Bugs, gross. Dirt, don’t wanna ruin my mani. I’m a city girl through and through, but my inner hippie shines through when it comes to doing my part to be more conscious about the environment we live in.
Here’s some quick info: According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we have 12 years to get our act together to avoid a total climate catastrophe. And that was last week, so it’s technically 11 years and 51 weeks.
I’ll save you some reading. According to the report, if we don’t act now to stop the increasing rise in earth temperature, the planet will experience a significant increase in drought and flooding. The increasing temperature will also cause rising sea levels, which will lead to millions upon millions of people displaced. Holy crap.
After reading about this report and staring at my baby, I’ve decided I’m going to need you to do me a favor. I’m going to need you to start composting, or do whatever speaks to you as a way to turn this ship around. Something I love about my tribe of readers is that you are the type of person whose inner hippie shines through enough to take massive action.
If you want the biggest impact, start composing if you don’t already. If you are new to composting, it’s just the process of taking our organic material -- like yard trimmings, that well-intentioned butternut squash, and the leftover food on your kid’s plate -- and let it rot until it breaks down into nutrient-rich soil. It’s kind of like magic. We use that magical soil to feed plants so they can grow healthy and create oxygen for us.
Luckily for many of us, many cities, including Austin, have started composting programs. These programs are aimed at reducing the amount of waste that goes into landfills because almost half of what we are sending to the landfills is biodegradable. In the landfill, the organic matter is sealed in plastic bags which prevent oxygen from entering. Without oxygen, the organic material produces methane as they break down.
Methane is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere, warms up the planet and displaces oxygen which, as a Clinical Certified Nutritionist I can tell you, ain’t great for your health. We’re giving cow farts a run for their money. Since throwing our food and lawn waste in the landfill is the number one way humans release methane into the air, the most powerful change is to start composting.
You can compost practically anywhere, even if your city doesn’t have a program. Here are some tips I want to share with you so that you can be a successful composter no matter what your situation.
First, make sure you have one of your city’s composting collection bins and know when they’re going to pick it up each week. In Austin, we are given a green bin that is picked up every week when your trash is picked up.
Secondly, make sure you have a way to collect the compost in your home. I keep a cute little composting bin like this one with a BPI certified compostable bag inside so that I can just toss my food scraps and leftovers as I clean up. These bags make your bin way less gross and attractive to flies. Once my bin is full, I tie up the compostable bag and toss it in my larger bin outside. Easy peasy!
Finally, you will need to check with your city to see what you can throw in those bins. In Austin, we can compost just about anything that naturally biodegrades like….
So if you are eating something and you think to yourself, “I don’t know if this would naturally break down,” then maybe do a gut check to see if you really want it going into your body. :)
For those of you without a program, you can still get in the composting game. Home composting is similar to the city program with a few tweaks and limitations.
First, ya gonna need a composter (or ideally two) like this one to keep in your backyard. Next, you can start to collect most of your organic material like...
NOTE: You do not want to put cooked food or meat (raw or cooked) in a home compost because you won’t be able to get the temperatures high enough for it all to break down and you will be left with yuck. What you do want to do is make sure you have a good mix of foodstuff to yard trimmings and make sure it’s getting mixed around every few days. Before you know it, you will have lovely compost to spread in your garden so that your vegetables, flowers, or trees will be the happiest on the block.
Composting, whether through your city or in your own backyard, is an easy way we can take care of our health and our planet.
P.S.- Full Disclosure: I lied about the getting my mani dirty. I make my husband take out the compost 100% of the time.
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