The most compelling reason to compost is a reduction in greenhouse gases. Organic waste that goes to landfill is likely to degrade to methane, a more damaging greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Some landfills take advantage of this fact and collect the methane and other gases to use as fuel but it would be better to avoid producing it in the first place. A poorly managed compost heap can also release quite a bit of methane into our atmosphere so I am mindful of this as I carefully manage my heap.
Composting has many other indirect sustainability benefits. Composting or supplying kitchen waste for someone else to compost makes you quite aware of any food waste you may be generating. I started composting because I was wasting too much food (those salad mixes, left too long, the fruit you had good intentions of eating) but now I find that I waste a lot less. That’s why my compost heap is now always hungry!
Of course there is the finished compost that should be produced at the end of it all. While I’m not a fantastic gardener, I still enjoy trying to grow my own fruit and vegetables when I can. To do this successfully you really need a continual supply of compost. Growing your own food places less demands on the environment in terms of less packaging, processing and transport.
I personally also enjoy the continual learning that is involved. A compost heap and the soil that it eventually ends up in are very complex little ecosystems. I have a background in degradative enzymes, so I love to ponder what might be going on in the compost heap on a human, micro, and subcellular level, thinking about the biology but also the biochemistry of the system and how all of the physics and chemistry of the microenvironments within the heap shift and change and interact.
In terms of the compost collective, I hope to learn lots about engaging with my local community so that we can successfully share resources and learn off each other. Will I be able to engage people who haven’t put much thought into where their waste ends up? Who are not interested in composting, or setting aside their kitchen wastes? I’m prepared for all sorts of issues and challenges that may arise (I think!) and I’m especially looking forward to meeting anyone in my local community that would appreciate their kitchen wastes going to a better place 🙂