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How To Reduce Food Waste By Composting And What You Need To Start

·4-min read
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Grow plants using your freshly made compost with the

Biovessel composter, create the makings of nutrient-rich fertilizer with a multi-chamber living composter and quickly break down food scraps in a matter of hours with an electric composter by Vitamix. (Photo: Amazon)" data-caption="Grow plants using your freshly made compost with the Biovessel composter, create the makings of nutrient-rich fertilizer with a multi-chamber living composter and quickly break down food scraps in a matter of hours with an electric composter by Vitamix. (Photo: Amazon)" data-rich-caption="Grow plants using your freshly made compost with the Biovessel composter, create the makings of nutrient-rich fertilizer with a multi-chamber living composter and quickly break down food scraps in a matter of hours with an electric composter by Vitamix. (Photo: Amazon)" data-credit="Amazon" data-credit-link-back="" />

Starting this year, homes and business across the state of California will need to rethink the concept of food waste and the impact excess scraps have on the environment. In an effort to reduce the amount of materials going into landfills, a new California policy, which will take full effect by 2024, will require residents to collect their food scraps together along with their yard trimmings and place them into curbside collection bins used for composting.

Robert Reed works with Recology, the San Francisco based waste management company responsible for heading California’s composting efforts. He told HuffPost the policy is an important step in sustainability and preservation because composting is equally and possible more beneficial than traditional recycling in our efforts to help protect the environment.

″[It] saves landfill space and reduces greenhouse gases,” he added.

In fact, “landfills are responsible for 12% of the global methane emissions, a greenhouse gas that is 34% more potent than CO2,” according to Seema Prabhu, program director of Trash Hero, an organization aimed at achieving a zero-waste future,

Reed also noted composting has a direct effect in preserving precious top soils needed for water conservation, growing vegetation, protecting vital bee populations and even reducing wild fire risk.

It’s not just California taking note of the benefits of composting. According to Reed, states like Vermont have already implemented similar measures along with over 150 cities and dozens of universities.

You don’t have to give away your food scraps in municipals bins, however. With the help of at-home composting systems, you can give new life to all organic matter, from discarded banana peels to used coffee grounds, eggshells and apple cores.

Using either electrical, outdoor or vermicomposting methods, you can break down food scraps into usable matter in the form of liquid (compost tea or bokashi, a Japanese term for fermented organic matter) and dry substances in order to create nutrient-rich fertilizer ideal for personal plants or community green spaces.

Electrical indoor composters use heat and grinding elements to rapidly break down scraps, while vermicomposting utilizes worms to decompose vegetation, creating a byproduct called worm castings that makes a healthy soil additive filled with diverse microorganisms. Outdoor methods usually involve a vessel that traps heat to break down food scraps without the need for worms, however, both vermicomposting and outdoor non-electric composting can take up to six months to create a fertilizer.

Even if you’re a city dweller with little access to green spaces, Prabhu said, at-home composting systems can still be a viable and easy option.

“If you have a balcony, you can also grow your own veggies or herbs in a mix of compost, diluted bokashi and soil, which is not only satisfying but a great way to reduce the distance between your food and your table,” Prabhu said.

The impact of composting goes much further when it comes to eliminating global waste as a whole.

“We often see that once people start separating their trash, they become more aware of their consumption habits. It becomes obvious to them how much they are throwing away, both food and other items like packaging, and they naturally begin to develop habits to reduce this amount ― the ultimate goal,” Prabhu said.

Whether you want start collecting your food scraps or create nutritious soil for your community garden, there are accessible means of composting that work for every budget and location. Read the list below to see a few main at-home composting systems as well what you will need to do in order to maintain them.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.

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