Captain Planet Says Compost!

Okay, the Cap isn’t delivering this message personally. However, if you’re looking for more ways to reduce your carbon footprint and save money then we’ve got a secret weapon for you: compost.

‘That’s like, fertilizer, right?’ Correct. Well, it’s the main byproduct of compost. There are other things which can be done with compost, but more on that later. But what exactly, is compost? Well, every living thing on the earth contains nutrients. Every living thing needs nutrients. Some living things can synthesize – create – their own nutrients. We can’t. Which is why we consume food. And if we’re consuming natural foods (fruits, veggies, eggs), then we’re consuming the best source for fresh nutrients.

If you cook at home at all (which hurts neither your health nor your wallet) you most likely toss a lot of food and food scraps into the garbage. Well, all those scraps (specifically fruit and veggie skins, eggs and coffee grounds) will, under the right circumstance, decompose down into their most pure, nutrient form that is compost. That compost can be used in your garden as fertilizer – or in some cases – converted into gas that can power your home.

Tell Me More!

Don’t get too excited. While the food waste you produce in your kitchen won’t be enough to fuel the entirety of your home, it can provide you with fuel to cook your next meal. But this requires a specific product which we’ll touch on later. For now, there are a few options when it comes to how to compost. If your city is large enough – like Austin, TX (keep it weird) – there may be a community supported program you can access that makes composting as simple as recycling. If you’re in a more rural area that isn’t quite there yet, you can compost in your own backyard and reap the benefits of that glorious, nutrient-rich fertilizer for your garden and yard. Bonus! Fertilizing your grass with nutrient-rich, natural, non-toxic compost means whatever isn’t absorbed by the soil and plants won’t harm the water supply from the soil run-off.

Getting Started

Before you jump head first into a more complex undertaking, do a little research. Starting out, especially, search the internet for local compost programs. For renters, this is the only option to cut down on food waste. But even if you own a home and can install and care for your own compost system, checking out a community-wide program can help acquaint you with the basics of compost, as well as get you into the habit of separating compost from regular garbage. Once you feel confident in what to compost and how it works, then you can start looking into your own home compost system.

There are two ways to compost at home. You can buy/build a compost bin and tend it like you would a garden to create basic fertilizer for your lawn and garden. It’s the “handmade” version, if you will. It’s very cost effective, but does require monitoring and attention, as well as a solid knowledge of how to properly maintain a compost bin at home. Luckily we live in the digital age and such information exists at your fingertips in the form of articles, videos, even podcasts. The second, more advanced, more expensive, but less effort required option is the Home Biogas system. This system converts your food scraps (and more than just the standard grounds, shells, and produce) into gas and then funnels it back into your kitchen for cooking, as well as fertilizer for your lawn. You’re looking to spend a couple grand with Home Biogas, but you save money, food waste, and gas usage since you’re cooking with what your food trash has created. Whereas a regular compost bin is only a couple hundred – at the most – for a bin and start up and it only begets fertilizer.

At the end of the day, there isn’t a wrong way to compost. Except to not compost. That’s wrong. It cuts down on waste and repurposes it for multiple uses and it puts nutrients back into our soil to harvest better crops. It eliminates harmful toxins from run-off that gets into the water supply. Like solar energy, it’s one of many steps we can take moving forward in a new green initiative.

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