How much garbage do you think you make? According to the EPA, Americans generate almost five pounds of garbage each day. That's 29 pounds a week and 1,600 pounds a year. A staggering amount for each of us to send to the landfill.
But here's the good news.
About two thirds of your garbage can be composted without spending much time or money.
Since compost is actually a pile of garbage rotting in your yard you might imagine that it smells and attracts pests and flies. I'm not really sure how this science works, but I am sure that my compost pile doesn't smell or attract bugs...only the occasional curious dog.
Before we get to the ease of composting, let's get to the importance.
Composting household waste saves the earth from the damage caused by disposing of waste at garbage facilities which contribute to methane emissions.
It is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. It also recycles your food, creating nutrients for your garden and reduces the need for nasty artificial fertilizer.
There are three things you need to successfully compost: an indoor bin, and outdoor bin, and a big dose of patience.
Outdoor bins are readily available for purchase, but can also be easily made out of recycled materials. When we moved into our house we had an adorable two year old and very little time on our hands. We used cinder blocks that had been sitting under my mom's back porch for a couple of decades to build a divided rectangle about one foot high in the back corner or our yard. One side is the "sleeping" compost and one side is the "active" compost.
Twelve years later, we find ourselves with more time on our hands, but no need to replace our makeshift compost center. We simply fill one side until it has reached the top and then leave it for a year while we fill the other side.
Your indoor bin can be any container with a cover (you definitely need a cover because your indoor bin WILL attract fruit flies). Ours looks like a mini tin garbage can. My super cool friend June has a giant glass jar on her kitchen island so that you can see all the vibrant colors of her family's discarded fruits and vegetables making a lovely ever-changing centerpiece.
When you indoor bin is full, simply dump it in the "active" side of your outdoor bin and soon (well, actually, after a really long wait) it will become nutrient rich organic material to feed your baby plants.
Below is a list of resources to get you started with your own composting system.
But first, here's another conservation pro tip.
Thanks to a partnership between the city of Des Plaines and the Midwest Water Reclamation District, all residents of Des Plaines are entitled to up to four(!) rain barrels, connection hardware, and delivery free of charge. Rain barrels save you money, conserve water supplies, and prevent pollution.
Delivery takes up to 12 weeks, so now is the perfect time to download your application here and get your barrel in time for the hot rainy days of summer.