Mushrooms, worms and bacteria: what do these three organisms have in common? They are decomposers, breaking down and returning organic material to the Earth. That rotten smell in the refrigerator from the incredibly questionable Chinese takeout is actually a byproduct of the decomposition process. To capture the nutritional benefit of decomposition, backyard composting facilitates an environment to reuse organic waste as fertilizer for garden and landscaping purposes
In Mecklenburg County, waste management facilities pick up yard waste weekly, including grass clippings, leaves and weeds. However, for food waste, alternative measures must be taken to reuse and compost excess organic material. Fortunately, there are some North Carolina-based organizations that can help make the daunting task of starting your own compost a little easier.
Composting on a large scale
Based out of Dallas, North Carolina, Earth Farm Organics collects much of Charlotte businesses’ organic waste in its composting facility. Businesses, such as hotels and restaurants, can divert their excess food waste to the site in designated trashcans and dumpsters at their businesses. Interested customers can also purchase the compost and top soil for their gardens and lawns, reducing the dependence on chemical herbicides and fertilizers.
Composting on a community scale
For individuals, single- and multi-family homes and apartment complexes, simple infrastructure can allow backyard composting. While the process of composting is not difficult, changing behavior to ensure that organic waste is being disposed of properly can be challenging. However, as composting becomes more routine, the process will seem more innate.
The tools for the job
Bare Green Inc.
7427 Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Mint Hill, NC 28227
Composting and hardware stores offer compost materials and infrastructure, ranging from $50 to $300. Dependent on the food waste amount, multiple compost bins might be needed. Be sure to check out the very aesthetically pleasing yard and kitchen bins to keep your composting discrete. Beginner composters can register for Mecklenburg County’s Organic Waste Reduction course to learn more about composting in Charlotte and the benefits in diverting waste from landfills.
Some effort must be exerted to maintain a successful compost system. As newly added waste occurs daily, the compost needs to be overturned with a pitchfork weekly to mix waste and maintain aerobic decomposition. Quality compost often takes months to convert to humus, the stable organic matter used and distributed as natural fertilizer.
Researching and implementing composting mechanisms in the Charlotte area will decrease landfill waste by transforming food waste into beneficial compost.
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Isabel Sepkowitz is a freelance writer. She is an environmentalist who values sustainability, education, and innovation for the emerging green economy. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.