Humble composting worms are unknowingly fighting greenhouse gas emissions. When food rots in a landfill, it produces methane. Food put into a worm composter does not. In fact, aerobic composting results in organic fertilizer that helps green things grow. How big an impact would composting have on greenhouse gas emissions? What are the benefits of composting? And what can a household do to make their trash better for the environment?
Greenhouse gasses are heating up the planet and changing the climate. This leads to flooding, coastal erosion, stronger storms, and wildfires.
According to Tristram Stuart, author of “Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal,” food that no one eats represents 10 percent of the West’s greenhouse gasses. This waste includes throwing away food that is too much, too old, or imperfect.
What Can You Do?
To reduce food waste, look first at your food acquisition and preparation habits.
- Do you plan your meals? Prepare a menu each week. Shop for ingredients. Plan to use up leftover ingredients.
- Make the amount of food your household will eat to minimize leftovers.
- Be especially careful with fresh ingredients so they get eaten before they spoil.
- If you grow food, be prepared to make preserves. Share or sell excess food. Many food banks will take freshly picked fruits and vegetables.
Next, stop throwing out kitchen scraps and food. Organic material mixed into regular trash begins to break down. The trash smothers it, preventing it from getting enough oxygen. Therefore, anaerobic bacteria grow and smell terrible. In a landfill, anaerobic bacteria produce methane. Sometimes the methane is burned off, producing carbon dioxide and water. However, sometimes the methane is released into the air, contributing to the greenhouse effect.
Incineration is not much better. The waste heat might be used for energy, or might be released. The smoke could pollute the air if it’s not filtered properly. Filter dust and ashes are toxic because they came from mixed trash. These left-overs are treated as hazardous waste.
Much of the organic matter we discard could be composted. Composting prevents that material from converting to methane. The result is a pure organic fertilizer that helps new plants grow.
How to Compost
Whether you live on a large tract of land or in an efficiency apartment, you can compost. Composting worms speed up the process. Thus, the bin environment is less hospitable to anaerobic bacteria. Worms eat away tunnels that aerate their bedding. More air means more of the friendly aerobic bacteria.
Start by choosing a location for your worm bin. Build a composter, or order an easy-care tray-based composting bin from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. Add bedding, such as coconut coir, pure peat moss, fall leaves, or shredded black-ink newspaper. Moisten until the bedding feels like a wrung-out sponge when you squeeze it.
Next, visit Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm’s online store and order composting worms. Red Worms are best for composting. European Night Crawlers (Super Reds) are great for large outdoor bins and aerating the garden or lawn. Place your worms on top of the bedding and let them dig down.
Feed the worms every few days. You will find complete feeding instructions on Uncle Jim’s website. After a few months, you can start harvesting the finished compost and applying it to your growing plants.
Composting turns household trash into treasure. Instead of squandering natural resources, use worms to create fertilizer. You can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions — and make your household trash smell sweeter.