Compost is the byproduct of food scraps and plant wastes as they decompose. Food and plants are organic materials that comprise upwards of 30 percent of what is discarded. Rather than taking up space in the landfill and releasing methane, a dangerous greenhouse gas, these waste items can be turned into compost to enrich soil and reduce reliance upon chemical fertilizers. Compost also helps soil retain water more effectively.
Many communities have a composting service similar to trash removal, where compostables are picked up weekly. If you don’t have a service in your city or town, composting can be done at home, either outdoors or indoors. Place material in a bin or opt for a pile in a shady spot outdoors. Chop larger materials into smaller pieces before adding it in. Moisten dry materials and then mix to bury new material ten inches deep. Compost is ready when the material at the bottom is a dark, rich color, two months to two years outdoors; or two to five weeks indoors.
Compostable materials include fruits and vegetables, eggshells, coffee grounds and filters, tea bags, nut shells, shredded paper, cardboard, yard waste, houseplants, hay and straw, sawdust, wood chips, cotton and wool rags, hair, fur and fireplace ashes.