With the Thanksgiving holiday behind us and the holiday season in full swing, many of us are going to be faced again with the question—what to do with all those leftovers? 

Did you know the average American household generates roughly 650 pounds of compostable materials each year? Yet 72% of America is not composting food waste. Before you start throwing food away, consider composting if you don’t already.

Why compost?

When food waste is mixed with other types of household trash and sent to the landfill it takes up unnecessary space. Composting organic waste can reduce the need for landfill space of up to 40%.

Once in a landfill, food waste does not decompose under the dark, low-oxygen conditions. Instead, these wastes degrade and produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas. If all compostable waste in the US was diverted from landfills, it could reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions in equivalence to taking over 2 million cars off the road.

Composting also cuts down on the fuel needed to transport, and process, this waste for landfill and incinerator operations.

What to do with compost?

Compost adds to the soil’s nutrients in your indoor plants or outdoor garden supplies without the use of harmful chemical fertilizers.

Compost also improves soil’s ability to retain water, thereby reducing the need and cost of watering.

So, what CAN be composted?

  • Bread
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Eggshells
  • Bread and grains
  • Rice and pasta
  • Old spices
  • Teabags
  • Coffee grounds
  • Coffee filters
  • Paper (including paper towels, bags, napkins, pizza boxes, and other food)
  • Garden and yard waste ranging from flower arrangements and house plants to leaves and branches, and more.

How to start?

There are many online resources for composting beginners. Whether you will be doing indoor composting in an apartment or outdoor composting in your yard, composting is possible and important. The US EPA offers some good information for beginners at https://www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home.