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Easy Green: What is composting?

by Stephanie Koathes Apr 23, 2018

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Every year the global population is becoming more and more aware of the harmful impact our way of life has on the planet.

There are many ways to go green from investing in solar panels and recycling to electric cars. One of the simplest ways to be a little more environmentally friendly is by composting.

What exactly is composting?
Composting is the natural decomposition of organic, biodegradable material into a nutrient-rich substance known as compost.

Organic wastes such as food scraps and plant cuttings are broken down in a compost bin or heap, in an acceleration of the same process nature uses to break them down.

How to compost?

Backyard composting at home is simple and inexpensive. Organic household waste like raw fruit and vegetable scraps, shredded newspapers, dried twigs and leaves and grass trimmings are layered in a compost bin.

The contents of the compost heap are kept moist and aerated by periodic mixing of the pile, however, most of the work is simply left up to nature.

Finished compost looks like soil–dark brown, crumbly and smells like earth.

Compost with composted earth

What are the benefits?

Composting has a host of benefits for both your garden and the wider environment.

By composting your organic waste you are returning nutrients back into the soil in order for the cycle of life to continue.

Compost is rich in nutrients and can be added to soil to help plants grow.

Compost also enriches the soil with beneficial organisms, helping it to retain moisture and suppresses plant diseases and pests. Since your soil will be in better condition, composting reduces the need for chemical fertilisers that can pollute water sources.


A large percentage of the waste in dumps and landfills is organic.

This material breaks down in landfills anaerobically (without oxygen) producing methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming even more than carbon dioxide.

Composting is a good way to reduce the amount of organic material that ends up producing methane at the dump.

Sources: Green Action Centre, United States Environmental Protection Agency