The thought of not throwing away your garbage, and instead putting it in your backyard can be a daunting idea. But composting is so much more than what most people think. Taking your trash of organic material (apple cores, lettuce, the broccoli the kids refuse to eat) and creating a compost pile with it can allow you to take 700 POUNDS of material from your household out of the human waste stream. That’s a huge burden lifted from the environment. Not only does the Earth gain something from composting but you also gain amazing, rich soil that can be used in your garden and lawn. Composting isn’t just for hippies anybody can do it. Here are some facts to get you started:

What is composting: It’s the transformation of organic material into soil-like material through decomposition. The end result is the compost.

Composting is constantly occurring in nature, it’s why you can walk through a forest and not wade through a mountain of built up leaves and dead insects (lovely thought, I know)

Human composting didn’t start in the 60’s; it can be traced as far back as the Bible! In the 19th century America farmers used compost as a way to enrich their soil.

Compost works wonders with the soil you use in your yard and garden. It improves soil structure and water retention. Mixing compost with your normal soil helps with erosion control and healthy root development.

When organic material is dumped in a landfill it takes a long time to break down and produces methane gas, which is terrible for the environment. It’s just plain inefficient to not take advantage of the rich nutrients a compost pile could provide your lawn with!

You can choose the level of involvement with your compost pile. Some people practice “passive composting” where they merely build up a compost pile but don’t maintain it. It can take a very long time for the pile to produce rich compost. Other people practice “active composting” which gives you compost in two to six weeks.

Active composting requires two components: “aeration,” which means you need to turn the pile to allow oxygen to flow and moisture to help with the decomposition. Microbes also play a huge part in composting; this means the worms, insects and bacteria that digest the organic material.

Backyard composting is becoming more and more mainstream. Stop by your local garden center to get a bin to enclose your compost in. This will keep out critters and help you maintain your compost. The library is a great place to pick up books on composting.

Food wastes such as meats, fish and fats CAN be composted but in a different system with different equipment. If you decide to create organic material and non-organic material composts learn about the differences and make sure the piles are kept separate.

Composting is a great way for you and your kids to see science in action. Watching your trash turn into nutrient rich soil is a satisfying experience and one you can reap the benefits from for years to come. Now that the nice weather is upon us get out there and get composting!