Composting, the process of breaking down organic waste like food scraps, paper, grass clippings, and yard waste into nutrient-rich dirt seems like a complex and difficult project, but it’s actually quite simple! Composting is a sustainable and zero-waste solution to one of the biggest environmental issues we face: over 30% of food that is produced ends up in the garbage. Implementing composting into your life will reduce your carbon footprint and will address some of the worst effects of climate change.
In this blog, you’ll find topics that will talk about the many benefits of composting, including:
- Why should you compost?
- Environmental benefits of composting
- Economic and financial benefits of composting
- Benefits of composting for your plants and garden
- Top composting benefits for the society
- 7 great resources on composting tips and tricks for beginners
Let’s start with the basics: why should anybody bother with composting?
Why should you compost?
Composting benefits the environment, the economy, our plants and gardens, and our community. It is one of the most important ways we can address climate change as individuals and as a collective. Getting started isn’t as difficult as you might think, and it’s a simple solution to a complex issue.
Environmental: It reduces methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas. It prevents compostable waste from ending up in landfills, which replace natural habitats and leak into surrounding areas.
Economical: Diverting compost away from garbage reduces your trash bill and produces a valuable resource.
Plants & Garden: Compost contains essential nutrients for healthy plant growth. You won’t need chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or chemical pesticides.
Community: Creating a closed loop by composting organic waste creates a stronger, more resilient food system.
There are tons of perks to composting within these four categories, so we’re going to break down exactly what you gain by transforming organic materials through composting. You’ll also find tons of amazing books, websites, and blogs to help you start your own composting system! Don’t be overwhelmed; setting it up is much easier than you think.
Environmental benefits of composting
Composting benefits the environment because it accomplishes so many climate change goals at once. These are the four main environmental reasons you should consider composting.
#1 Enriches soil and makes it healthier
Healthy soil is one of the most important elements to thriving ecosystems. Productive soil is bursting with beneficial microbes and mycorrhizal fungi that connect plants in a strong network of communication. This just means that rich soil supports all living organisms. Unhealthy, or barren, soil, on the other hand, is a symptom of failing natural systems. Barren soil cannot hold water or nutrients, making erosion more likely and dry periods without rain that much more destructive. Adding pre-compost will reduce soil erosion, which improves soil health.
One of the major benefits of compost is that it can reintroduce nutrients, microbes, and other beneficial composting organisms into the soil, healing these systems over time.
Did you know: Soil is the foundation of the mutually beneficial relationship between mycorrhizal fungi and plant roots. Their relationship results in larger, healthier plants and increased resilience against environmental disturbance.
#2 Prevents methane from heating up the atmosphere
Composting food waste benefits the environment because it prevents this material from entering the landfills. Organic waste does not break down naturally in landfills. This is because landfill waste creates anaerobic environments, which means there is not enough oxygen for good microbes to decompose the material. Anaerobic decomposition creates methane gas from food waste, a highly potent greenhouse gas that is 25 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
Did you know: Anaerobic decomposition of organic matter is the 3rd leading human-related cause of methane emissions in the U.S.
#3 Decreases waste going to landfills
A staggering 30% of all food grown on Earth is wasted. In addition to simply reducing our food waste as much as possible, we can divert up to 100% of our organic waste just by composting. Organic materials are made of important nutrients that could simply be broken down and reintroduced into the soils, but instead, they are heading straight to the dumps.
Massive landfills are replacing natural ecosystems and habitats, which means native wildlife is being displaced. In addition, the bottoms of all landfills must be lined with a protective plastic layer to prevent leaking into the surrounding ecosystems, but leaks have been recorded, causing ecological damage in the area.
Composting is one step towards reducing our need for landfills altogether. There are so many ways to compost; even if you don’t have enough space for a compost pile in your backyard, you can start your own system indoors.
Did you know: Lomi, the countertop composter, can turn almost any kitchen scrap into nutrient-rich dirt in a matter of hours.
#4 Creates a sustainable, closed-loop system
The top climate scientists around the globe have been warning for decades: we must address our impact on earth in order to halt climate change and prevent ecological collapse. Reducing carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is one of the most effective ways to address climate change. While 100 companies emit 71% of all global emissions, individual action is also essential to change human behavior and make positive changes.
