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Composting reduces waste and saves money

Posted: January 5, 2014 - 12:00am
Roger Davis shreds and composts his leaves for good mulch in the spring.  Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Roger Davis shreds and composts his leaves for good mulch in the spring.

It’s out with the old and in with the new with the passing of 2013 and the ringing in of 2014. For some, the New Year brings the determination to implement the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” motto into more aspects of life. Composting is one way to live a greener life.

Composting is all about turning material that would otherwise be trashed into a usable product.

“Compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow,” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency explains on their Web site. “Food scraps and yard waste currently make up 20 to 30 percent of what we throw away, and should be composted instead. Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas.”

Composting requires three basic “ingredients” – browns, greens and water.

Browns includes dead leaves, branches and twigs, while greens refers to grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps and coffee grounds.

Martinez resident Roger Davis has been composting for years. Just about the only thing his family doesn’t add to the compost bin is meat products.

“We shred mail and papers and add that as well,” said Davis, who has an indoor compost bin for kitchen waste.

Composting is rapidly increasing in the United States as landfill space becomes scarce and expensive and as people realize the impact they have on the environment. It is estimated that composting will be as commonplace as recycling aluminum cans in coming years.

Compost has proven to enrich the soil, help retain moisture and keep plant diseases and pests at bay. It also reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and keeps methane emissions from landfills. Composting can lead to money savings, conservation of natural resources and a reduction in waste.

“Why do we compost?” asked Davis. “Have you ever been to the landfill? I never have to buy potting soil; I don’t have to put waste on the street until it’s picked up and it’s fun. It is amazing how large the pile is when I start and how much it is reduced when it is finished. I am a landscape architect and it is the responsible thing to do.”

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