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"Composting 101" Presentation


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Includes why composting is important, how to compost at home, acceptable materials, and more.

Includes why composting is important, how to compost at home, acceptable materials, and more.

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  • 1. Presentation created by Amy Donovan, Program Director
  • 2. Why compost? Composting saves money For your home : use less “Pay As You Throw” town trash bags by keeping food out of your bag; use less leaf bags for yard waste For your town : less trash pickup = lower trucking/hauling, trash disposal costs (save money for roads, sidewalks, parks, snow removal) For your yard and garden : buy less synthetic chemical fertilizers, soil; water less often For your apartment building : less costly trash, overflowing stinky dumpster, noisy pickups
  • 3. Composting keeps food waste out of landfills Composting saves space in landfills Photo of Northampton landfill, June 2008
  • 4. Composting helps slow Climate Change Climate Change (or Global Warming) is caused by greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Greenhouse Gases : Carbon Dioxide Methane Nitrous Oxide
  • 5. The Climate Change Connection When food waste (and paper) biodegrade in a landfill, methane is released. Methane is a greenhouse gas 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Over a 20-year period, methane can be 72 times more potent than carbon dioxide!! Methane pipe at a landfill
  • 6. Why doesn’t composting release methane? Because oxygen is part of the composting process. There is no oxygen in a landfill. Compost bins made from reused pallets
  • 7. Compost is great for plants: adds nutrients to soil. used on farms for growing vegetables in home gardens for growing flowers, vegetables in landscaping Farmland Finished compost
  • 8. How does it work? Compost uses nature’s recycling program: Plants, trees and leaves decompose . They become soil, or compost . The compost feeds the plants.
  • 9. How does it work? A compost bin needs: Water: material in bin should be as damp as a wrung out sponge. Add water if not, and when building pile. Add sparingly in winter. Air/ Oxygen: mix/stir occasionally “ Green” materials: (nitrogen) food waste “ Brown” materials: (carbon) leaves, hay, shredded and soaked newspaper, egg cartons Microorganisms: eat material and heat it up
  • 10. 3 “sizes” of composting: Small : An indoor worm bin , uses red wiggler worms to eat food waste (vermicomposting) Accepts only fruit, veggie, some bread/ grain waste Medium : Backyard composting Earth Machine, other store bought bins; Reused pallet bin - almost free Accepts wider range food, yard waste: No animal products
  • 11. Windrows at Bear Path Farm, Whately LARGE: Bear Path Farm, Whately. “On-Farm” Compost programs (also Martin’s Farm, Clear View Composting) accept: ALL food, including meat, poultry, bones, cheese, oils Paper including paper plates, napkins, paper towels (Buy compost at farm by the pail; or have it delivered.)
  • 12. The Yes and No of home composting : YES; Green/Nitrogen-rich : Veggies, fruit, & peels Bread, rice, pasta, grains Coffee grounds, paper coffee filters, tea bags Eggshells Grass clippings, yard waste NO; will smell and attract animals : Meat, fish, bones Cheese, dairy Fat, grease, oils, peanut butter Cooked foods with lots of sauces/ butter Also: Diseased or insect-ridden plants Weeds which spread by roots and runners Weeds with seeds YES; Brown/Carbon-rich : Fall leaves Straw, hay Shredded newspaper or paper Chinet paper plates (rip up) Egg cartons (rip up) Wood chips Old potting soil (dead houseplants)
  • 13. Setting up your bin Put bin in an easily accessible place (winter) Place bin in sunny spot away from neighbors (won’t smell if you use plenty of leaves and bury waste; no animal products) Gather for set up : Food Waste Lots and lots of fall leaves/ brown materials Finished compost or garden soil (2-3 shovel-fulls) Shovel or pitchfork Hose or bucket(s) of water (no water in winter)
  • 14. Setting up your bin Build Pile : Add leaves/ brown materials to ½ full Add finished compost/ soil Add any other green/ brown materials in layers Bury food waste in middle, cover with leaves Each time you add food waste, bury in center and cover with leaves/ brown materials (ripped up egg cartons, paper towels) Add remaining leaves to fill up to top Slowly add water to moisten pile
  • 15. Keep it cookin’ Each time you add food waste, bury in center and cover with leaves/ brown materials. Add leaves or brown materials regularly. (keep the ratio 3 parts brown, one part green) Add water regularly (keep moist as a wrung out sponge) Stir entire pile every month or 2. Once you have a bin full of materials (in 6-12 months), stop adding materials and stir more frequently. When the compost is finished, use on gardens and when planting new plants.
  • 16. Links for more info Using finished compost: General Links: Mass DEP: FCSWMD: EPA:
  • 17. Questions? Need more info? Presentation created by: Amy Donovan Program Director Franklin County Solid Waste Management District 50 Miles Street, Greenfield, MA 01301 (413) 772-2438 [email_address]