Today, on April 22, 2021, approximately one billion people in nearly 200 countries worldwide are celebrating Earth Day. Since 1970, Earth Day has existed as an annual reminder of the urgency of protecting our planet and promoting universal peace. As many of us now find ourselves spending more time at home and inside than ever, what a wonderful moment for us to pause and honor la tierra madre in all her splendor.
Our Earth Day gift to you is --7 Tips to Start Composting *anywhere and any time!* on Earth Day--is in 7 parts to align with today’s Vowel Vibration of 7. We know what we do right now has a huge impact on future generations. So, pull up a chair, sip a soothing cup of tea, and get excited about the “dirty work” of keeping our planet clean for generations to come.
Happy Earth Day, fellow plant lovers!
WHAT IS COMPOSTING?
To break it down in simple terms, composting is a process of intentionally decomposing organic materials into simpler compounds, both organic and inorganic. It’s a way to take our trash and turn it into treasure rich in plant nutrients by recycling the good stuff to nurture healthier soil.
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
Now we’re getting to the fun stuff . . . here are our 7 tips to start composting, brujas!
- Reduce your food waste at home by saving the leftover parts of your fruits and veggies. Fruit peels, plant skins, tops of food scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells, organic tea bags, and flowers are all organic waste that can be turned into nutrient-rich fertilizer. PLEASE don’t toss them in the trash! Make vitamins for your garden and the earth instead. Don’t mix in animal products like dairy, meat, fish, bones, oil, or any other trash. These will rot the pile and attract pests. (City folk! Avoid putting all trash, recyclables, and food waste in one bag! This is one of the worst contributions to trash management. Your compost can be taken to a local farmers market. Nowadays most cities have a compost pickup service). For those scraps, try making compost stews, ferments, or easy-to-find recipes instead and you have the highest quality and nutrient dense fertilizer around!
- Make a habit of saving your trash with a purpose. Getting started with compost is as easy as finding a receptacle for your “good waste” that has a secure top on it to prevent odors from stinking up your home. Pro tip: stash your compost in the freezer, a bug-and smell-free zone! No need to splurge on anything fancy or expensive you might find on DIY sites -- just use any container with a lid, preferably recycled.
- Look around your space to identify your compost “happy place”. If you’re not able to store your compost in an outdoor garden or in your home freezer, consider starting or joining a community garden. You can also think about fermenting your trash as the Japanese do, farm some tiny worms, or explore other alternatives.
- Layer your greens & browns. Compostables come in two main types: “Greens” and “Browns”. Greens are the wet plant bits like cucumber pulp, carrot tops, and other vegetable stems. Browns include dry materials like twigs, egg cartons, and dried flower stems. Browns go on the bottom of your compost pile. Greens go on top. Some people also add a layer of Browns on top to prevent heavier, wetter materials from getting too soppy. Layering Greens and Browns is a way to “aerate” your compost, a.k.a. let the airflow and the water run through. This allows your compost to become more fertile and nutritious.
- Balance the wet vs. the dry in your compost mix. Experts say each layer of compost should be about 1-2 inches. Ratio recommendations for wet-to-dry (also known as green-to-brown) range from 3-4 parts Brown to 1 part Green to 2 Brown:1 Green ratios. The wet-to-dry balance is important so the Browns can sop up any excess moisture. Keep in mind: there’s no one “right” way to compost! Enjoy the process of experimenting, and see what works best based on the environment inside and outside your home space.
- Be patient . . . and smell your junk (just a lil' bit). Yes, we said it. Smell your trash! Remember, composting is an intuitive process unlike baking or other sciences. Some say a fully broken down compost smells woody or earthy, while others think it’s got a sweet or sour funk to it. The human sense of smell can teach us so much about plants and our own health and wellbeing. Don’t be afraid to sniff the compost from time to time to see how it’s progressing, as this is a major way to know if it's advancing properly or not. Composts can take anywhere between 2-12 months to fully break down depending on how hot, cold, humid, etc. it is where you are. All good things take time.
- Move it around to spread the love. Love, peace, and preservation are at the heart of Earth Day. So goes the composting process. Move the lovely mess around with a stick to let the air flow. This greatly depends what kind of system you're opting to use, but overall a semi-occasional stir works well!) Keep it wet but not too soggy by stirring the pile occasionally.
That’s it! You’re now ready to start composting with whatever you’ve been throwing away. We hope you have fun getting dirty, compost companions ;)
READY TO SPREAD THE LOVE?
Now that you know how to break down your trash, what should you do with the fully broken down compost you’ve created? Besides being great plant food to offer up to enrich the soil of your houseplants and home gardens, your compost can be used in community gardens. Your composting vessels (glass, plastic, etc.) can also be sources of great intergenerational exchange, creativity, and even functionality.
To involve your parents, grandparents, children, lovers, neighbors, and friends in the process, consider making art or furniture out of recycled materials, and then use it to store your compost. In the harmony of this process, you’ll also be investing in your mental and spiritual health as you do your part to help heal Mother Earth.
HUNGRY FOR MORE?
Check out this list of resources via NPR, which includes info about “vermicomposting” and other wildly wonderful ways to play with your trash.