Obviously gardening is a main focus of the site, and composting is a huge part of organic gardening at home, but even if you don't have a garden or a yard you might find some benefits to composting anyway. One very practical reason is it cuts down on trash. If you live somewhere you have to bring your own trash to the dump or have a bin provided by the town with limited space, composting will turn a good size portion of that garbage into something beneficial you can use or give away to a lucky friend.
What is composting anyway?
If you want to do some detailed reading on the subject, we have covered it here in our Gardening section. If you want the short version, the picture above pretty much sums it up.
I don't have a garden. Why should I be composting?
Even if you have no intention to do anything with the finished product there is one great reason to still consider composting - less trash. It's an issue that doesn't get nearly enough attention, and this Washington Post article does a great job of laying out all the reasons why we should all be working towards getting as close to zero waste as possible. It is even debatable whether or not recycling is helping. Much of what gets tossed in recycle bins ends up in landfills, and the process to recycle the materials that we can actually reuse is expensive and requires burning fossil fuels in large trucks and processing plants to make it happen.
By taking the step to compost you are making an instant difference just by the simple fact that you are filling up less trash bags. Trash bags are made of plastic, a material estimated to take up to 1000 years to decompose. If you can fill up 1 fewer every month or so, that impact really will be felt for a long time to come. Some scientists believe plastic doesn't ever really decompose, it just breaks into smaller and smaller pieces until it appears to have "broken down", but is sure to remain in the water and food chain for who knows how long.
How much would I really reduce my trash by?
A lot. If you're willing to give it a try you will be shocked how often you fill up you're little bucket with kitchen scraps alone. If you're a coffee drinker, that's a filter full of coffee grinds going in the compost vs. the trash every day (possibly twice a day if you have kids). Every egg shell, apple core, banana peel, broccoli stem goes right in. Oh and that eggplant you bought 3 months ago and totally forgot about until it smelled like a raccoon died in your refrigerator - toss that baby in there too.
For a full list of what you can and can not compost, click here.
I'm not a huge fan of putting effort into things. How hard is it?
Again, we have covered the process in detail here if you want to get some more information before deciding if it's for you. But here is the short version:
1. You keep a bucket or some kind of container with a lid on your counter top
2. Fill the bucket with any part of a fruit/vegetable you don't eat, coffee grinds and egg shells
3. Buy a bin, make one, or dig a hole somewhere
4. When the kitchen bucket is full, dump it in the bin/hole
That's pretty much the extent of it. After a year or so fungus and worms turn it into a rich fertilizer that you can use in your garden, spread across your lawn, or just let it sit there if you really don't want to deal with the end result. Eventually that abandoned compost pile will be absorbed back into the earth providing food and nutrients for billions of soil dwelling organisms, a much better ending than the trash bag it would have ended up in otherwise.