benefits of composting

The Amazing Benefits of Composting

​When I first started composting, I asked myself a few questions. Like what are the benefits of composting, and is it really worth it? The answer is definitely yes, composting has many incredible benefits!

What are the benefits of composting? Composting has several significant benefits. It can help the environment by reducing landfill waste and erosion. It keeps your lawn and garden healthy by controlling weeds and keeping pests at bay. It can even help to conserve resources and save you money!

In this article, I'll go over the fantastic benefits of composting. As well as all of the reasons why it makes sense for you to start composting right away.

What Are The Benefits of Composting Food Waste?

I've found that choosing to compost your food waste has a bunch of great benefits. Both for you as an individual, your community, and the world at large.

Composting doesn't take much effort to take advantage of all of these benefits. Just keep a bowl or bin in your kitchen for compostable food scraps. Whenever you prepare food and have waste that can be composted, you can quickly take it out to your garden.

Composting Helps To Reduce Landfill Waste

The United States Environmental Protection Agency says that 28% of food scraps and yard waste that is currently thrown away should be composted instead.

So we can help to reduce more than a quarter of landfill waste just by composting. Not only do we remove this content from landfills. It's better to get organic food waste back into the soil as soon as possible, instead of getting stuck in plastic bags that can take as long as 20 years to decompose.

We might not be able to compost all of our food waste. Things like fats, and dairy products should still go in the trash. But overall, composting can significantly cut down on the amount of garbage your household produces each week.

Composting Improves Soil Drainage

If you've got soil that contains a lot of clay, compost will help to loosen it up and allow for it to drain better. It will also be a lot easier to dig in and work with. Less compact soil also allows for the roots of plants to penetrate more easily.

The opposite is also true for sandy soils where water quickly runs through. In those cases, compost helps to retain water for longer in soil that's prone to drying out quickly.

Composting Improves Biodiversity

Biodiversity simply means “biological diversity”, or the variety of life on our planet. This can range from microorganisms, to insects, plants, and animals. All of these creatures interact in a beneficial way for the environment. Some people argue that without biodiversity there is no future for humanity!

The food scraps you add to your composter don't just break down by themselves. They need the help of worms, fungi, beneficial insects, worms, and other lifeforms to turn them back into soil.

Having a compost pile helps attract these beneficial lifeforms to your yard. An environment with high biodiversity is less likely to be wiped out by pests or weeds and will be better able to withstand changes. You don't want a "dead garden" devoid of the biodiversity that inherently exists in nature.

Composting Helps Add Nutrients Back To The Earth

When you compost, you help to boost soil quality by increasing the amount of micro-nutrients and organic materials in it. It doesn't matter if you're composting on a small or large scale. Both farms and smaller home gardens will flourish with some added compost.

Composting Creates More Neutral Soil

If your home is in an area with naturally acidic or basic soil, compost can help normalize its pH levels back to a range where plants prefer to grow. So if you feel that your soil is either too alkaline or too acidic, adding some compost is a natural and organic way to bring it back under control.

A quick reminder: pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity (some people say sourness or sweetness) of the soil. This is expressed on a scale from 1 to 14. Low values are acid, whereas high values are alkaline (or basic). A pH level of 7 is considered neutral.

compost pH scale

pH levels have a substantial effect on your back yard. In extreme cases it can even poison your plants! You need to know pH levels to keep your garden healthy and make the best decisions for your plants, but you can easily check your garden soil pH with a tester like this one on Amazon.

A good neutral soil with some extra nutrients makes for happy lawns, plants, and gardens.

Composting Helps Keep Pests Away

Some of the nutrients and bacteria found in compost can keep insects and other pests out of your garden with their pesticide-like properties. Compost also helps plants to grow stronger and healthier, so they'll naturally be more disease and pest resistant.

That means less frustration for you seeing all of your plants being eaten by pests, and less need to depend on toxic chemical pesticides to fight them off.

The Environmental Benefits of Composting

Climate change is becoming more and more of a concern each year. So it's important to find ways that we can help make a difference as individuals. Composting is one of those ways.

Composting Helps Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

When food waste breaks down in a landfill, it releases a harmful greenhouse gas called methane. Methane is about 20 times more harmful of a greenhouse gas emission than CO2.

