May 24th, 2024

Viva Vitality: Food waste isn’t garbage – composting is where it’s at

By Laura Lukye on May 3, 2024.

Don’t let food scraps get thrown in the trash bin at home. Take some time to understand about composting and how it will work for you. Composting is a cheap and easy way to turn kitchen scraps, shredded paper, and leaves into nutrient rich plant food. By composting, you are reducing waste and lowering the carbon footprint. Composting can be done indoors and outdoors.

To get started on composting:

1. Get a compost bin. You can purchase compost bins at most local stores. Decide where you are going to compost – indoor and/or outdoor?

2. Know what goes in the bin. One of the most essential parts of composting is knowing what items can be composted. To create the right reaction in your bin, you need a mix of greens (food waste, grass clippings) and browns (yard waste, newspapers). Do compost eggshells, teabags, shredded paper and cardboard, fruit and vegetable peelings and yard waste (leaves, sticks, weeds, and grass). Do not compost meat, fish, dairy products, cooked food tissues and napkins.

3. Layer your compost bin. Add the browns to your bin, then put the greens on top. Keep the contents damp by lightly watering them.

4. Mix and monitor the compost. The compost should be turned every three or four days to aerate it and prevent compaction. Compost should be moist like a wrung-out sponge. If the contents are too dry, it will take a long time for the contents to break down. In this case, add some water and mix thoroughly. On the other hand, if the compost becomes too wet, it will start to smell. If this happens, mix in more dry brown materials to help dry it out.

5. Use your compost. Depending on what’s inside your bin and how often you turn the contents over, you’ll likely have compost within a few months. You’ll know it’s ready when it’s dark brown and crumbly and smells like soil – not rotting vegetables.

6. Don’t give up. Composting is not an exact science. It takes time and experience to figure out the best way for you to compost in your environment.

7. Celebrate your success. You have reduced waste, helped make healthy plants and a healthy planet!

If want more information, head to your city’s webpage and look up composting and composting programs.

Laura Lukye is a health promotion facilitator with Alberta Health Services South Zone Population Health Promotion Program

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