Backyard Compost

Why & How to Compost at Home

Reduce Greenhouse Gases

Bacteria helps our waste break down. In a landfill, there is no oxygen and these bacteria release powerful and harmful greenhouse gases (GHG). In a year, the organic waste from four people will release more GHG than a car does. If organic waste is composted, bacteria can use oxygen to turn our waste into a useful soil product. This releases very little GHG and makes our soil healthier. Healthy soil can actually trap and hold GHG. This means that keeping our waste out of landfills also helps keep our environment healthy!

Act on Climate Change

The World Health Organization calls climate change the greatest health threat of our lives. Most of us have already felt the effects of climate change. This problem is huge but there are things each one of us can do to help. Something like composting can help us prepare for climate change while also making it less of a threat.

Reduce Landfill Waste

Food and yard waste (“organic waste”) make up about one third (or 33%) of all our waste. This waste can be treated in two ways. It can be buried in a landfill or it can be composted and used to make our soil healthier. Landfills are very expensive and can only hold so much waste. By composting this organic waste instead, our landfills last longer. This saves everyone a lot of money in the long run.

Create Healthy Soil

There are more people on earth today than ever before. To feed all these people, we have been using more and more man-made fertilizers. Making, moving, and using fertilizers releases a lot of harmful GHG. Still, our soil’s health is getting worse. Fertilizers are like Band-Aids and don’t really solve the problem of unhealthy soil.

Protect our Water

Fertilizers we use on our soil can be washed into our water. This is happening more often because of climate change, our soil’s poor health, and our increasing use of fertilizers. Once in our water, fertilizers can do serious damage. Toxic blue-green algae grows faster and bigger when it can feed on fertilizers. Warmer weather also makes it easier for these blooms to thrive. This can close our beaches, get into our drinking water, and weaken local economies.

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5 Steps to Backyard Compost

  1. Choose a location: A place that will receive some sun throughout the day. It should be at least two-feet away from any structures and in a well-drained spot.
  2. Decide on a pile or bin: Composting doesn’t require special equipment. You can start a simple pile in your backyard or purchase a bin for it. A bin may discourage animals from investigating. But either will work!
  3. Load it up with materials: Fill your compost with 60% brown leaves and 40% grass clippings and food scraps. As you continue to compost, add brown leaves to help maintain a balance of carbon and nitrogen.
  4. Add water: You might need to water the compost from time to time. The microbes need moisture to survive – but not too much. It should be as damp as a wrung-out sponge.
  5. Turn your pile: Once a week, use a shovel or pitchfork to turn your compost, breaking up clumps and infusing oxygen into the material so your microorganisms thrive. You’ll keep your compost healthier and it will work faster.

It is that simple! Over time, you’ll create a rich soil that smells like a forest…

Ready to go even further? Help your school become one of the dozens of composting schools in Ontario! Read more about starting a school composting program.