Landfills are currently one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases. Luckily, composting is one way that we can help to cut down on garbage production drastically, and therefore methane emissions.

By putting all of your compostable household waste on the compost pile, you’re helping the planet !

Composting Cuts Down On Vehicle Emissions

Don't forget about all of those garbage vehicles that need to transport the additional waste you don't compost. It adds up fast, and just one neighborhood choosing to compost or not may require another trip to the dump to unload. All the extra time that vehicles are on the road means more CO2 and other emissions going into the atmosphere.

Composting Reduces Soil Erosion

Composting helps soil to retain water and prevents runoff. This is mainly a big issue in an agricultural setting, but also something you'll want to avoid at home too. Erosion can lead to polluted well water or other water sources, as well as leech nutrients out of the soil.

Erosion can cause expensive problems like roadways getting washed out, if not mitigated.

Composting Improves Air Quality

composting vs burning yard waste

One alternative that some people use instead of composting, particularly in more rural areas, is to burn their yard waste. Incinerating yard waste releases particulate matter (also called soot), carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide into the air in large amounts.

If you use fertilizers, bug sprays, or weed killers in your yard, the harmful chemicals in these products also get released into the air when you burn them.

The alternative is that bacteria and fungi can actually break down these molecules during composting instead.

Releasing smoke into the air can lead to asthma and other health problems, so it's best to avoid it and opt for composting instead whenever possible.

Composting Helps To Clean Up Contaminated Soil

During the process of composting, bacteria and fungi can break down volatile organic compounds like hydrocarbons, pesticides, and more. It binds heavy metal contaminants that can't be absorbed or used by plants. And compost also filters the water and air of pollutants.

When food waste ends up in landfills, it can cause chemical reactions with metals buried there to produce toxins. Those toxins can then run off and pollute groundwater nearby.

Composting food waste in your yard instead helps reduce this chemical reaction from occurring.

The Economic Benefits of Composting

OK… Let's say that you don't care about the environment. On the other hand, most of us are interested in saving money !

Composting still makes sense because it also has financial benefits. And you'll still make the world a better place as a result.

It's Cheap To Start Composting

Other methods of going green can be expensive. Maybe you want to help be more eco-friendly, but you can't afford an electric car, to shop locally, or to install solar panels for your roof.

You can start making a difference by composting. All it takes is buying a relatively inexpensive composter.

Here’s a great example of a good value, easy to use compost tumbler on Amazon.

These things are easier to use for most compost beginners !

Or you can even build your own basic compost container yourself with just some spare wood or pallets.

You'll Spend Less Money On Fertilizers and Pesticides

Take the more natural approach to handling pests and soil quality. Composting breaks down food waste into nutrients that plants need to grow, and makes for better soil. It also attracts beneficial nitrogen-producing bacteria.

Composting has a natural pest-reducing effect, and it acts as a mulch to block out weeds. It also makes plants grow healthier and more pest-resistant themselves.

You might find that you can produce so much rich, black compost that you never need to buy fertilizer again.

You'll Spend Less Money On Garbage Bags

If you compost, you might only need one garbage bag per week for your household waste instead of two. Over the year, that will save you 52 bags, which is more than an entire box worth.

Some cities might also limit you to a certain number of bins or bags of garbage that you're allowed to put out each week. You may have to buy tags for additional bags that exceed your limit. Or they might refuse to take extra bags entirely, which will cost you an extra trip to the dump.

Even offices can take advantage of composting to cut down on garbage expenses. Often businesses are charged by the amount of trash they dispose of. So the less you produce, the less it will cost you.

Composting Helps To Conserve Water

Maintaining your lawn and garden can really add up when it comes to your water bill. Especially if you have poor-quality soil. Water comes at a premium these days, so you probably want to cut back as much as possible.

Compost helps to absorb water and slowly release it to the grass and plants in your yard. Once you start applying compost, you'll find that you don't need to water as much as you did before.

Conclusion

No matter what your motivation, composting has numerous benefits. It can help the environment, significantly cut down on the amount of waste going to landfills, and it can even save you money! So if you aren't already composting, why not get started today?