• Sara Thompson

Save Your Scraps

By Sara Thompson

Special to The Enterprise


Compost bin
Compost bin; photo by Ingimar Erl, obtained on Wikimedia Commons

Composting is a great way to help enrich soil and keep the environment healthy. We all produce food scraps in one way or another, and composting is a great way to both benefit the environment and keep some of that material out of landfills. When done properly composting should not smell bad or attract pests. There are a variety of benefits that come about with composting as small as your own home garden and can even have global benefits as well.


Compost is made up of three main parts: Browns, which are dead leaves and twigs from trees and bushes, and they add carbon to the system. Greens, including grass clippings, fruit and vegetable scraps, and even coffee and tea grounds, which all add nitrogen to the system. Lastly is water; without water keeping everything moist, the compost would not decompose and enrich properly. Alternating brown and green layers helps keep all the nutrients dispersed and the whole system healthy.


The best use for compost is to put it back into the soil. You can add it to your own gardens or yards, and it will help enrich the soil and keep it healthy. The microbes, carbon, and nitrogen in the compost help aerate soil and keep the pH of the soil in safe and healthy zones. The carbon and nitrogen also give plants the nutrients and chemicals they need to grow, lessening the need for fertilizers which can seep into ground water. Compost can also hold a lot of water, so adding it to the soil helps the area retain more water and moisture, helping during dry times and keeping plants healthy. More water retention in the soil can help prevent landslides.


Not all things are great for composting, however. Most food scraps are good for it, but the best ones are fruit and vegetable scraps, yard clippings, eggshells, coffee and tea grounds, and even shredded newspaper and cardboard. There are also several things that are not great for composting and can make it smell bad and attract unwanted pests. The do-not-add list includes dairy products, meat and bones, any oils, pet waste, or anything treated with harmful chemicals. If you would like to create a compost bin at home, a great resource is https://www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home.


Composting is only one of countless ways we can help keep our planet healthy. Come explore our exhibit Healthy Planet, Healthy You exhibit to learn about other ways we all can help contribute to the health of our planet. Visit during our Public Hours: Friday 1-4pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am-2pm. Make-and-take crafts available for children before noon on weekends, while supplies last.


 

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