Compost is a nutrient rich soil amendment that enhances plant growth.

Compost is a nutrient rich soil amendment that enhances plant growth.

Vermicomposting is a great way to manage food waste when  you have limited outdoor space
Image by Shanegenziuk

Vermicomposting is a great way to manage food waste when you have limited outdoor space

Composting can reduce your household waste by as much as 30%
Image by Ben Kerckx

Composting can reduce your household waste by as much as 30%

There are many ways to compost. Choose the method of composting that suits your lifestyle.

There are many ways to compost. Choose the method of composting that suits your lifestyle.

Composting

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According to the EPA, 15% of the American waste stream is food scraps and residues and another 15% of the waste stream is yard waste like leaves, branches, grass, etc. That means compostable organics make up more than 1/4 of the 250 million tons of garbage Americans create every year.

Composting is nature's way of recycling. Composting is the natural biological process that allows biomass to break down, or decompose. The organic matter that remains after the composting process is a dark, crumbly, earth-smelling humus that has many uses and benefits. 

Composting isn't just something gardeners do help their plants grow! Composting is the next step to becoming a better recycler! Composting your food waste is a stewardship behavior that helps protect the Earth for future generations. 

Why Compost? 

Composting is recycling!

  • Composting recycles the water, nutrients, and energy that is inherent in all biomass. These forms of energy would otherwise be wasted if buried in a landfill.

Composting prevents pollution.

  • Composting diverts food and other biodegradable materials from being sent to landfills where these materials produce methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global climate change. 
  • Compost reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, which reduces pollution from the runoff of agri-chemicals.

Compost is a soil amendment and growing medium.

  • Compost is nutrient-rich organic matter that can be added to soils to grow vegetables, fruits, flowers, trees, shrubs, and other plants.
  • Compost supports healthy plant growth by buffering pH, increasing moisture retention, breaking up compacted clay soils, and by supplying humus to nutrient deficient soils.
  • Compost is filled with beneficial insects and microbes that aid in preventing disease and plant pathogens.
  • Compost can be used as a heavy mulch to aid in soil erosion and reduce weeds in lawns and gardens.

Composting saves money.  

  • Once you start collecting your food scraps, you'll be surprised by how much food waste you create. This insight could change the way you shop for food and eventually influence your cooking and eating habits. Less wasted food means fewer wasted dollars for your home or business. 
  • Composting is a form of waste reduction. If you reduce the volume of waste you create, you may be able to reduce the volume of waste you pay to get rid of! This is especially true for businesses in the food service industry. 
  • Making compost means you no longer have to purchase other bagged soil products because you make your own! 

What can be composted?

  • Vegetable skins and shavings and food scraps from cooked vegetables
  • Fruit peels and seeds
  • Starches like cooked rice, bread, pastas, grains
  • Eggshells
  • Nutshells
  • Coffee grounds, coffee filters, teabags
  • Food soiled paper, shredded cardboard, shredded paper bags
  • kitchen paper towels, paper napkins
  • Paper egg cartons
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Landscape Vegetation, grass clippings
  • Holiday trees, plants, dying flowers
  • Leaves, branches, untreated wood chips
  • Rabbit, chicken, cow, horse manures

For backyard composting as well as worm-composting, it’s not recommended to compost meat, fish, and dairy products. These materials can be composted in large scale commercial composting operations. 

How to Get Started

There are many different ways to start and maintain a compost pile. Choose the method of composting that best suits your lifestyle! 

To learn more please visit our page compost resources. 

Contact

Angelina Peone
Recycling and Composting Educator
ap2267@cornell.edu
(518) 372-1622

Last updated June 6, 2017