This year we partnered with Compost Colorado, who have been incredible partners in cleaning up our waterways and educating us about all things composting. And while we’ve been spending our time removing trash from rivers and streams, we also see the importance of reducing the amount of trash that ends up in landfills. I was personally amazed at the impact composting alone has on the environment. Here are some environmental benefits of composting that stood out to us.
#1 Composting = less trash = less landfills = protected natural habitats
Landfills are designed to store waste, not decompose it. So, the more we throw in the trash, the more landfills we need to create. Making a new landfill requires an average of 600 acres of land, and building them usually involves destroying a natural habitat that has no chance of recovery. Scientists estimate that over a million acres of natural habitat have been lost with over 3,000 active landfills in the United States alone.
Yard waste and food scraps alone make up 30 percent of what the average person throws away, and guess what? You can compost them! Doing so would dramatically reduce the amount of waste in landfills, and the need to build more.
#2 It’s what you DO with compostable products that makes a difference
Compostable products are growing in popularity, but they don’t make a difference unless you compost them. Many companies have led us to believe that if you throw a compostable product in the trash, it will decompose, but that’s not the case.
Compostable products need oxygen to break down and decompose. Landfills are air-sealed and deprived of all oxygen, so compostable products can’t break down. Surprising, yes, but true.
#3 Composting has a positive impact on rivers
I bet you knew this one was coming. Composting does have a positive impact on water quality by preventing water pollutants from entering runoff or seeping into groundwater. Compost enriches soil quality and retains more water than traditional soil, which helps keep and then stabilize pollutants like heavy metals, oil, fuels, and pesticides. Stabilizing these materials takes the nutrients, such as nitrogen, and ties them up in the compost’s organic matter. The nutrients are slowly released over time, increasing the opportunity for uptake by plants and reducing downstream water pollution.
There are so many other benefits to composting and Compost Colorado is a great resource for all of the info you need. Plus if you don’t have the space in your back yard to compost, they offer a service that allows you to put compostable items in a bucket, and they pick it up and replace it with a new one every week!