Ed Burske's "Can Composting Save the Planet"?


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Presented to CarbonfreeDC, Ed Burske, author of theslowcook.com, gives a wonderful presentation on how to compost with limited yard space.

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Ed Burske's "Can Composting Save the Planet"?

  1. 1. Can Compost Save Planet Earth? An urbanite’s guide to recycling organic matter
  2. 2. What’s Wrong with this Picture?
  3. 3. Where Does it Go?
  4. 4. The City’s Secret Compost
  5. 5. Two-Stroke Engines: A World-Wide Scourge <ul><li>Leaf blower compared to automobile: </li></ul><ul><li>145 times more hydrocarbons </li></ul><ul><li>7.5 times more carbon monoxide </li></ul><ul><li>11 times more particulate matter </li></ul><ul><li>Unacceptable noise levels </li></ul><ul><li>Source: California EPA, 2000 </li></ul>
  6. 6. A Culture of Pollution <ul><li>Filling lawn mowers spills more fuel every year than the Exxon Valdex – 17 million gallons every day </li></ul><ul><li>Spilled gasoline produces 87 million tons of pollution every day </li></ul><ul><li>Source: U.S. EPA </li></ul>
  7. 7. Landfills: What a Waste <ul><li>Yard trimmings and food scraps comprise 45 percent of material sent to landfills </li></ul><ul><li>Anything that was once alive – yard trimmings, food scraps – can b composted instead </li></ul>
  8. 8. Saving Planet Earth
  9. 9. Who is this Man? (and why did he care so much about earthworms?)
  10. 10. The Truth About Worms <ul><li>1 million earthworms per acre </li></ul><ul><li>1,000 tons of castings per acre each year </li></ul><ul><li>Worm castings are a valuable fertilizer, high in plant nutrients and beneficial microbes </li></ul>
  11. 11. Compost = Nature’s Recycling System
  12. 14. Compost and Fertility
  13. 15. The Worldwide Search for Fertilizer
  14. 16. The Haber-Bosch Process
  15. 17. Artificial Fertilizer: Blessing or Curse?
  16. 18. Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone
  17. 19. Modern Homeowners Embrace Haber’s Process
  18. 20. Chesapeake Death Zone
  19. 21. The Ultimate Irony
  20. 22. Backyard Composting
  21. 23. A Basic Formula
  22. 24. “Greens” and “Browns” <ul><li>Equal parts green materials – such as grass clippings – and brown materials – such as leaves </li></ul><ul><li>Water </li></ul><ul><li>Aerate (turn) </li></ul>
  23. 25. Carbon/Nitrogen Ratio <ul><li>Ideal: 30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t worry if you can’t remember this formula </li></ul><ul><li>Kitchen waste: 15/1 </li></ul><ul><li>Horse manure: 30/1 </li></ul><ul><li>Leaves: 55/1 </li></ul><ul><li>Sawdust: 440/1 </li></ul><ul><li>Carboard: 500/1 </li></ul>
  24. 26. How Compost Happens: The Decomposers
  25. 27. Benefits of Compost <ul><li>Improves soil structure </li></ul><ul><li>Feeds vital soil organisms </li></ul><ul><li>Slowly releases plant nutrients </li></ul><ul><li>Increases water retention </li></ul><ul><li>Balances soil pH </li></ul><ul><li>Encourages healthy root systems </li></ul><ul><li>Helps suppress plant diseases, reduce need for pesticides </li></ul>
  26. 28. Things to Compost <ul><li>Animal manure </li></ul><ul><li>Cardboard rolls </li></ul><ul><li>Clean paper </li></ul><ul><li>Coffee grounds and filters </li></ul><ul><li>Cotton rags </li></ul><ul><li>Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint </li></ul><ul><li>Eggshells </li></ul><ul><li>Fireplace ashes </li></ul><ul><li>Fruits and vegetables </li></ul><ul><li>Grass clippings </li></ul><ul><li>Hair and fur </li></ul><ul><li>Hay and straw </li></ul><ul><li>Houseplants </li></ul><ul><li>Leaves </li></ul><ul><li>Nut shells </li></ul><ul><li>Sawdust </li></ul><ul><li>Shredded newspaper </li></ul><ul><li>Tea bags </li></ul><ul><li>Wood chips </li></ul><ul><li>Wool rags </li></ul><ul><li>Yard trimmings </li></ul>
  27. 29. What Not to Compost <ul><li>Black walnut tree leaves or twigs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Releases substances that might be harmful to plants </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Coal or charcoal ash </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Might contain substances harmful to plants </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Dairy products (e.g., butter, egg yolks, milk, sour cream, yogurt) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Diseased or insect-ridden plants </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Diseases or insects might survive and be transferred back to other plants </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Fats, grease, lard, or oils </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Meat or fish bones and scraps </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Pet wastes (e.g., dog or cat feces, soiled cat litter) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Might contain parasites, bacteria, germs, pathogens, and viruses harmful to humans </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides </li></ul>
  28. 30. Basic Composting Bins <ul><li>Minimum 3 ft x 3 ft x 3 ft to generate heat </li></ul><ul><li>Accessible for turning </li></ul><ul><li>Not too large </li></ul><ul><li>Wire, wood, concrete blocks, straw bales </li></ul><ul><li>Above ground or in a pit </li></ul><ul><li>Covered or not covered </li></ul>
  29. 31. Wire Bins
  30. 32. Wooden Bins
  31. 33. Masonry Bins
  32. 34. Composting in Place
  33. 35. Large-Scale Composting
  34. 36. Compost from Tree Waste
  35. 37. Kitchen Scraps
  36. 38. Alternative Bin: Trash Can
  37. 39. Manufactured Bins
  38. 40. Composting with Manufactured Bin
  39. 41. Avoid Odors & Vermin <ul><li>Maintain aerobic conditions – not too moist </li></ul><ul><li>Use sealed containers if composting kitchen scraps – or refrain from composting calorie-dense foods </li></ul>
  40. 42. Problem: Winter
  41. 43. Composting with Worms
  42. 44. Worm Bins
  43. 45. Automatic Composting <ul><li>Built-in electric element </li></ul><ul><li>Composts all food scraps (including meat & dairy) </li></ul><ul><li>5 kwh per month </li></ul>
  44. 46. Bokashi Composting <ul><li>Anaeorobic fermentation </li></ul><ul><li>Layers of wheat bran </li></ul><ul><li>Composts meat & bones </li></ul><ul><li>Drain off liquid </li></ul><ul><li>Use in garden or compost pile </li></ul>
  45. 47. Thank you! <ul><li>The Slow Cook </li></ul><ul><li>www.theslowcook.com </li></ul><ul><li>D.C. Urban Gardeners </li></ul><ul><li>www.dc-urban-gardeners.com </li></ul><ul><li>D.C. Public Works </li></ul><ul><li>www.dpw.dc.gov </li></ul>
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