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Composting 101: Why Should We Be Doing It?

Composting is the natural process of decomposing and recycling organic material into nutrient-rich fertilised soil — simply put, its mother nature’s way of recycling. In the recent years, the practice has come into light for its ability to be able to fight climate change at the grassroots level, quite literally. And it doesn’t even require green-thumbed expertise.   

For years humans have been throwing rubbish into trash cans that is ending up in landfills but can actually be composted. What we have been unaware of is that the atmosphere in a landfill causes that very rubbish to break down without oxygen which in result produces a potent greenhouse gas methane, i.e. carbon emissions. Composting is a great way to minimise those CO2 emissions and it does a lot more than that by capturing and eliminating 99.6 percent of volatile organic compounds, from the air that are known to have a harmful impact on our health. 

To put composting into actual practice, sorting your household trash into dry and wet waste is the first step as the dry can potentially be recycled and the wet material can be used in your compost pile. Next, choose an outdoor space for your compost and a dedicated bin. Then, aim for creating an equal ratio of green to brown waste — the former includes most of the items from your wet kitchen waste pile like fruit and vegetable matter and the latter ‘brown’ waste could include items like old newspapers, wood shavings or dry leaves. Your compost will need copious amounts of air and moisture as wetness helps break everything down; so sprinkle the compost with water every now and then. Alternatively, if the process seems impractical in case you reside in a flat or a building, many cities offer compost collection at farmers markets or designated drop sites that can be easy to find.

By composting, we are re-directing organic material back into the earth by trapping carbon in the ground where it can contribute to building healthy soil. Denim brands like Lee that have introduced a line of jeans made from biodegradable linen (85% cotton and 15% flax linen) with no rivets that can be chopped up and added to your compost pile when you’re done using them. Today, composting is even considered an acceptable way to bid farewell to your loved ones who’ve passed away. In May 2019, Washington became the first state to legalise natural organic reduction, or body composting, as an environmentally friendly alternative to existing mortuary options. Cremation has been known to produce heavy greenhouse emissions and embalming consumes millions of litres of chemicals each year — both of which aren’t exactly environmentally friendly. The law is due to take effect by early 2021 where ‘Recompose’, a Seattle-based company, aims to offer commercial body composting. 

Published by: Vibhuti Vazirani/ 2020-02-23

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