Society is bombarded with images of bloggers, YouTubers, and influencers showing their superior lifestyles which include exclusively using refillable glass bottles, clothing made from recycled material, and fancy compost bins. The compost hashtags and reels have taken over our feeds leaving us to wonder; does compost help the environment or reduce carbon footprints?
Compost helps the environment by reducing waste, creating healthy soil, and lessening greenhouse gases. In turn, this may reduce one’s carbon footprint. Composting has many benefits to the environment.
Ultimately, the pros outweigh the cons of composting. Keep reading to learn about the effects composting has on the environment.
Does Composting Help the Environment?
Compost has a plethora of benefits such as:
- Reducing waste in landfills
- Improving soil quality
- Decreases the need to use fertilizers and pesticides
- Improves soil structure
Composting helps the environment because it reduces the waste in landfills and decreases the use of fertilizers and pesticides. When the trash is taken from each household a percentage gets compiled at trash centers or for short dumps and landfills.
Why are Landfills so Harmful?
Landfills are farther away and have become the last stop for most garbage. Trash may be recycled, incinerated, or composted before reaching the landfill. However, landfills are consistently refilled by all the trash that is not separated or siphoned out by that company or state.
Landfills are massive pits of trash that will be covered up and buried in man-made cells underground. This pollutes the land and becomes dangerous for wildlife. Additionally, there are 2,000 functioning landfills in America; landfills have closed due to running out of space or being overwhelmed with trash.
- Composting in your homes or schools decreases how much waste will ultimately end up in a landfill.
- Therefore, composting as a household and community can slow how quickly landfills are used and reduce the need for more.
- Fertilizers and pesticides are used to strengthen the soil and kill off insects that may harm crops.
Fertilizers often have chemicals that run off into the water and pollute water ecosystems. This chemical runoff can decrease oxygen in the water, encourage the overgrowth of algae and flood the river or stream with ammonia which can be deadly to sea creatures.
Compost strengthens the soil allowing for nutrients to naturally fertilize it without adding harsh chemicals. Compost reduces the need for intense human intervention in a natural growing process.
Here’s a quick video explaining how compost can help the environment, with a lot more info below:
Does Compost Help Climate Change?
Climate change has been on scientists and concerned citizen’s consciousness for decades. Composting done on a large scale can help stem climate change since composting reduces greenhouse gases.
One way that compost can help climate change is because it keeps food out of landfills where the organic matter does not decompose correctly and instead produces methane; methane is gas more toxic than carbon dioxide. Additionally, composting reduces the need for fertilizers that produce a nitrous oxide that contribute to smog.
- If more states or communities adopt composting programs, there can be an even larger effect on climate change from composting.
- States could see a reduction in the development of fertilizers, less energy used by companies to incinerate trash or push it into landfills, and increased air and water quality.
Composting has the potential to shift the narrative of climate control if implemented on a larger scale or adopted in more homes.
Does Compost Absorb Carbon?
Compost revitalizes the soil and enhances the soil structure. This allows the compost and soil to sequestrate the carbon or capture and store it. How is this possible?
When food or biodegradable items are used as compost allows more microbes to grow in the soil. Composting causes photosynthesis to occur underground and trap the carbon instead of releasing it into the atmosphere. This process reduces the overall negative carbon in the environment and keeps the carbon where it can is used effectively.
There are already small concentrations of carbon in soil naturally; composting reduces various greenhouse gases and carbon is at the top of its list.
Downsides of Composting
Composting has been used for centuries by farmers and has faced the same issues that plague those who want to make composting a way of life.
There are some downsides to composting:
- The time it takes for compost to decompose- However, the alternative is sending this food to landfills, where it will produce toxic methane gas.
- Needs monitoring to ensure it is done correctly and does not contribute to destroying the environment- Time and effort may be involved but like recycling with proper education and mainstream influence composting can be streamlined.
- Each household will need some land or dedicated space to effectively compost-Although this can seem simple factors such as space, smell, soil, and animals come into the equation and make it difficult for most to envision themselves composting as a part of normal life.
- Attracts rodents and insects- Rodents and insects are unwelcomed creatures in most households; this is a true downside because people will rely more heavily on rat poison or pesticides to get rid of their new visitors.
- Putrid smell- In apartments or complexes, these strong odors can be magnified if each household is compiling compost separately. However, composting as a community in a designated area can help people avoid smells being strong inside of one’s living space.
- Equipment needs to be purchased- Without the government or company intervention and guidance, average citizens will need to set up their compost station which requires knowledge and equipment.
While the benefits outweigh the cons for many, a few of these necessities for composting may not be readily available such as finding dedicated space in cities like New York that are densely populated. Similarly, most people may stray away from a process that harbors a smell or attracts animals to their homes.
Is Composting a Viable Solution to Climate Change?
There are a variety of things working against our environment and shortening our time with the planet. Greenhouse gases and emissions are slowly eating up the health of the soil, animals, and polluting water sources. Composting will help reduce greenhouse gases, chemicals put into the ground and therefore found in the oceans and lakes.
It is a teachable way for everyone to contribute by doing something small like placing their leftover fruits and vegetables into a designated space instead of tossing it in with the general garbage. While composting alone cannot save the Earth, it is an option to consider when planning out ways each citizen can chip in to play their role in healing the planet.