Several years ago, the State of Connecticut adopted the goal of diverting 58% of garbage entering our landfills by 2024. Currently Simsbury (my town) has a good single stream recycling program that diverts 24% of waste. However, the numbers have not changed much since the initial implementation of single stream recycling. It’s estimated that 14% of waste entering the landfills is generated by food scraps. That is 14% we can use to better our own personal land and gardens in an easy and efficient way! How?? COMPOSTING!
I learned about composting many years ago from my aunt. She composted, saw the value, and always continued it. Watching her helped me to not only see the personal value but the environmental value as well. For the past 5+ years I have implemented a home composting system, and I love it. I know there are a lot of skeptics who may think it’s difficult, or smelly, but it really is an easy project that has an important impact. I’ll even start you off with some easy tips and insights!
When composting, you ideally want a ratio of 1/3 greens to 2/3 browns. Combined with air, water and heat, a beautiful compost will be created.
- Browns: Include dried leaves (we have plenty now in New England!) hay, straw, and woody materials such as wood chips, sawdust or branches and twigs.
- Greens: Include fresh grass and plants, fruit and veggie scraps, and cow or horse manure (ewww…I leave that out of mine!) (No meat or dairy scraps – but yes to cardboard)
- Personally, my compost during the winter is comprised of all greens. We try to keep all our scraps out of the garbage and work on finding the right green/brown mix once its nicer outside and we want to be working out there. But don’t let the winter dissuade you. I find it to be the perfect time of year to start because the freezing and then thawing in the spring will help with the cell breakdown of all the food scraps.
If you’re a newbie and just starting out, you don’t need to splurge on a professional expensive purchased composter. A metal can with holes drilled in bottom and sides to let bugs/air in is more than enough to start. Home Depot sells these metal cans (pictured above) for ~$10 or better yet, I got mine off Simsbury Neighbors Helping Neighbors Facebook Group – saving it from a landfill! However if you prefer to not be bothered with the maintaining of the compost, but still want to keep it out of the garbage stream, you can always collect at home and bring it off-site to be composted. Currently, Northwest park in Granby offers a compost collection program, and it is definitely worth looking into!
For collection inside our home we keep a small ceramic compost keeper under our kitchen sink. We will fill it up for about 3 days or so and then send it outside. I have had this container for four years now and am amazed that there is never a smell, you wouldn’t even know it was there! This comes highly recommended:
The best part of composting is the help, little ones LOVE it! My daughter loves putting on her boots and carrying compost items out. I normally make a smaller plate/pile for her to dump in so she can manage it. It’s great to see her so excited to be involved. It’s all about making the chores small, manageable and fun.
If you choose to keep your compost to collect and work it throughout the year, you’ll end up with amazing and FREE fertilizer for your garden! We use organic fruit/produce so we have organic compost -it doesn’t get much better than that. Plus, you can even add in some Starbucks grounds for your garden (free at many local stores) and you have it made!
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