For those of you who already recycle and are looking to further reduce your environmental impact, composting can be a fun and rewarding activity. It’s also a resourceful way to feed your houseplants or garden.
Compost can be made up of almost everything you throw away in your kitchen. Fruit scraps, vegetable waste, paper napkins and even coffee grounds can make for a suitable compost fertilizer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
To get started, you can use a few five-gallon buckets to make your own compost bin. You can also buy special indoor bins from hardware and gardening stores or purchase them online. Backyard bins can be bought from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works for $40 each.
The Culver City's Think Green site offers this advice: "Allow grass clippings to stay on the lawn, instead of bagging them. The cut grass will decompose and return to the soil naturally."
Coffee grounds is also a good source of nutrients, according to the city:
Did you know that applying coffee grounds to your garden can provide a valuable nutrient for the soil? Coffee grounds help vegetables, roses, and other plants. Coffee grounds are high in nitrogen, but are also acidic. Adding brown material such as leaves and dried grass to the mulch will help keep a balanced soil pH. The proper amount to be used depends on the condition of the soil and, more specifically, what you are growing in your garden. Check with your local gardening expert to see what is best for your situation. Adding coffee grounds to your compost bin will generate heat and help speed up the composting process. Coffee grounds act as a green material with a carbon-nitrogen (C-N) ratio of 20-1. Ask your local Culver City barista for used coffee grounds. They usually are more than willing to share with you.
The EPA also offers a few tips on how to create an effective compost mixture:
- Browns - This includes materials such as dead leaves, branches, and twigs.
- Greens - This includes materials such as grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds.
- Water - Having the right amount of water, greens, and browns is important for compost development.
Your compost pile should have an equal amount of browns to greens. You should also alternate layers of organic materials of different-sized particles. The brown materials provide carbon for your compost, the green materials provide nitrogen, and the water provides moisture to help break down the organic matter.
But what if you don’t live in a house or have a yard for big composting bins? If you have extra space in a closet or a cabinet, have a balcony or are allowed on the roof of your apartment building, you can still compost effectively.
For the adventurous, adding worms to your heap can help make your mixture a richer fertilizer. Worms will aerate your mixture while burrowing for food and they excrete a natural substance that contains more nutrients than topsoil.
Do you compost? Are you planning on starting? Share some of your tips or experiences in the comments below.