What You Need to Know about Composting

In recent years, composting has become an increasingly popular method of diverting organic materials from landfills and recycling them into nutrients for gardens. If you are looking to start composting at your home, then you will need to understand how it works, how to start, and how to successfully maintain your pile. You can compost with ease by adhering to the following tips:

Know where and how to start.

In order to make the most out of your compost pile, you will need to know how to start one and where to put it. The optimal location for a compost pile is outside on the ground, preferably in a flat spot that contains ample drainage. This will enable organisms such as worms to enter the pile and begin breaking down the materials contained within them.

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Once you select a location, you will need to determine how you will begin building your compost pile. To expedite the process of biodegradation, you should aim for a pile that is 3 feet in depth, height, and width. You can build your own basic compost container out of materials such as wood pallets, trash receptacles, and cinderblocks. Otherwise, you should consider purchasing one of the numerous styles of ready-made bins available on the market. They are typically available in one of two styles: stationary and tumbler. Simply do some research to see which type of bin will best suit your composting needs.

Add the right materials.

Once you have a compost bin set up, you will need to begin filling it. As such, you must understand the various do’s and don’ts of what to add to your compost pile. You can put all manner of kitchen scraps and yard trimmings into your pile. “Greens” such as peels from produce, plant trimmings, and tea bags all make great additions to a compost bin because they degrade quickly and add a good amount of nitrogen to the pile. You will also need to add carbon-filled “browns” to your compost pile. This category includes everything from eggshells and animal fur to dried leaves and paper. You can also add waste from farmyard animals to your compost pile to incorporate even more nutrients.

When building your compost pile, you should also remain mindful of those items and materials that you should never add. You should keep anything from the meat and dairy categories out of the compost bin and put it in the trash can. Although you can incorporate some plants and trimmings, you should not add any type of weeds to your pile. Moreover, you should never add pet waste, as this can invite pests into your compost bin.

Shred what you plan to compost.

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It’s not enough to simply pack all of your compost into a large pile. In order to help the materials break down more quickly, you will need to make sure that your bin has proper aeration. To this end, you will need to shred or cut most of the materials that you plan to compost. This is a particularly important step to take when you are adding brown materials such as paper, cardboard, and leaves to your pile. These items are inherently more difficult to break down, so cutting them into smaller pieces will hasten the composting process. When in doubt, remember that smaller is better. Make sure that all items are 2 inches or shorter before putting them into your compost pile.

Maintain the right balance.

When looking to create the best-quality compost, you will need to create a perfect balance of green and brown materials. If you add too much of one type of material, then your entire pile may fail to degrade. In order to provide the best environment for composting, you should create an almost equal ratio of materials throughout the pile.

When you initially build your pile, you should add greens and browns in thin layers to ensure a proper balance. As your compost pile continues to grow, you should incorporate these two types of material together. This will help maintain the balance of moisture and allow for more airflow.

Monitor the moisture.

Moisture plays a large role in the decomposition of your compost. As such, you will need to closely monitor the consistency of your mixture to determine whether it is too wet or too dry. A proper balance of green and brown materials will help your compost remain moist, but you may also need to add water to it on a regular basis. In general, you should aim for a moisture composition of between 50 and 60 percent.

Turn it frequently.

As your compost breaks down, you will need to regularly turn it to keep it aerated, moist, and well mixed. Some use a compost tumbler to make this process easier, but you can also use garden tools such as shovels or pitchforks. You should turn your compost every one to two weeks. However, you can better judge when it is the right time to turn your compost by monitoring its internal temperature. As the microorganisms within work to decompose the materials, the compost will reach temperatures of between 140 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit. At this time, you should turn the materials to help the entire pile decompose more quickly

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5 Interesting Methods That You Can Use to Recycle

We all know the three R’s to live sustainably: reduce, reuse, recycle. However, this basic knowledge is not enough to tell us how to use this mantra to pursue a greener lifestyle. When it comes to recycling at home and at work, there are a number of different methods that you can use to minimize your contributions to the global waste and recycling stream. Read on to explore five common types of recycling:

  1. Precycling

supermarketPrecycling provides consumers with a means of reducing or eliminating waste before producing it, thereby minimizing the need to recycle. Most of the time, this practice requires consumers to purchase items that will generate little to no waste at the end of their life cycle. However, many who precycle also choose products that they can later reuse in a new way.

