Composting in Austin
Many of you have been asking us what are some practical steps you can take to live a zero-waste (or more environmentally conscious) life style. In the next few weeks we’ll try to cover topics such as recycling, reusing, and waste-reduction and provide relevant resources in Austin. We want to first cover the 101 on composting in Austin.
What exactly is composting and why is it so great?
Composting is essentially the earth’s natural way of recycling. It is the decomposition of biodegradable items such as- plant remains (think yard leaves or weeds) and food. Instead of sending your biodegradable wastes to landfills, you can compost such waste to make a dark, crumbly substance, excellent for enriching soil. This is a great way to reduce the enormous volume of material going to landfills and the high use of chemical fertilizers in most soil.
So, where do I start?
1. Select a location in your yard. A spot near a water source would be best. Also, away from your neighbors or any picnic tables.
2. Either build your own compost bin, buy a home compost bin, or create a compost pile.
3. Make sure to be aware of the moisture and aeration of your compost.
4. The microbes in your compost need water and air to thrive. However, too much water could mean a slimy pile. It’s also important to turn your pile to insure well ventilated compost.
5. As you add more waste to your pile, make sure to not purposefully squash the material down, pockets of space creates needed ventilation. Also, remember to cut up any big pieces of organic waste produce or plants remains to ensure even composting in your pile.
What else can I do?
1. There is even money to be earned in your composting efforts. Join the City of Austin’s Home Composting Rebate Challenge. All you have to do is:
- Downsize to a 32-gallon green garbage cart (It’s free, just all 311 to request the change)
- Take a free basic home composting class (They have classes online or sign-up for a class here)
- Purchase a home composting system or build your own and start composting!
2. Apartment dwellers or people lacking yard space can still compost. Check out Green Bucket Composting. With weekly pick-ups and special compost containers that have built-in charcoal filters, you won’t ever have to worry about the smell. Here is a guide to make an apartment friendly compost bucket from Glean Organics, Brothers Lane’s (creator of in.gredients) compost company.
3. If you need help composting in a larger space such as a restaurant, office building, or retail location, check out Break it Down. They are the company behind the composting drop spots for the Triangle and downtown farmer’s markets.
Some helpful links:
If you don’t want to make your own home compost bins, a quick search on Amazon will do the trick or here is a collection of bins to choose from.
A great composting FAQ page created by the city.
A list of things you should NOT compost.
The biology behind composting.
Check out this blog entry from Glean Organics about approaching zero-waste.
(image via: The Greenest Dollar)