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.
Just because we want to try composting doesn’t mean we have to be perfect and can never take a break. Reducing our waste and replenishing soil with composted nutrients some of the time is far better than doing it never. If the science is overwhelming or entirely uninteresting, just let your compost rot.
Stephanie knows she doesn’t have to do everything ‘by the book’ and doing her best in a way that works for her life is a great way to participate in the composting movement. Let’s hear more from Stephanie.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you live, your family, etc.. the Stephanie 101?
My husband and I (and our dog, Chili!) live in coastal Rhode Island. We’ve lived here for about ten years. But, we are relocating to Southern California in the next few months. Yikes!
Tell us a little bit about why you decided to starting composting?
I started composting because I felt really guilty throwing away food waste. I just didn’t like the idea that it would sit in a landfill when it could actually be useful to someone, or at least just return to the earth.
What method or methods of composting have you used?
I know a lot of people get really involved in the science of composting – adding certain nutrients or chemicals to help enrich the compost or encourage it to break down more quickly. Even adding urine! I am not one of those people. I literally toss my food waste into the bin and give it a good shake. In the past I’ve made the mistake of not adding enough “brown” bits to my compost, so I’m a bit more diligent about ensuring there are enough leaves and yard refuse in the mix.
Are you consistent about composting? If not, how often do you do it and what drives when you do and when you don’t?
Ugh. Since moving to our new home I have not been consistent about composting.
At our last house, I had a few raised garden beds and had use for my compost. Since moving to our new home, we’ve had to do so much work to our yard for various reasons so I haven’t had the opportunity to plant a vegetable garden.
My community does not have compost pick up, so I initially wasn’t really sure of what to do with it. It sometimes causes me stress, because I hate throwing food waste in the trash. When I’m not composting, I sometimes I toss apple cores or other fruits and veggies out the kitchen window into the yard for the birds and critters to munch on. This drives my husband nuts. But, happily, I’ve been back into my composting routine, and I’ll give my finished compost to my friends who garden. I am looking for any local farms or schools who could use it as well.
Do you have any special tools, containers, or products that help make composting easier or more accessible for you?
I have a container that I keep under the kitchen sink so I don’t have to run out to the compost bin every time I’m preparing food. It has a charcoal filter to absorb any odor. The container is especially useful in the winter when it’s snowing and freezing cold and I don’t feel like going outside.
My outdoor compost container is a rotating drum. Although, when we relocate to California I might try to build my own container or start an exposed pile in the yard. I suppose it all depends on what my yard looks like.
How does your significant other feel about composting? Is he on board or does it feel like more of a grind getting them to follow suit?
He participates, but I definitely have to remind him.
Have you experienced any benefits from composting, especially ones that might have surprised you?
It has made me more aware of what I’m consuming and what is going to waste. The decision to compost is an intentional one – even the mere act of putting food waste into the storage container and then transferring it to the compost bin has made me more mindful of how and what I consume.
It’s easy to get into the rhythm of preparing dinner, chopping vegetables and mindlessly tossing the odds and ends directly into the trash. Composting has helped me think more about how I buy my produce to minimize spoilage, and has encouraged me to use the bits of vegetables I would have typically discarded. I do not know why, for so many years, I discarded beet tops. They’re delicious!
It also helps with the fruit fly problem we have in the summer. I definitely notice that when I am consistently putting food waste in the compost, we don’t have fruit flies. When I toss food into the trash, it’s fruit fly city.
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.