Turn Your Trash Into Something Useful

Written by Plant With Purpose on April 11, 2013 in General

Visit the farm of a Plant With Purpose partnering farmer, and you’ll find contained piles of plant clippings, kitchen scraps, and other organic matter. What formerly was burned is now used to produce rich soil for growing a productive garden.

Compost pile on an agroforestry farm in Kili 61, Dominican Republic

During Earth Month, why not start composting at home? There are so many benefits, including cutting the amount of waste being sent to landfills, running less water down the drain with the garbage disposal, and even having worms shred your junk mail. 

Composting 101 
There are actually many types of composting. For most households, simple cool composting (anaerobic) is ideal. For the more adventuresome composter, you can look into worm composting, also known as vermiculture. Plant With Purpose farmers are able to do hot composting (aerobic), where bacteria are working so hard at breaking down the organic matter that the inside of a pile can reach 150 degrees Fahrenheit! Check out this video demonstration from Tanzania.   

So basic, cool composting means collecting items that will decompose, throwing them in a pile, and waiting! 

You will want to keep a balanced ratio of green and brown items (the brown items will help eliminates the rotten fruit smell).   

Here’s a quick list of what to compost: 

Green (Nitrogen):                        
fruits and vegetables                     
tea bags                                          
coffee grinds and filters                  
lawn clippings                                 
chicken manure                              

Brown (Carbon):
shredded paper
dried leaves
woodchips or sawdust

Avoid composting these: meat, bones, fish scraps, milk products, grease, weeds with seeds, diseased plants, or ash 

Additional Tips
You can speed up the breaking down process by cutting up, shredding, and chopping all items into smaller pieces. 

Add some water so your pile retains the moisture of a wrung-out sponge. Stir the top layers in the pile and throw some brown items on top. Add worms or some “starter compost” from a friend, and in a few months you’ll have some beautiful, rich, organic mater to add to your garden! 

Compost used to plant orange trees in Zumbador, Dominican Republic

There are tons of great crocks and containers for your kitchen counter and many options for how to contain your pile. Check out our Composting Board on Pinterest for some great ideas. 

Happy composting! 

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