#1 Simplest Way to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

What do those last few scraps of food left behind on your plate after dinner, an empty cereal box and a day-old newspaper all have in common? Easy. They all go into the trash.

And do you really know what happens when you throw things into the trash? They are taken to the landfill, and those decomposable items that could be enriching the soil instead emit greenhouse gases that taint the atmosphere.

Twenty to 30 percent of what we throw away are food scraps, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. However, there’s an easy solution to minimizing the amount of waste you contribute to the landfill and the amount of carbon you are responsible for in the atmosphere — composting.

Composting organic material that can be added back to the soil helps keep these materials out of landfills where they take up valuable space and release methane. The benefits reach beyond just the obvious, however. Composting enriches the soil by adding beneficial bacteria and fungi naturally to reduce the need for chemical fertilizers.

It’s really simple, and you can do it whether or not you have a backyard or a need for the new soil.

Backyard Composting

Select a dry, shady spot near a water source, and add brown and green materials chopped or shredded. Make sure they are moistened as they are added. Once your pile is established, mix green waste into the pile with a shovel, and bury fruit and veggie waste under 10 inches of materials.

Indoor Composting

If you don’t have a yard for composting, no worries. All you need is a bin and compostable material (see end of article for list). Keep track of what you throw in, and if you keep it properly moistened and mixed then it shouldn’t stink or attract bugs.

You’ll know your compost is ready for use or distribution when it is dark and rich in color. Either spread it in your garden, or find a compost distribution location.

All compost requires three basic materials:

1. Browns — includes materials such as dead leaves, branches and twigs.

2. Greens — includes materials such as grass clippings, vegetable and fruit waste and coffee grounds.

3. Water — having the right amount of water is important for compost development.

It’s important to have an equal amount of browns and greens, and layering these materials will help your compost have even nutrients throughout. The water is important to help break down the organic matter.

Do compost:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Tea bags
  • Nut shells
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Yard trimmings
  • Grass clippings
  • Houseplants
  • Hay and straw
  • Leaves
  • Sawdust
  • Wood chips
  • Cotton and Wool Rags
  • Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint
  • Hair and fur
  • Fireplace ashes

Don’t compost:

  • Black walnut tree leaves or twigs
  • Coal or charcoal ash
  • Dairy products (e.g., butter, milk, sour cream, yogurt) and eggs
  • Diseased or insect-ridden plants
  • Fats, grease, lard, or oils
  • Meat or fish bones and scraps
  • Pet wastes (e.g., dog or cat feces, soiled cat litter)
  • Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides

Composting is EASY, and not to mention it costs NOTHING. When thinking of ways to reduce your carbon footprint, composting is the #1, most pain-free way to do so.