Now that we have eaten our fruits and veggies, what do we do with the bits we do not want?
Just throw them in the trash can?
While that may be the seemingly logical approach, there is definitely a much better way of disposing of organic materials like fruit and veggie scraps.
Yes… I’m talking about composting!
And what better time to talk about it than on the official Learn About Composting Day?
(And stay tuned… I think you might be surprised to learn what else you can safely compost apart from fruits and veggies.)
What Is Learn About Composting Day?
Celebrated annually on May 29th, Learn About Composting Day is exactly what you would imagine – a day devoted to raising awareness about the benefits of composting!
In case you are not 100% sure, compost is any organic matter that decomposes on its own that can be used as a natural fertilizer.
Composting is not only easy, it is an excellent environmentally sound way to reduce yard waste.
Leftover pieces of fruits and vegetables are popular compost materials, but there are plenty of other compostable items out there that we will talk about in just a minute.
What Is So Great About Composting?
Here are some important reasons why we should all compost:
- It Helps Reduce Waste in Landfills. Instead of allowing waste to slowly decay in landfills, which releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, composting allows waste to decompose naturally.
- It Requires Little Effort. All you really have to do is throw your organic waste into a composting pile near a garden or other vegetation, and then let nature do its work.
- It Can Clean Previously Contaminated Soil. Composting can change environmental contaminants (organic chemicals) and bind to heavy metals, which makes them less available .
- It Lessens the Need for Harmful Chemicals. Typical fertilizers often contain harmful chemicals, but compost is completely natural and chemical-free.
In sum, composting is good for the planet and good for people.
So What Can You Compost?
One of the most frequent questions people ask is what is actually compostable?
To help you out, here is a list of the most common items that are totally okay to compost:
- Vegetable and fruit scraps
- Coffee grounds and filter
- Tea bags
- Leaves, brush, moss, hay and straw
- Plant cuttings and grass clippings
- Cut flowers
- Used potting soil
- Wood chips
- Egg and nut shells
- Dryer lint
- Newspaper, food-soiled paper – i.e. napkins and paper towels
But be sure NOT to compost things like meat and fish scraps (not present in a 100% plant-based diet), dairy products, oils and fats, lime, colored paper, kitty litter and pet feces, grease, and non-organic material.
So, next time you are faced with a composting ‘should I, should I not’ dilemma, this list will likely help.
How Can You Compost?
So, this is a question that has befuddled me for years.
As a plant-based eater, I produce a LOT of veggie and fruit scraps. And truth be told, those scraps have always been a source of guilt for me. I wanted to compost, but it has seemed like a lot of work.
Where does one compost? Not all of us are blessed with compost bins in our hometowns that will be picked up at the same time as your trash. So how do we go about the task of actually getting rid of our veggie scraps?
As it turns out you have two solutions:
- Compost Yourself
If you are an avid gardener and have space in your backyard, this may be a great option for you. All you really need is an open pile or bin, some compost starter, and some fruit and veggie scraps. Check out this helpful infographic to master the process.
2. Find An Organization to Help You
Some of us are not the best gardeners (myself included) and may not be as interested in creating our own compost. Therefore, a better solution may be to check and see if any organizations in your community are taking the “compost” initiative.
For example, in Davis, California, an Organics program is about to start as early as July 2016. This summer, you will be able to access organic carts for easy organics waste disposal. Please note that organics does not only mean fruit and veggie waste. To find out more, check out their website here.
And UC Davis has also been taking some very cool measures to ensure that our scraps do not go to waste. There is a “Project Compost” on campus where compost will be collected from specific points on campus. One more reason why UC Davis was the #1 Cool Campus in the US last year. To check out more, visit their site.
In nearby Sacramento (California’s capital and where our Medical School is located), there is a nonprofit called GRAS (Green Restaurants Alliance of Sacramento) which has started a program called ReSoil which they describe as a ‘composting endeavor to close the loop from farm to fork and back to the farm’. ReSoil collects green waste from 25 participating local restaurants and food producers (including at the local farmer’s markets) and delivers it by bike to compost bins at community gardens and backyard farms throughout the city.
A New Recipe in Honor of Composting
In honor of Learn About Composting Day, I decided to share my beloved recipe for Apple and Endive Salad With Orange Dressing.
And when you are finished, you will now know what to do with the scraps!
Composting does not have to be difficult – make an effort each day to compost at least one thing, and over time, it will become second nature.
Happy composting everyone!