STILLWATER, Okla. – Landfills across the state are quickly filling up and some have closed because there is no more room. Yard and food waste take up a good chunk of available landfill space.
One way to help reduce the amount of material going into the landfill is to compost, said David Hillock, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension consumer horticulture specialist.
“If you drive through some neighborhoods you may see special containers for recycling plastics, paper and glass. Composting is a natural form of recycling and it’s easy to do,” Hillock said. “Composting organic materials puts these materials back into the ground instead of taking up space in a landfill.”
During the composting process, bacteria, fungi and other organisms decompose organic materials. Organic materials include leaves, grass clippings and vegetable and fruit scraps.
Composting has many environmental benefits. It reduces the amount of chemical fertilizers needed by adding plant nutrients to the soil. It improves soil drainage and helps hold soil particles together. Composting also reduces the amount of wastes dumped into landfills.
Hillock suggests building or purchasing a composting bin in which to throw all of your organic waste. Compost bins are relatively easy to build and can be constructed from materials such as chicken wire, wood boards or wood pallets. Metal garbage cans also make great composting bins.
“Consumers can add many common household wastes to their compost bins including grass clippings, fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds with filters, eggshells, tea bags and shredded newspapers. Despite all the items used for compost, some items including meat scraps, dairy products and animal and human waste should not be composted because they can attract rodents, transmit diseases and/or create odor problems,” he said.
Factors such as weather, the type of bin, items in the bin and whether you turn your bin will determine how long the process takes to make finished compost. Finished compost has about half of its original volume, is dark brown or black and smells earthy. Once the process is finished, you can apply it to your lawn or mix it with soil in your garden.
Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.
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