Many rural communities are encouraging household waste reduction. These initiatives can take many forms, but the "pay as you throw" approach is one that many communities are taking. In the program, residents are encouraged to recycle and reduce waste through the use of official municipal trash bags. These bags are sold at a cost which covers a portion of waste removal, usually a couple of dollars a bag. The system is paired with a recycling program for bottles, cans, paper, cardboard and plastic.
Many families are finding that composting can further reduce their cost when participating in a "pay as you throw" programs by reducing the amount of household waste going into the municipal bags. Composting has an added benefit of producing a free, organic soil amendment that can improve your lawn or garden’s health. According the Environmental Protection Agency, a typical household can remove about 700 pounds of organic waste from the landfill by composting yard and household organic waste. Additionally you’ll be able to save money on fertilizers, mulch and other gardening supplies when you make your own compost.
A compost system needs four things to be effective: brown matter, green matter, air and water. Brown matter can be comprised of dead leaves, stick, branches, while green matter is grass clippings, coffee grounds, vegetables. Because the microbes which create organic compost are aerobic—needing air to survive— you’ll want to ensure that the compost doesn’t get too compacted. Finally water is also needed to move the composting process along. Compost piles generally need a little turning with a shovel or pitchfork to redistribute materials and to keep oxygen in the compost. For beginners, the Environmental Protection Agency’s website has excellent information about composting, what materials can and cannot be composted, and the science behind composting.
Traditionally compost piles are constructed outdoors in an out of the way location in the yard. There are many useful solutions for the gardener, including bins, barrels, pens and other units to assist in the turning and processing of compost. Compost needs to be at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit to do its work, so in many areas a compost pile will go dormant during cold weather then start up again naturally in the spring.
Indoor Compost Solutions
With the increasing emphasis on reducing household waste, we became interested in some of the solutions that have been developed for use in the home. Nature Mill is a company that has made indoor composting as simple as you can get, with no odor. The unit fits neatly into a cabinet and can process up to 120 pounds of food waste each month. The Nature Mill turns and heats the material, and activates the added cultures the company makes. Food waste can be added regularly at any time, and compost is ready after two weeks, when the small red light comes on. The unit requires electricity to work.
Another convenient way to deal with food waste indoors until its ready to go outdoors is the Odor Free Compost Caddy. This plastic resin tote has an activated charcoal filter to keep your kitchen fresh and can hold up to 2.5 gallons of food waste to transport to your outdoor compost pile. It saves you time normally wasted on frequent trips between the kitchen and your compost pile. For self-contained outdoor compost bins, compostbins.com offers many sizes and designs of bin systems to suit most households.