Composting: The Original Garbage Disposal

Brett Freeman

Over the years, composting has largely been seen as the province of rural dwellers. To be sure, a large, steaming compost heap might not endear you to your neighbors if you live in the suburbs, but that image doesn't represent the reality of composting as it has evolved in more densely populated areas. Modern composters can be tucked under the deck, in the garage or basement, or even in a kitchen cabinet, and allow you to easily turn organic waste into a a boon for your yard and garden.

Why You Should Compost

Reduced to its basics, composting lets nature take its course. It is the process of decomposition that occurs naturally when different types of organic matter ("browns," such as a dead leaves and twigs, "greens," such as fruit and vegetable scraps and coffee grounds, and "water," such as...water) are mixed together.

The compost that results is a valuable soil amendment for several reasons. It is rich in nutrients, it helps the soil retain moisture, and it can treat or even eliminate pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), heavy metals, and pesticides. The composting process can also remove VOCs from the atmosphere.
By contrast, organic waste that is dumped down a garbage disposal ends up at wastewater (aka "sewage") treatment plants. This increases the amount of energy and water required to treat the waste water, and doesn't yield a beneficial byproduct like compost. Organic matter that is thrown away ends up unnecessarily taking up space in a landfill, where, because it is exposed to very little light or oxygen, it decomposes very slowly.

Giving Nature a Boost
Composters not only allow you to mix "browns," "greens," and "water" in the correct ratio for ideal composting, most also have mechanisms that help maintain high levels of oxygen, which greatly hastens the composting process. It also reduces the amount of labor involved. No longer do you need to use a shovel or pitchfork to oxygenate the compost. Some use drums that you rotate by crank every week or two. The latest trend--composters that can be built into your kitchen cabinets, similar to slide-out garbage cans--are virtually labor-free, using low-voltage fans to expedite the composting process.

No Reason Not To Compost
Composting has become neat, easy, and convenient. With low- and no-labor composters that can be installed in your kitchen, garage, or back porch, recycling organic waste is now as easy as recycling cans and bottles. So why wouldn't you do it?

Brett Freeman
Brett Freeman is a freelance journalist. He also owns a landscaping and irrigation company in North Carolina. Previously he has worked as a beat reporter, a teacher, and for a home improvement company, and he used to own a bar/live music venue.

About the Author
Brett Freeman is a freelance journalist. He also owns a landscaping and irrigation company in North Carolina. Previously he has worked as a beat reporter, a teacher, and for a home improvement company, and he used to own a bar/live music venue.


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