One pro of composting is that the practice allows us to regenerate our waste into a valuable resource. It is something everybody can do in their own homes and directly creates something good.
Did you know: Michael Pollan, the well-known food systems writer, estimates our fruits and vegetables travel, on average, more than 1,500 miles total to get to our plates. Composting at home can cut out the final emissions ride on a garbage truck to the landfill.
Economic and financial benefits of composting
A lot of people think composting is an extremely difficult and expensive process but in reality it can actually have several financial benefits. Here are 3 ways you can save money by turning your fruit and vegetable scraps and even grass clippings into compost.
#5 Helps you save on your trash bill
The average American throws away 4.4 pounds of trash every single day. That kind of waste adds up in the form of your regular trash bill. Besides reducing your waste overall, diverting fruit and vegetable scraps and other biodegradable household items into composting can significantly cut down on the amount of trash you dispose of on a daily basis.
Plus, now that we’ve talked about how harmful trash can be on the environment, reducing our garbage is an all-around pro of composting.
Did you know: Every year, each American throws away almost 1,200 pounds of organic waste that can be composted. That quickly adds up when you think about how valuable compost is as a resource.
#6 Produces a valuable resource
The benefits of composting food waste include literally creating a necessary ingredient to growing more nutritious food. The most basic method of composting costs almost nothing, and the result is an incredibly valuable resource for home gardening and agriculture at any scale.
Using the by-products and waste products of good and other organic material to make fertilizing soil that reduces the need for additional pesticides and herbicides is a simple solution to an expensive problem created by industrial agriculture.
Did you know: Food scraps are rich in nitrogen and micronutrients (such as iron and manganese), while yard waste, paper products, and coffee grounds are rich in carbon.
#7 Keeps you aware of your waste
The benefits of composting food waste include actively keeping track of the types of food you’re wasting. If you toss your wilted salad mix into the composter every week, then you can make adjustments in your grocery shopping every week.
Composting is a perfect way to curb your spending habits at the grocery store. You can track the kinds of waste you make by noticing what goes bad and ends up in the compost. Then, you still get a nutrient-rich soil additive and you aren’t adding to the landfills!
Did you know: The Lomi makes garbage optional. It efficiently breaks down your waste into multiple kinds of useful, nutrient-rich dirt.
Benefits of composting for your plants and garden
One of the most common reasons people love to compost their food scraps and biodegradable household items is to supply their gardens with nutrient-rich humus, or the essential component of soil made of organic material. Including compost in your garden will help your plants grow, it will improve soil health, and it will improve the soil quality. Let’s look at the ways composting can support your plants and gardens.
#8 Makes your plants healthier
One perk of adding compost in a garden is that it can supplement the natural microbes and nutrients that are already in the soil. This can be super helpful for people who are just starting their gardens, as well. Over time, a consistent supply of fertilizing compost will create healthy, resilient soil that will support your growing fruits and veggies!
Because pre-compost provides many of the key nutrients that plants need to grow, it can negate the need for artificial fertilizer.
Creating artificial fertilizer is an energy-intensive process that generates considerable amounts of greenhouse gases. Artificial fertilizer is more likely to be overused, which leads to nutrient runoff that can lead to a whole slew of environmental problems.
When plants are well-fed on organic material, they not only grow faster and larger, but they also have the resources to better defend themselves from pests and diseases.
Did you know: Lomi composts scraps within hours, which means you can have a near-constant supply of nutrient-rich soil for your plants.
#9 Helps your plants absorb more nutrients
Pros of adding compost to soil is that you’re basically supercharging your plants with all the nutrients they could possibly need to thrive. It provides plants with food in the form of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium which are the same essential components of agricultural fertilizer. Over time, you can almost totally replace the application of fertilizer with your own compost! You are able to take control of your garden from the soil, to the seeds, to the nutrients, and more.
Traditional composting can be a slow process but it doesn’t always have to take that much time! There are many ways to speed up the composting process so you can mix it into your garden faster than ever.
Did you know: Meats, bones, and oils should be kept out of your compost. Fat and protein-heavy substances can introduce diseases and attract animals to your compost pile.
