Composting is one of the easiest and greenest things we can do and the rewards are tremendous.
So, WHY is composting so important? There are numerous reasons, but some of the most important: 1) Our landfills won’t fill up as fast, 2) Composting turns food scraps into healthy soil that can be utilized in many ways and 3) Compost helps prevent plant diseases 4) It reduces the need for fertilizers and chemicals 5) Conserves water and 6) (the big one) It reduces greenhouse gas emissions/prevents pollution that contributes to global warming/climate change. When food decomposes in a landfill with no oxygen, it produces methane, a greenhouse gas that traps 84% more heat than carbon dioxide. Keeping foods and landscape waste from the landfills reduces methane gas. Scientists attribute the rise in global temperature to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions over the last 100 years.
There are a variety of ways to compost.
Backyard/At-home Composting: SWALCO has sold backyard compost bins at reduced prices for several years. Although the annual May Compost Bin, Rain Barrel and Native Plant Sale sponsored by SWALCO and the Forest Preserves has been cancelled, the agency is hopeful that they may be able to offer bins, barrels and accessories later this year. Leaves and other yard material are some of the building blocks for good compost and you can divert your food waste from the landfill at the very same time.
HOW TO: There are various ways to compost and participate in an action that can have such a colossal impact locally and beyond. Backyard composting can be done easily in just a small spot or corner in your yard. Fruit & vegetable scraps are collected and mixed with yard trimmings and other materials in an outdoor compost bin or pile. If you don't have space for a pile, or the inclination to maintain a bin, consider lasagna or sheet gardening, You can build a layered compost pile right where you plan to plant. This results in healthy, fertile soil right from the start. The thin layers make for an easy process which requires no watering or turning. And don’t forget, you don’t have to garden to compost at home or on-site. Many people do this just for the environmental and social benefits alone. You can also simply bury the scraps directly in your garden. It’s an extremely easy method which is often referred to as trench composting. There are slight advantages and disadvantages to each of these different methods. It really comes down to individual situations, logistics and preference. We do believe that a contained bin is ideal for an urban, residential area like Lake County, but the composting pages of our website has information on other forms of composting which you can use in the meantime until you are able to purchase a bin.
Indoor Composting: Vermicomposting or Bokashi are excellent options for those who live in apartments or small space, utilizing a small bin with worms or an anaerobic process with a fermenting method to break things down.
Commercial Composting/Curbside Pick-up of Yard and Food Waste: Residents in numerous villages/cities in Lake County have options and programs for curbside yard and food waste pick-up. Avon, Ela, Fremont, Lake Villa, Shields, and Warren Townships also have formal programs in the unincorporated regions. With commercial composting, meat, dairy and a few other products can be included in the list of what can be composted using this method. We’re encouraging everyone to check with your Village, City, or Township along with your waste haulers to see what programs are available in your neighborhood.
SWALCO encourages everyone to take a look at the different options available and find out more about the amazing things composting can do not only for the local community, but for this world. If your town offers a curbside program, and you haven’t already done so, get on board! Get your families and neighbors involved and share this information. Composting is a powerful solution to many issues we are facing today. Practices like these can decrease our footprints on this planet and bring significant change.