Why should we Kitchen Compost?

by brian on June 15, 2012

This article was written by Jim Duer III from 21st Century Gardener. Enjoy!

Scraps from your kitchen are one of the best and most readily available sources of organic material for home composting. It is estimated that about one half of all food that is produced or consumed in the United States is discarded.  The main reasons are spoilage and overproduction.   A typical household throws away an estimated 474 lbs. of food waste each year. A household could be producing at least a ton of organic material every year if yard waste were included.

Kitchen scraps get wasted one of two ways in most homes. They either go to the landfill or the sewer treatment plant.  Scraps processed through the garbage disposal end up at the sewage treatment plant.  The waste is now a liability to the treatment plant. The organic kitchen material in our sewer systems requires increased electricity, water, and chemical use by the sewage plant.  Organic matter that ends in the landfill is also costly. Conditions in landfills are not conducive to decomposition, so organic waste breaks down in a way that produces methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times as potent as CO2.  The material also takes longer to biodegrade due to lack of light and oxygen.  Both paths lead to the same end, taking up space in our landfills.

Kitchen composting makes way for waste to get the proper amounts of moisture and oxygen so it can degrade properly.  The byproduct of kitchen composting is a natural organic soil rich in nutrients.  This rich soil can be used in gardens, lawns, or in your home for potted plants.  The soil produced also has excellent moisture retention.   Composting can help minimize disease in plants, control pests, and contribute to healthier yields of crops. The biggest, most underrated fact about kitchen composting is that it can actually reduce the pollutants in the atmosphere such as VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), heavy metals, and pesticides.

Here are products that are biodegradable and suitable for composting.

  • Vegetable and fruit waste, rinds, cores, skins, etc.
  • Old bread, donuts, cookies, crackers, pizza, noodles, and anything made of flour.
  • Grains such as rice, barely, wheat, etc. (cooked or uncooked)
  • Coffee grounds, coffee filters, tea bags, paper towels, etc.
  • Old spices
  • Egg shells
  • Leaves, yard waste, lawn clippings. (sticks break down slowly)

Things you cannot compost:

  • Meat or meat waste, bones, skin, gristle, etc.
  • Fish or fish waste
  • Dairy products
  • Grease and cooking oils

There is a growing trend among the population today to live green.  This means we are conscious of reducing our impact on the planet. We make choices in our day-to-day lives to reduce, reuse, and recycle resources.  Green living is a healthy mindset that benefits both people and the environment. Composting at home contributes to living green, as does conserving water and energy. These practices can save us money while at the same time improving our health and overall quality of life.


About This Author

Jim Duer III,

I have been a home builder in West Michigan for 20 years.  I have a wife and four amazing children.  My schooling was at Michigan State University and Indiana Wesleyan. I am a homebuilder of 22 years and more recently a licensed pastor in the Wesleyan church.  My passion is leading young people to good stewardship, faith, and a quality life. Sustainable living involves designing a life that is interdependent on like-minded others, living eco-friendly, and intentionally reducing, renewing, and reusing natural resources.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

pure planet recycling May 21, 2013 at 2:04 pm

would the bread, donuts, pizza etc… not attract vermin? I have always stayed away from putting such food on the compost just in case it attracted rats etc…


Naomi Decker July 18, 2013 at 4:13 am

Supplies organic waste composting equipment and advice on establishing operations. Shredders for waste recycling.


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