#10 Aids the soil in retaining the right amount of moisture
Depending on the soil in your garden, adding compost can help to achieve the perfect moisture for your plants. Is your garden made of mostly sand, causing water to quickly drain through? Compost can enrich the soil with the organic material needed to hold water long enough for plants to take it up through their roots. Is your garden made of mostly clay, keeping water locked into the tightly packed soil and essentially drowning your plants? Mixing pre-compost in with dense soil helps to aerate it, creating just enough space between the grains of soil to allow water to pass through once your plants have taken up enough of it.
This is why organic matter is super important for productive soil. It can help make adjustments in your garden which means the benefits of pre-compost can mean a rich bounty of fruits and veggies year after year.
Did you know: Aerating your pre-compost – by running a pitchfork or rake through it every week or so – will help keep it from getting too compact. A looser, more aerated structure means more oxygen is available to the microbes and insects hard at work inside your compost pile. You can find more tips for great compost here.
Top composting benefits for the society
At its core, the act of composting is an act of care for yourself, your community, and the planet. Here are 3 ways you can contribute to society by composting.
#11 Composting at schools helps children
Building composting systems at school with and for students educates them on the importance of reducing their waste and living more sustainably. This kind of hands-on learning helps them develop into more environmentally conscious individuals.
Did you know: School composting systems can be taught in multiple classes: social studies, science, and physical education, to name a few, in order for students to achieve a holistic understanding of the benefits of compost.
#12 Builds stronger food systems
When everything in the food system that goes to ‘waste’ is recycled back into the soil to grow more food, we all benefit. It’s an incredibly simple concept that is totally possible to enact. Curbside pickup composting in cities, backyard compost setups, and countertop composting machines are all doing their part to close the loop on our food system, making fresh and healthy food more accessible and more sustainable.
Did you know: Hundreds of cities across the U.S. have implemented curbside compost pickup systems, which just means all you have to do is empty your food waste into a bucket every week, and a compost company will pick it up, very much like a trash or recycling service.
#13 Supports local communities
Composting can be a community effort! Even if you yourself do not have a garden, chances are your neighbor does! Community gardens are an amazing way to connect with other people in your area who are interested in working with the land and healing our relationship with food. Once you get your own composting operation up and running, reach out to your local community garden and see if they could use some extra organic matter. Chances are, they would be ecstatic to get their hands on it!
Local, community-based food systems are the most sustainable solutions to the climate crisis.
Did you know: Community gardens have actually been shown to increase food security in California.
7 great resources on composting tips and tricks for beginners
If you’re ready to get started now, don’t wait! We’ve hand-picked the 7 best blogs, videos, articles, and books to check out to get motivated to compost!
- The Compost Gardener Blog- This blog is the perfect place to start if you’re ready to take a deep dive down the compost rabbit hole. Any question you could possibly have about compost is here, including how to make compost flooring.
- The Ultimate Guide to Indoor Composting- This guide makes starting your own composting practice look simple and fun. You’ll find tons of tips and tricks here, as well as a comprehensive list of the different methods of indoor composting.
- Epic Gardening: 6 Ways to Compost- If you are excited about composting because you want to grow a thriving garden, check out the Epic Gardening YouTube channel. Here you’ll find all the best advice for gardeners, including how to make the most out of your food waste!
- The Rodale Book of Composting by Deborah Martin- This is the essential guide for the modern composter. The revised edition includes tips for country and city dwellers alike and is the only book on composting you need on your bookshelf.
- The EPA’s Composting Basics- The science-lovers and analysts should come to the front: this article will teach you everything you need to know about the chemical processes that go into composting.
- Compost Guide Blog- This blog is the simplest, most straightforward comprehensive guide you could find on the internet.
- Compost City by Rebecca Louie- Just because you live in a small city apartment absolutely does not mean you can’t compost. Check out this book on how to compost in urban environments–and admire the stunning illustrations!
Trying to live more sustainably often involves sacrifice. In order to lessen our impact on the planet, we give things up. We use our vehicles less, we decide to forgo some produce that was shipped from far away, or we sacrifice an extra bit of money in order to buy products that are more earth-friendly.
What’s great about composting is, not only does it allow us to live more sustainably, but it also gives us the opportunity to create something. The composting process does not involve giving something up – rather, it’s a way to get the most out of what you have and create something valuable for yourself and your community. If you’re still hesitant about starting your own composting system, the Lomi countertop composter could not make the process easier. Check out what people are saying about Lomi here.
Written by: Jess Savage