How to Start Composting

earth-machineIts easier than you might think. With the right accessories, compost has gone mainstream, making it much easier than before. As with anything, the right gear makes all the difference in the world.

Composting is a natural process that turns organic material into rich soil like material, used to spread around in gardens and planters.

What do you need to get started?

  • A kitchen composting pail – You can find attractive, stainless steel pails at Sur La Table and Kitchen Kaboodle or the like. Dishwasher safe and contain a carbon filter that completely eliminates any odor. Keep the pail near the sink.
  • An earth machine – These are large outdoor composters for yard debris and kitchen scraps. They have a lid and floor to keep out rodents.
  • A long-handled stirring tool
  • Yard debris

So to get started, just save your fruit and veggie scraps for three to four days in your kitchen pail then take it outside to dump them into the earth machine. The machine breaks everything down quickly, even in the cold.

What to compost and what not to compost:

  • Do compost your kitchen scraps such as, produce peelings, onion skins, vegetables, fruits, coffee grinds and egg shells.
  • Do add small pieces of cardboard, such as toilet paper rolls.
  • Do add food that has been cooked.
  • Do Not add any meat, fats or dairy products.
  • Do Not add pet manure or empty your kitty litter box into the compost.

Biodegradable Basics

cocoa-bowlsGo green in some unlikely places with these earth-friendly housewares.

TablewareGrenware ecology & design: Dinner plates and bowls made renewable plant fiber from bamboo and rice hulls. In proper conditions it will biodegrade in as little as 4 months.

LinensLoolo Textiles: Every pillow or blanket we make uses our own hand and machine knit biodegradable textiles available in a full range of colors. Yes, you can throw them in your composter at the end of their useful life and they will biodegrade within 1 year.

Trash CansUmbra: The colorful Artala cans are made of Virgin polypropylene a plastic that is engineered to break down 10 times faster than that of standard plastic cans.

PensGrassroots: Biodegradable corn pen made from Mater-Bi, a revolutionary new material derived from cornstarch. This means that unlike conventional plastics that never breakdown, this green pen will disintegrate in about 12 months after being discarded.

PlantersCoir: This unique product, which is exclusive to ecosource Home & Garden, is made from coconut fiber and natural rubber. Biodegrades easily.

Ken Singh Passionate Composter

253585_5432Yesterday we were talking about how San Francisco was the first large city to start curbside composting and today I found an article about Ken Singh, a passionate composter who has acquired clients like Whole Foods, Nordstrom and Arizona State University after he started making his own compost, in huge quantities. Due to the poor soil on his land and his goal to grow healthy organic food, Ken came up with a compost that was rich and high in micro-herds, literally turning trash into treasure as a compost.

Below is from AZcentral.com.

Singh turns landscaping waste and other organic matter into a rich compost that fertilizes his farm and everything from the lawn at Gammage Auditorium to organic gardens and golf- course fairways.

Singh Farms, on 20 acres leased from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, has a growing reputation as a hub of sustainable, organic farming. Chefs rave about the produce that Ken and Lee Singh grow, and landscapers and gardeners are amazed at the results they get with the farm’s compost.

For the Arizona State University, Singh takes the landfill they send him and over the course of 6 months composts it and then returns it to the university as fertilizer, saving the university about $20,000 in dumping fees since they started.

These sustainable practices that make this rich soil are what has turned Ken Singhs barren dessert patch into a thriving oasis that has lined up business with ASU, Whole Foods, Nordstrom and the Desert Botanical Garden. This is proof that green dreams can make great business ideas too.

San Francisco on Composting

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While visiting San Francisco I found that it was much cleaner than I had originally thought. It had been almost 14 years since the last time I visited but the city on this visit overwhelmed me with its beauty.

72% – The amount of waste San Francisco doesn’t put in a landfill.

From the Earth911.com – Cities of Change

There is always environmental news about the city of San Francisco, and it is well deserved. Not only has the city pledged to be zero waste by 2020, but San Francisco also boasts the highest recycling rate in the nation – a whopping 72 percent.

This is partly due to San Francisco’s stringent recycling and composting law. The new law will make recycling and composting mandatory. If recyclable or compostable items are found in the garbage bins, the resident will be warned on the first offense. Repeat offenders will be issued fines of $100 for small businesses and single-family homes and up to $1,000 for large businesses and multi-unit buildings.

“Clearly, mandatory recycling measures pay off,” says San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. “If we’re going to reach a recycling rate of 75 percent in 2010 and zero waste in 2020, we need to make sure that residents and businesses are taking full advantage of our composting and recycling programs.”

But recycling initiatives are just part of San Francisco’s environmental efforts. The city has also made laws to further clean energy and reduce its carbon footprint. These initiatives include:

  • Clean Technology
  • Biodiesel Access Task Force
  • Resource Efficient Building Task Force
  • Urban Environmental Accords
  • Peak Oil Preparedness Task Force