compost bin
Agriculture and Sustainability,  Lifestyle,  Waste

How composting literally saves the world and combats climate change

“There is no such thing as ‘away’. When we throw anything away it must go somewhere.” – Annie Leonard.

True. And when we throw organic waste away it goes to landfill and contributes to global warming. Wait what?

The science

In the natural world, organic waste (plants, fruits, and vegetables; anything from the earth) breaks down using air. This process is called aerobic decomposition. When organic waste is sent to landfill there is no oxygen for it to break down, with it being covered by a whole heap of garbage and all. This process is called anaerobic decomposition and produces methane (CH4).

Methane is one of four main greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming along with carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O) and fluorinated gases.

Global Warming

Take a look at the image below. When solar radiation hits the earth, some of it is reflected by water and ice and sent back to space. Greenhouse gases trap the solar radiation that is trying to go back to space and send it back to earth. This is fine, and it has ensured the Earth has stayed a nice temperature for a pretty darn long time. 

However, in the last 100 years humans have made some massive changes (good thing) which have resulted in more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere than ever before (bad thing). This means that more solar radiation is trapped in the atmosphere, heating us up and causing natural disasters, killing coral on the Great Barrier Reef, melting glaciers and rising sea levels.

Greenhouse-effect diagramSource: National Park Service

The extent of which each greenhouse gas traps solar radiation is called its Global Warming Potential. Methane has a Global Warming Potential 20 times that of carbon dioxide! This means that throwing organic waste in the bin is super bad, eep! Luckily you don’t have to thanks to the magic power of composting!

Composting

Composting stops your organic waste from contributing to global warming and makes beautiful, nutrient rich soil in the process.

Anyone can compost no matter your living situation. You can go for a standard compost bin if you have a house or a bokashi bin or vermiculture (worm farm) if you are in an apartment.

If you don’t have a use for the soil once it’s done, simply find someone who does! Or even better yet, start your own vege garden! There are so many ways you can grow your own food with little space now. Basically, you’d be saving the world and growing your own food at the same time! Nice.

But what about when you travel? Share Waste allows people to register their compost bins so you can get rid of your organic waste no matter where you are! You can register your compost bin there too. Be sure to check out your local council’s waste management system as they might compost organic waste for you (shout out to my homies in Freo, WA and Tweed Heads, NSW)!

If you’re in Australia you can get a discounted worm farm, compost or bokashi bin from your local council from Compost Revolution!

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