What to Compost: Everything You Need to Know
Yesterday I asked my Instagram followers what they wanted to know more about, and how I could help them. A lot of the responses were related to composting. A few of the common questions were; “What to compost,” or “What’s the difference between biodegradable and compostable?”
So I did a bit of research (because let’s face it, I don’t have all of the answers) and found everything you’ll need to know about composting. Let’s dive into three of the most common questions I got asked about composting.
Looking for a quick answer? Click what you want to know
- How composting helps the environment
- Compost infographic (what you can and can't compost)
- Biodegradable vs compostable
How knowing what to compost helps the environment
Have you ever wondered why composting is good for the environment? A lot of people do it, almost everyone will tell you it helps the environment, but how does composting actually help the earth?
Why you shouldn’t put compostable organics in the trash
For one, composting helps the environment because the food scraps don’t go to the landfill. When organics break down in a landfill, there isn’t enough oxygen for the organics to properly decompose. They undergo something called anaerobic decomposition, this pretty much means there isn’t enough oxygen so microorganisms break down the organics and release methane.
Methane contributes to climate change because when released into the atmosphere, it traps about 30 times more heat than CO2 does. So it's pretty important to put organics in a compost pile and not the landfill!
What composting organics does to help the environment
We’ve all heard that composting is good for the environment, but what does that mean? Exactly how does compost aid the environment? Composting is the whole package; it reduces and sometimes eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers, more abundant crops grow when compost is the fertilizer, composting can help kill off chemicals that are both in the air and ground, and create a healthy fertile soil in its place.
Composting should be our best friend. But in order for that to happen, we need to know exactly what we can and cannot compost.
What to compost
There seems to be so many rules for what to compost. If you're trying to be environmentally conscious and use the organics bin, sometimes you end up hurting the environment by composting the wrong material.
That's why I created this awesome infographic, it's pretty much a cheat sheet on what to compost.
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*UPDATE: dryer lint is only compostable if your clothes are made from 100% natural fibres
The reason there's a section for composting with caution and skill is because some of those materials can attract animals (like milk, cheese and yogurt). Other materials need hot weather to decompose properly, such as diseased plants and sod. And some materials require skill to compost because adding the material could contribute too much alkalinity.
Now that we know what to, and what not to compost, let's find out the answers to questions related to composting.
Biodegradable vs Compostable
Have you seen products or maybe even packaging that claims to be compostable? How is that different than biodegradable? Products (or packaging) that claims to be biodegradable means that microorganisms can break it down and it will degrade into soil. Products that claim to be compostable can be broken down by microorganisms as well, the difference is compostable products will add nutrients to the soil.
So biodegradable products biodegrade into a neutral substance for soil, and compostable products biodegrade and add nutrients to soil.
Composting is a vital tool for the zero waste lifestyle. Now that you know what to compost, you can adapt to that and reduce even more waste than before. Let me know what you learned (if anything) in the comments below! If you did learn something, make sure you share this with friends who might find this blog post useful!