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Composting Tips & Benefits

Heart hands holding compost

Looking to learn more about composting? Composting benefits gardens and landscapes, and on a broader level, helps reduce methane gases for a healthier environment. With more than half the space of California landfills filled with organics like food scraps, yard trimmings, paper, and cardboard, consider taking a closer look at composting and start a new habit at home.

How Does Composting Help the Environment?

 Composting reduces the need for commercial soil and fertilizers and adds nutrients and beneficial microbes to your garden. Compost retains a large volume of water, helping prevent erosion, reducing run off and promoting vegetation. With the onset of SB 1383, separating food from the main waste stream is now law. Composting could be a great fit for forming new practices under SB 1383, not only nurturing your home garden but, helping the environment.

How Do I Compost?

  1. Select a composting bin. Check online options (and read the reviews) to see what compost bin is best for you. For homemade options, check out this great article by Earth 911.
  2. Use brown and green organics. Organics like leaves are considered “brown” while organics like leftover vegetables are considered “green.” Make sure your compost has equal parts of each, and break or chop both into one inch or less before placing them into a composter.
  3. Test the wetness. Compost piles should be around 40 – 60% water. A good test: Put on a pair of gloves and squeeze the pile. If water gushes out, it’s too wet. If you can’t squeeze any water out, it’s too dry. Aim for the consistency of a wrung-out sponge.
  4. Turn the compost regularly. Every week or so, turn or stir the pile and remember to keep filling it with equal parts brown and green material. You want to feel heat coming from the pile!
  5. Harvest and use. When the compost dark brown and has a crumbly consistency, you can now use it your garden. Click here for Earth 911’s composting infographic.

Why Should I Separate Organics from the Waste Bin?

Whether separating organics for your compost pile or for the green bin, it’s an important step worth repeating. If you’re not composting, separating food from the main waste stream is still a must. Residents should be placing organics in the green bin, and what qualifies as organics varies by local waste hauler. Contact your local Recycling Coordinator for details and learn more about SB 1383 and separating organics from the waste stream.

Tips for Organics Bins 

  • Know the program for your city by contacting the local hauler since there may be variations to your specific organic recycling program 

  • Keep your food scraps in the fridge or freezer and empty it directly into the organics cart on your service day. 

  • Layering dry coffee grounds at the base or throughout an organics bin can help absorb and mitigate odors.  

  • Citrus zest and peels are non-toxic options for natural air fresheners and can go directly into the organics bin.  

  • Line your organics container with a piece of paper or paper napkin to absorb any liquids and food waste. 

  • Place a layer of greenwaste (yard clippings, leaves, etc.) in the organics bin before adding your food waste inside. 

  • Consider buying a charcoal filter for your organics bin to mitigate odors. 

Waste Hauler Tip Sheets