A class learns ways to reduce waste.

A class learns ways to reduce waste.

Huge benefits to composting

Dealing with the quantity of garbage humans produce has become an increasing headache for rural districts and municipalities.

Dealing with the quantity of garbage humans produce has become an increasing headache for rural districts and municipalities.

Costs are mounting as fuel prices rise and landfill sites are filling up. As well, there are the environmental costs: direct effects on wildlife, release of greenhouse gases, leaching of contaminants into groundwater supplies, and massive garbage “patches” in the ocean.

So we are all paying for our excessive garbage, both directly in our taxes, but also in the loss to our “natural capital,” a term used more frequently by economists pushing to include environmental accounting in fiscal balance sheets.

Composting will reduce your garbage output instantly by approximately 40 per cent, reducing both the fuel needed to transport your garbage to the dump and the damaging methane emissions from organic waste decomposition.

If you need more convincing, think of the (free) nutrient-rich soil conditioner that you will have for your garden/ houseplants.

So on to composting options.

There are many sources of composting advice available on-line, so before you start composting you will need to research. Growing up in a large European city with a tiny back yard, we had the sophisticated technique of a “pile” in one corner of the garden. The rules were simple: avoid putting meats, oils and dairy into the compost pile, turn it over with a garden fork every few weeks and collect compost from the bottom of the pile as needed. Moving upwards from the pile, there are pre-made wire frames available in hardware stores as well as plastic containers of varying shapes and sizes, or you can build your own wooden bin.

The type of container is probably less important than getting good air circulation, though some people report less success with the plastic bins. Keeping the composter in a warm spot helps to accelerate the process.

But what if you don’t have a yard? Or you want to compost in an office or school? The answer for you is red wrigglers!

Outside compost systems will naturally attract worms that enhance the breakdown of materials. For indoor composting, you can keep your own collection of worms in a suitable enclosed container, feeding them your kitchen waste, and you will still be able to successfully compost.

A well-functioning worm colony will break down its own weight of waste daily (i.e. two pounds of worms can manage two pounds of waste).

While there may be a bit of a learning curve initially, once you have the hang of it, worm composting is an effective and odourless way to manage kitchen waste. Several companies sell packages with suitable containers, worms and instructions for around $120, or build your own container and fill it with your own worms — just Google “worm composting” for further advice.

The Conservation Society has 12 composters and worm sets available free of charge to classrooms in Williams Lake.

For further information on these, or to book a Water Wise or Waste Wise presentation, contact CCCS  at sustain@ccconserv.org or visit the website at www.cconserv.org.