What are the Benefits of composting?
The times in which we’re currently living require that we do more for our planet. You being here means you already are thinking about the benefits of composting, but perhaps you’re not convinced yet?
The benefits of composting include not only a positive ecological impact but also advantages in the health and economic realms.
Of course, making compost is more than just gathering organic waste. And if it’s not done correctly, it may end up just making a huge mess… a very smelly one indeed! There are different components and methods of composting, and they all offer their own unique benefits. Depending on your space, time, and materials, the technique that suits you may vary. But there’s nothing to worry about! Composting is just easy as pie once you know what you’re doing!
Today, we’re not just focusing on composting techniques, as it is crucial to understand the whole process and its full benefits for the soil, yourself, and the environment.
What’s more ecological than turning your garbage into a natural fertilizer? I can only think of a few things. Soon you’ll see why everybody should compost!
Before we begin, and in case you need it, here you can find some basics on composting at home by the EPA.
So, let’s get into the matter and check out the benefits of composting.
5 benefits of composting for your plants
Let’s take a look at how composting will change the game for your crops:
Increases the nutrient quality of soils
Composting promotes humus formation, which sticks soil together and keeps the nutrient materials right where they should be: where they’re munchies for your plants! Plus, the material you use to compost is organic, which means it produces nutrients from itself… Nutrients that otherwise would end up in the trash can… wasted. But that’s not all, it also makes it easier for the ground to hold on to those nutrients.
Have you ever seen how you water your plants and crops, and the water just passes through it or runs down from the top of your pot? That happens because the soil is unbalanced. Whether it’s too tight or too loose, it’s not agglutinated enough, and it won’t be able to retain either water or nutrients. The lack of absorption capacity will make the water run off laterally from the top of the soil. As a result, it will take nutrients away with it, eroding your soil without you noticing.
Composting material is filled with sticky humus that results from the decomposition of organic matter. This gluey texture helps keep the soil agglutinated and balanced – tightens it or loses it up, helping it retain the nutrients, so plants can benefit from them. The same happens when it comes to water; the proper balance and agglutination of the soil help retain the liquid, so it doesn’t erode the soil.
There’s no better cure for your plants than the one that comes from natural sources. I guess you already understand that compost generates natural nutrients and helps soil keep them in place. Additionally, compost helps keep alkalinity and acidity levels in the soil. Meaning it balances the pH. Most plants need a specific level of pH, which is hard to balance synthetically. Compost will do the job for you most of the time. This means that your plants will be nurtured naturally, reducing the possible side effects of using chemicals and naturally taking away pests.
Promotes the growth of beneficial microorganisms
The decomposition of organic material helps to encourage the growth of all kinds of microorganisms, from bacteria to fungi, to insects… These organisms break down the particles in organic waste, generating the valuable hummus we’ve been talking about. Not only do they provide the stickiness soil needs to retain water, but they also generate nutrients and help plants absorb them.
Makes plants more resistant to pests & limits weed growth
While you still need to be careful about the health of your plants, keeping a balanced soil will also keep their “immune system” strong. In the same way that we are less prone to get sick when our vitamin and mineral levels are balanced, plants get more resistant to most pests and diseases when their soil has good nutrition.
Additionally, the temperatures generated by decomposing materials usually discourage or deactivate certain weeds that otherwise could parasitise your plant. Weeds generally like to grow on imbalanced soil like low potassium soil. When you keep their ground healthy, your plants will grow healthily too!
As you can see, your plants will highly appreciate the benefits of composting. But if you think that’s all you get when you adopt this practice, let me tell you there’s more!
Let’s take a look at the health and economic benefits you’ll get from composting.
Benefits of composting to human health
Believe it or not, composting can directly impact your health if you plant edible greens. When you consume fruits and veggies that grow on composted soil, you’ll benefit from:
Fewer chemicals into your body
As you probably can imagine, plants absorb what there’s on their ground. Sadly, all kinds of heavy metals and chemicals can be found in the water, soil, pesticides, and fertilizers. All these toxic compounds will enter our system when we consume that plant. Composting reduces the need for pesticides and fertilizers almost to zero, leaving those chemicals out of your body. And further more… with compost, the metals and contaminants already in the ground will bind together instead of binding to the plant. Therefore, they won’t get the chance to get to your system through food.
Healthier vegetables and fruits
This is basic stuff, and I don’t think there’s much to explain. When you have soil richest in minerals and nutrients, that’s what your crops will consume too. And if you eat plants that grew on highly nutritious soil, those plants will deliver more nutrients to you. On the other hand, if the soil is eroded or has just enough nutrients for them to grow, your plants won’t have much to deliver to you when eaten.
