down in the landfill because they aren’t aerated properly. Instead, they sit in this mummified state releasing methane which is 30x more powerful than CO2. In fact, 16% of all methane emissions in the US come from landfills! This is one easy swap that adds up to a massive impact.
What methods of composting do you use or have you used?
Now, to be perfectly honest, I am a really BAD composter. But, it’s better to be bad at composting than not compost at all. I have used a lot of different methods, but am proud to say I have never once sent scraps to the landfill. Like most zero waste lifestyle choices, sometimes you have to think outside of the box.
1. The Worm Bin: I used a worm bin 360 and unfortunately sent 2,000 worms to worm heaven *may they rest in peace* the first time I didn’t water the worms enough. The second time they were doing so well until an unexpected heat wave came and fried them. I’m so sorry worms.
2. Pre-Composting: I still participate in pre-composting. If you go to the farmers market and know that you won’t be using ends and stems, I hand them right to the farmer because most of the time they take those scraps back to the farm to compost. Just ask!
3. Friends: During my worm bin failures, I would often bring my compost to friends with established composting programs. It worked like a charm!
4. Standing Bin: My city subsidizes standing compost bins because we don’t have a municipal compost pick up. I have started the standing bin and I love it! It’s not perfect, but it’s really, really easy.
5. Trench Composting: When my worm bin went south, I dug a 2ft deep trench in the back yard and buried all of my scraps.
6. Curbside Pick up: As of two months ago, I finally, FINALLY, have access to curbside composting. It’s amazing. Now I put my compost scraps in a little wheelie bin and someone takes care of all the hard work for me.
How do you store the scraps until they are picked up?
I have always stored my scraps in a bowl in the freezer.
Do you have any special tools, containers, or products that help make composting easier or more accessible for you?
Not really. Just a healthy dose of perseverance.
How does your significant other feel about composting? Are they on board or does it feel like more of a grind getting them to follow suit?
I do the majority of the cooking so it’s been my responsibility to handle the food scraps. My husband really doesn’t have an opinion. If I ask him to take things out to the compost, he’s on it!
Anything else you’d like to share with readers about your composting practices, especially to help beginners gain confidence that they too can compost?
If you don’t have access to a composting service my recommendation would be a two-slot tumble bin. I know, it’s the only one I didn’t try, but I think it’s the easiest to handle and maintain.
Where else can we find you and learn more about what you’re up to?
(1) According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the United States Department of Agriculture.