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Composting for the Planet

Composting for the Planet Mielie Mailer

Reduce food waste to slow climate change

Over one-third of all of the food that's produced on Earth is not consumed. It is either spoiled in transit or thrown out by consumers, who typically purchase too much and toss any excess. The damage - roughly 1.3 billion tons of food, worth nearly $1 trillion at retail prices.

In a world where an estimated 805 million people go to bed hungry each night, the social and moral implications of all that waste are unjust to the extreme.  And then there is the environmental cost producing all that food, for nothing, which in itself is staggering.

3.3. billion metric tons of carbon dioxide are released each year through the production, harvesting, transporting and packaging of wasted food. Once this wasted food reaches landfill it continues to wreak havoc on the planet - it begins to decompose and release methane gas which has a warming potential of roughly 21 times that of carbon dioxide.

Benefits of Composting

This is where composting comes in. By composting our food and other organic scraps, you're keeping them out of landfill. Composted waste does not release methane and closes the nutrient cycle.

A note on waste

Environmentalism is at times heavily focused on the idea of ‘waste,’ because it is such a key issue to the health of the planet. However, ‘waste’ is a human concept and also a human problem. In nature, there is no waste, as every living thing serves a greater purpose which surpasses it's own existence and contributes to the growth of something else. It’s easy to forget this crucial fact, but when you delve into composting your own ‘waste’ you learn to appreciate the cycle of life which involves decay and new growth in equal measure, and you come to understand that everything has a place in the world.

What is Compost(ing)

Compost is decayed organic matter. 'Organic matter' encompasses everything from a twig, to a banana peel to a Mielie Mailer. When you mix organic matter together in a compost pile instead of landfill, they break down naturally into a nutrient-rich fertilizer, which a) does not release methane gas and b) which replenishes soil in our gardens or potplants. 

And this act of replenishment is of particular importance today: the world needs healthy topsoil to grow 95% of its food – but it's rapidly disappearing. Without efforts to rebuild soil health, through initiatives like composting, we could lose our ability to grow enough nutritious food to feed the planet’s population. 

How to Compost

We've covered the why you should compost, now we explain how to compost. Before we do, let's clear up one common misconception - that compost smells bad and attracts flys. When done properly your compost pile will simply smell like fresh earth.

Composting Basics:

  • Browns: materials such as dead leaves, branches, and twigs.
  • Greens: materials such as grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds

Garden Composting

  1. Select a dry, and shady spot.
  2. Add brown and green materials as they are collected. Try and distribute these in even layers, i.e. browns-greens-browns-greens.
  3. Make sure larger pieces are chopped or shredded. 
  4. Wet dry materials as they are added to the pile.
  5. Once your compost pile begins to look like a mound, begin to mix grass clippings and green waste into the pile whenever you have these materials available. 
  6. When adding fruit and vegetable waste, bury it under 30cm of compost material.
  7. Optional: Cover the compost with a tarp/cover to keep it moist.
  8. Finally: when the material at the bottom is dark and rich in colour, your compost is ready to use. This could take 2-months to two-years. 

Indoor Composting:

  1. This is done on a much smaller scale, but the process is the same
  2. Instead of selecting a dry and shady spot in your garden, purchase a compost container and keep it near your standard bin.
  3. Compost could be ready in as little as 2-weeks. 

 For more information, check out these incredible resources:

Or watch the Sustainable Seas Trust Video below:

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