Reduces methane and other contaminant emissions
Reducing gas emissions is crucial for both our health and the one of our planet. Composted soil reduces not only the number of emissions we would need to process organic waste in landfills… it also promotes the decrease of these gasses already existing in the atmosphere. Plants that grow on composted soils tend to develop faster and grow more. Meaning not only would you produce more and healthier food in less time. But you also reduce the emission of these gases from local landfills.
Cleaner and less polluted air is naturally healthier for everybody! So, indirectly, composting promotes healthier airspace and the health benefits your community can get from it.
Revitalized natural water sources
We know that consuming polluted water is one of the first causes of diseases nowadays. As we mentioned, compost promotes the absorption and filtration of waters into the deepest layers of the earth. During this drainage, which passes through different ground layers, the water seeps and settles to the bottom. There it feeds and becomes part of natural water sources such as springs. These are the same water sources that will, then, provide water directly to the community. This water, filtered through soil drainage, is cleaner and healthier for human consumption, significantly reducing the diseases that come from the vital liquid.
Economic benefits of composting
Whether it’s for you or your community, composting also brings economic benefits that, many times, go unseen.
Reduces expenses at home
If you’re planting edible vegetables, using compost to fuel their soil will promote faster growth as well as healthier plants. But not only that, but it will also reduce the amount of garbage you need to dispose of. The very fact that you are not buying those veggies that you’re planting means you’re spending less. But in addition you won’t spend on fertilizers and pesticides, so you’re doubling the savings!
Plus, you won’t have to purchase as many trash bags or spend on garbage services. And you will also save the time it would take you to manage the trash… You know they say time is money!
Finally, when you consume your own organic crop fed with compost, you could reduce your risk of many diseases. This, in the long term, could result in fewer medical expenses.
Increased job offer for your community
According to the ILSR, communities with compost practices generate twice as many jobs as any other disposing facility.
Making waste a valuable resource
The RTS statistics on food waste shows America alone throws out more than 40 million tons of food per year, which translates into $160 billion worth of food that’s just being wasted! Composting can change this number. And not only reduce it but also turn it into profit and valuable resources.
Stronger food system
Community composting tend to benefit from all the advantages we’ve reviewed during this article, resulting in a generally lower budget. This happens due to the improvement and promotion of farmers’ produce, the reduction of expenses in chemical products, and the improvement in the health quality of the food. When considered separately, these benefits already save a lot of money. But when part of a community food system, the impact on the budget becomes quite significant.
Is composting eco-friendly?
So, until now, many of the benefits we’ve mentioned for economics and health also directly impact our ecosystem. So, there’s no doubt about it; composting is eco-friendly as it represents the reduction and leverage from what otherwise would be garbage. Plus, it promotes the regeneration of soil which is urgent as we’ve lost almost 30% of the farmable ground in the US alone.
We also saw that it promotes sanitation of potable water and cleanses the air through absorption of CO2 and reduction of gas emissions. Those are already enough benefits to consider compost as an eco-friendly practice. But what if I tell you there’re even more benefits that compost may bring to our environment?
Composting, whether at home or as a local practice, involves many other positive consequences for the environment.
What impact does compost have on the environment?
Less polluted oceans
The impact of cleaner waters in a community that composts will, in time, grow to a larger scale as water from any source always ends up in the sea. When we cleanse our water sources from a local point of view, it results in more clean water delivered into the ocean. And, this also causes fewer pollutants and contaminants arrive into our precious water mass.
Regeneration of the atmosphere
One of the first causes of gas emission in the U.S. is the organic matter deposited in landfills. There, that material will simply rot, sending all those gases into the atmosphere. By adopting composting practices, we not only reduce the amount of organic matter in those landfills that won’t rot and emit gasses. We also generate the proper conditions for soil and plants to help us combat the damage in the ozone layer. According to U.S PIRG, if we had composted all the materials that went to landfills in 2015, it would have represented the same emission reductions as if we had taken 3 million cars off the roads that same year!
Composting reduces the use of plastic bags and saturated landfills.
Whether you notice it or not, half of the materials you throw away are compostable. When you throw that material away in a plastic trash bag, it adds up to a considerable amount of plastic that will be used to dispose of it. Then, more pollution is created in the landfills to process that waste and plastic. We could reduce all that plastic use, carbon emissions, and saturation of landfills by just composting the organic materials our community has at home instead of throwing them in landfill.
As you can see, composting is not only beneficial for you, but it’s also highly beneficial for our planet. If you’re looking for the best way to save money, increase your health, and be more sustainable, composting is a game-changer.
So, don’t hesitate and take action!
Composting is convenient and, in time, it actually becomes easy. Trust me, once you begin leveraging on the benefits of composting and know that you’re also helping the planet, you won’t want to change back to old habits.
If you’re interested in composting in the U.S, here you can find some practical resources according to your location.
Good luck, and a good harvest to you!
If you enjoyed this article you might like our pieces on how to grow peppers indoors and growing lavender from seed.
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