There are countless ways to precycle at home and on the go. When shopping at the grocery store, it is important to avoid any products with excess packaging. Thus, buying bulk items is a much more eco-friendly option. At checkout, using reusable bags to store your purchases will help to minimize the need for plastic bags. Other effective precycling methods include purchasing digital versions of movies and songs instead of CDs or DVDs, always opting for rechargeable batteries, and drinking from reusable cups.

  1. Multi-stream recycling

Sometimes referred to as “sorted-stream” recycling, multi-stream collection was the preferred method of recycling in the United States for many years. The method involves separating each type of recyclable prior to weekly curbside pickup. Individuals and businesses that participate in multi-stream programs often use designated bins to make sure that they properly separate each recyclable. In order to ensure continued separation during pick-up, recycling trucks will place each recyclable into its own compartment. Once they reach a recycling facility, these materials are sorted before they are sent to manufacturers around the world for re-use.

While the multi-stream method provides a comprehensive means of recycling, it also has its disadvantages. Not only do retrieval workers need to stop for a longer time at each residence and business on their route, but they also need to handle more recycling at each location. In addition, requiring consumers to separate reach recyclable by type can make the process complicated and burdensome. As a result, multi-stream recycling patrons sometimes end up throwing their recyclables into the trash instead of taking the time to sort them into designated bins.

  1. Single-stream recycling

glass recyclingRecognizing the various challenges that surround multi-stream recycling, more entities in the recycling industry have adopted the alternative method of single-stream recycling (also known as mixed stream recycling). Consumers who use this system are free to combine their various paper, plastic, glass, and metal recyclables into a single recycling bin. All of the recycled materials then go into a single-compartment recycling truck that brings them to a nearby materials recovery facility (MRF) for processing and sorting.

The more simplified single-stream recycling process can provide a number of benefits to consumers and collectors alike. The system allows recycling facilities to accept a wider array of materials without the need to additional trucks and time to their pickup routes. With shorter routes and less equipment, recyclers are able to save money. On the consumer end, a single-stream system makes it easier for individuals to recycle at home and at work. The simplicity of this method encourages more people to recycle, which ultimately results in more waste diversion.

Despite these benefits, single-stream recycling systems do have their shortcomings. The method can often raise costs for recycling facilities, which need to more time to carefully sort all the recyclables they receive. However, perhaps the biggest issue with this type of recycling method is the contamination of materials. For example, PET bottles and corrugated cardboard can sometimes contaminate an entire batch of recycled paper.

  1. Source separated recycling

Source separated recycling (sometimes called dual stream recycling) is a method that requires consumers to sort their recyclables before placing them into their designated bins. Mainly, these recyclables go into two “streams”: one for paper-based products and the other for glass and plastic materials. This recycling method places the power of sorting into the hands of the consumer, who must separate recyclables at the source.

Facilities that utilize source separated recycling can build upon the benefits that single-stream recycling provides. The main benefit of the dual stream system is that it minimizes the need for recyclers to process the items they receive. Source separation also results in less contamination of materials, which increases the volume of recyclable goods.

  1. Upcycling

For nearly a century, consumers have used upcycling to make new use of the products and materials that they have around their homes. Originally, this method of recycling enabled families with little money to repurpose everything from doors to used sacks of animal feed. Upcycling only continued to increase in popularity over the years due to its money-saving benefits. In recent years, however, consumers have begun to see a second benefit of upcycling: reducing their environmental footprint.

Unlike traditional recycling, upcycling does not require the use of energy to sort, process, and break down recyclable materials for remanufacturing. In addition, it enables consumers to reduce the volume of waste that they contribute to the waste stream. With a little creativity and the right knowledge, anyone can practice upcycling and give new purpose to used items. For example, plastic bottles can become garden planters, and barn doors can become dining room tables.