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Composting for Small Spaces

Invest in low-waste systems for transforming organic material into nutrient-rich plant food – even with limited space.

| March/April 2019

Photo by Getty Images/RyanJLane

You’re tired of taking out trash bag after trash bag filled with stinky fruit and vegetable scraps. It feels like a waste (pun intended) to throw away so many food trimmings when you know you could be composting them instead. But you live in a small dwelling, share a home with several others, or have no private outdoor space, and composting seems like an impossible feat. Though it may feel
unattainable, composting with limited space simply requires some creativity!

Down in the Dirt

Composting is a deliberate, accelerated decomposition process of organic materials, such as grass clippings and food scraps, which are transformed into a rich fertilizer. Mixing compost with soil gives optimal nutritional balance to plants. So, by combining sources of nitrogen (“greens,” such as fruit peelings) and sources of carbon (“browns,” such as dead leaves) gathered from your environment, you can make your very own garden gold.

Photo by Getty Images/FeelPic

Here are just a few of the benefits of composting, even in small spaces:

  • Composting saves food scraps from going to the landfill. When this organic matter sits in a landfill, it ferments, releasing potent methane gas into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.
  • It encourages the natural nutrient and microbial balance of soil, reducing the need for pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers.
  • When you compost, you cut down on household trash — meaning fewer trash bags used and less stinky waste!
  • Composting gives a sense of connection to the environment, and satisfaction from doing your part to reduce carbon emissions and maintain soil integrity.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that up to 30 percent of our household trash is compostable, and another study found that the average American throws away about 1 pound of food scraps every day. Just think of how much nutrient-rich soil you could create with that in your very own compost!

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