How To Compost Organic Matter—From Veggie Scraps To Ebb Reusable Cloth FiltersBy Faye Lessler |
We love compost. Like, to the point where we bring it up at dinner parties. You may be wondering how stinky food scraps can possibly be so appealing—but hear us out.
Composting our produce scraps, yard clippings, and biodegradable household items (like reusable coffee filters!) is not just a great way to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill, but it also provides a beautiful lesson in how death and decomposition can metamorphosize into the building blocks of new life.
It’s also one of the most impactful things that we can do as individuals to reduce our carbon footprint and cool the planet. The EPA estimates that 20-30% of what we throw away is comprised of organic matter like food scraps and yard waste, with each American contributing around one pound of food waste per day. The problem is that landfills are not the ideal place for organic matter to get broken down.
Landfills create anaerobic environments, meaning that there isn’t any oxygen present. Bacteria and microbes that like anaerobic environments emit methane as they break down our fruits, veggies, and other compostable waste found in landfills. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that warms the atmosphere 84 times faster than co2 in the first 20 years after it’s released, and the EPA estimates that landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the U.S.
Now let’s look at a compost pile. Most compost methods introduce oxygen into the equation, creating an aerobic environment. Because different types of bacteria and microbes are attracted to these environments, the only byproducts of aerobic composting are heat, water, and a small amount of carbon dioxide. That co2 does contribute to atmospheric warming, but when you take into account the amount of co2 that plants growing in soil made from compost can take out of the atmosphere, you’ll see that things more than balance out.
We recognize that there needs to be a greater shift in our systems and the way our culture defines waste in order to solve the climate crisis. However, we also believe that thoughtful, individual choices can make a difference.
We imagine a world where composting is the default and “waste” is no longer a thing. And while we work towards that world in solidarity with countless intertwined movements, we’ll divert as much organic matter from landfills as we possibly can! Won’t you join us?
Here are our top 10 tips for how to get started composting and return your Ebb organic filter back to the Earth once you’re done using it:
- Anyone can compost, even people who live in tiny urban apartments with zero outdoor space. Trust me, I’ve done it!
- Some small-space compost options include:
If a bin full of stinky scraps sitting out on your kitchen counter sounds unpleasant to you (we get it), store your food scraps in the freezer instead. I like to put them in a reusable tupperware with a lid, so it stays nice and neat and I can easily dump it out when it gets full.
- Many cities and towns offer public food scrap dropoff locations at different times of the week, often found at farmers markets. There are also a number of community-led compost services that will come straight to you to pick up your scraps (bonus eco points for bike-powered composters!) and then take them to a local garden or farm. To find these, just Google “your town + compost pickup or dropoff services.”
- For folks lucky enough to have some outdoor space, you can invest in an easy-to-use compost tumbler, or you can build your own bin out of used materials.
- The key to making good compost is the ratio and layering of “greens” and “browns.” Greens are rich in nitrogen, while browns are rich in carbon. Examples of greens include fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, and tea bags. Examples of browns include cotton coffee filters (and other biodegradable reusables), egg cartons, leaves, hay, sawdust, twigs, and cardboard.
- All organic matter does eventually breakdown, but not all of it belongs in your home compost bin. Oily and protein-rich foods like cheese, meat, bones, and cooked oily leftovers will make your compost bin more stinky and likely to attract rats, so it’s best to leave them out unless you’re dropping off your scraps with an industrial composting service. The same goes for all of those “compostable” plastic disposables.
- Different organic matter will take different amounts of time to fully break down. Your Ebb cotton filter may take between 3 weeks to 5 months to fully biodegrade, depending on your particular compost bin’s environment.
- If you’re composting at home, the best part is getting to reap the rewards of beautiful, nutrient rich soil! Over time you’ll start to see lovely, chocolatey brown, crumbly, and moist soil build up in your compost bin. This is perfect for topping up your houseplants, adding to your garden as fertilizer, or just using it like you would any other potting soil.
- Our final and most important tip is this: just start composting! This natural process of decomposition can be done in so many different ways and there’s no one right method for everyone. Start experimenting and find what works best for you. At the end of the day, composting is just good fun.